CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Windy City will celebrate its first Stanley Cup triumph in half a century when they honor the Chicago Blackhawks with a downtown parade Friday.
A crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands is expected for a street party through the Chicago Loop and up Michigan Avenue to a rally by the Chicago River.
The NHL title was the fourth overall for the Blackhawks, one of the league’s six original franchises, but their first since 1961 and the days of “The Golden Jet” Bobby Hull and fellow Hall of Famer Stan Mikita.
“I think the party in Chicago is going to be all-world,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory that completed the team’s 4-2 triumph in the best-of-seven series.
After soaking in the moment with family and friends following the game at Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center, the team plane touched down in Chicago at O‘Hare about 4 a.m., met with a water cannon salute by airport firetrucks.
More good times could lie ahead for Chicago as the Hawks have one of the youngest teams in the National Hockey League.
Captain Jonathan Toews, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs, is 22 and Cup-clinching goal scorer Patrick Kane is 21.
Toews capped a golden season by adding the Stanley Cup triumph to the Olympic gold he won with Canada. Kane played for the U.S. silver medal team in Vancouver.
Chicago is also young in the front office.
The Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman, 36, is the youngest general manager on record to win the Stanley Cup.
Chicago’s triumph capped a season in which the club registered franchise records of 52 wins and 112 points (52-22-8).
The Blackhawks are the only NHL team to improve their record in each of the past five seasons -- 59 points in 2004, 65 in 2006, 71 in 2007, 88 in 2008, 104 in 2009 and 112 in 2010.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by John Mehaffey