The lockout may have taken a chunk out of the 2012-13 regular season, but it didn't put a damper on the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win. That much was apparent on Tuesday night when the Blackhawks raised their championship banner to kick off the season against the Washington Capitals.
An electric setting in the United Center made for a fitting start to the season and a well-deserved tribute to a 2012-13 season that belonged to Chicago from the very beginning.
The scene kicked off with the raising of banners, fittingly, but it was first the Central Division and Western Conference championships, as well as the Presidents' Trophy that were recognized up in the rafters. Accompanying the tributes was an incredible video shown displayed on the ice, which the Blackhawks' Instagram captured:
Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times also caught a scintillating sight:
Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago gave us another exciting look:
Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks' chairman, initially thanked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and unintentionally provoking not-too-unfamiliar boos from the crowd before recognizing the entirety of their front office and various NHL execs one by one.
Not long after, each Blackhawks player was individually recognized for the epic feat, led by Duncan Keith who held the Cup high just like all of his teammates did on an eventful summer night in Boston a few months back.
And just like that night, Jonathan Toews and company were able to hoist the Stanley Cup for one last time before closing the book on the 2012-13 chapter and focusing on doing it again this season. ESPN's Dan Rosen captured how Toews was fittingly the last player to glide across the ice with the piece of history:
Toews comes on, last guy introduced. pic.twitter.com/t78InV5AZk— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 2, 2013
And last, but undoubtedly most anticipated, the Stanley Cup banner finally went up for good in one of sports' most historic venues. As Dan Rosen noted, the organization pulled an admirable move by getting kids in on the special moment:
8 youth hockey players skate onto the ice holding the banner. Hawks players come to meet them, together they unfurl the banner. Very cool.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 2, 2013
Then, without further anticipation, the banner finally was raised up to the rafters as NHL.com captured:
Lazerus shared a shot of the banner raising:
Despite the lockout-shortened season, the Blackhawks' 2012-13 campaign will go down in NHL lore.
Chicago ran a 24-game point streak to start the season (21-0-3), meaning they either won each game or lost in overtime or a shootout. The streak broke a slew of records and flirted with more.
But the excitement only began in the regular season for the 2013 Presidents' Trophy winners. After beating the Wild in five games, the Blackhawks played division foe the Detroit Red Wings and fell into a 3-1 series deficit. But they battled back and notched a Game 7 overtime winner in a sudden death moment to keep their season alive.
Will the Blackhawks repeat as Stanley Cup champions?
The Blackhawks got out to an all-important 3-2 series lead and skated into Game 6 in Boston with the chance to win it all, but trailed 2-1 with just over a minute left between the Blackhawks and a Game 7. Then, Chicago netted two goals before you could blink and all of the sudden, the Stanley Cup was no longer up for grabs.
Winning a Stanley Cup in a lockout-shortened season may provoke arguments from Blackhawks' opponents, but after dominating from start to finish, there's no argument against Chicago being the NHL's best last season.