Veterans finally get to hoist their Stanley Cup

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Veterans finally get to hoist their Stanley Cup

June 25, 2013, 1:15 am
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Hawks-Bruins Game 6

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BOSTON – Jonathan Toews, Stanley Cup in his hands, turned toward Michal Handzus. The veteran that the Chicago Blackhawks acquired at the trade deadline was the second to lift the Cup, and for the first time in his career.

Then it was Jamal Mayers, who didn’t play nearly as much as he would have liked but was a respected voice in the Blackhawks’ locker room throughout this season. Then it was Michal Rozsival, who the Blackhawks acquired last summer to bolster the defense.

“You gotta give it to the old guys,” Toews said a few minutes after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 to claim their second Cup in four seasons. “Handzus, Rozsival, Mayers, they’ve played so many games. You want to win it for yourself but for those guys, especially. That’s the best feeling: what they’ve been through in their career and to win, it’s awesome.”

Rozsival turned out to be a nice signing for the Blackhawks. A veteran defenseman who split time with Sheldon Brookbank in the regular season, Rozsival was an every-game player in the playoffs. To hoist that Cup was tremendous for Rozsival, whose career started in Pittsburgh in the 1999-2000 season.

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“I guess the dinosaurs got it first, then the rest of the team,” Rozsival said with a big smile. “The guys who have had the Cup before just felt there are were few guys on this team at the end of their careers, and they might want to be in the front of this celebration. I mean, Toews is a great captain and he knows. Right away he called for ‘Zeus, then Jamal and then me. Right now, to be here and to be able to call yourself Stanley Cup champions, it’s an amazing feeling. You always dream about it. It’s amazing.”

Handzus, who was keen on joining the Blackhawks at the deadline, said there was just a chemistry, a camaraderie on this team that he wanted to be a part of.

“It shows what kind of team we have, a lot of character and great leadership,” he said. “I came here right away and thought, ‘Great leadership.’ Everybody cares for each other and we believed.”

Mayers would have loved to have been playing in this game, and so many others this season. Instead he was back in the locker room with the scratches, watching the final minute plus tick away in what was, at the time a 2-1 Bruins lead and a likely Game 7. When Bryan Bickell scored with 1:16 remaining, then Dave Bolland less than 17 seconds later, the mad dash was on.

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“We were all racing to get into our gear. My skates wouldn't go on, it took forever. I didn’t even put tape on my socks,” said Mayers, who had a bad dream entering Game 6. “I had a nightmare that the trainers forgot my jersey, so I made them check when we first landed and got to the rink.”

The Blackhawks’ Cup dreams were realized on Monday night. For those veterans who have waited their whole career to lift that Cup above their heads, that moment was even better than they imagined it would be.

“It’s everything you think it’s going to be when you grow up,” said Mayers. “To do it with a group of guys you care about so much, and in the twilight of my career, what a sweet way to go out.”


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