Stanley Cup expected to visit Winnipeg once again with Jonathan Toews
Chicago Blackhawks defeated Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup series 4-2
The Winnipeg connection to one of the most sought-after trophies in professional sports has been reinforced.
With the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the names of three Winnipeg-born players will be engraved on the chalice once again — Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp.
All three have been part of the 'Hawks current dynasty, which first won the cup in 2010, then again in 2013, before claiming their third on Monday.
And they won the latest on home ice, defeating the Lightning 2-0 in Game 6 to take the series 4-2.
It's expected the cup will make a return appearance in Winnipeg and be toured around by Toews, the Blackhawks' captain whose family still calls the city home.
Keith, who scored the Cup-clinching goal this year and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, was born in the city but moved to Fort Frances, Ont., at age two, when his dad was transferred for work.
With Monday's win, Toews became the first NHL captain since Wayne Gretzky to lead his team to three Stanley Cup victories by the age of 27.
"We never set out to do that. I think we just take it one year at a time," Toews told reporters after the victory.
"And like I said on day one, there's that belief that we can work our way towards being a championship team and you know we never stopped climbing."
One of the perks of winning the Stanley Cup is the opportunity for every player to spend at least 24 hours with the trophy, taking it wherever they want.
Toews brought it home after his team's Cup-winning seasons in 2010 and 2013.
In 2013, he toured it around south Winnipeg, including a stop at the community centre and arena where he grew up playing hockey in the St. Vital neighbourhood (it was renamed in his honour after Chicago's 2010 championship).
Toews had a spark early on
"I think basically everybody who knew him, or watched him play, knew he had a uniqueness to him in a sense of his competitiveness and his tenacity out there," said Bob Saelens, who Coached Toews as a young kid.
"He had a will to play the game and he wanted to be successful at it."
Saelens coached Toews when he was seven and nine years old. Even then, Saelens said he knew Toews would go on to play in the NHL.
"I always [said], 'if this kid doesn't make the NHL, I don't know what it takes, because he was a level of his own," said Saelens. "[He] always brought his game to another level and he always showed that at many levels beyond the age of nine."
Saelens claims the 'Hawks captain has always been a leader. He recalled seeing a nine-year-old Toews instructing teammates on how to be better players during practices back then.
"He'd take them aside ... trying to show them or lead them in a different direction," said Saelens.
"To see him lift it (the cup) yesterday, it put chills down my spine."