BOSTON -- The sport of hockey loves to honor those that serve their time in the league and dedicate their lives in pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Michal Handzus and Jamal Mayers are two of those players, and Monday night, they both finally got the opportunity to raise the Cup.
For Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who received the Cup first from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, a meeting of the team's leaders came to the conclusion to put Handzus and Mayers next in line for the honors.
"It was a quick discussion I had with Sharpie and Duncs this morning," said Toews. "I wanted to know what they thought, if I should give it to one of the older guys and they were fine with it. I don't think it matters who grabbed it first. As long as we win the thing and we get to take it home to Chicago."
Blackhawks best team in the world?
"That sounds pretty cool," said head coach Joel Quenneville after the team's second Cup since 2010.
The Blackhawks' are now the first team in the salary cap era to win the Cup twice, which is a great testament to the job by general manager Stan Bowman. The GM had to deal with a hairy cap situation after their last win in 2010, but he kept the core intact and four years later, Chicago went wire to wire, ending the regular season with a Presidents' Trophy and the playoffs with the Cup.
"I thought we had one of those seasons this year where it was a special year, and what we accomplished at the start of the year nobody envisioned or nobody could have predicted or foresaw that happening or being the case," he said.
How hurt was Seguin?
Only Patrice Bergeron (71) had more shots than Tyler Seguin (70) for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins forward scored his only goal of the postseason in their 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the second round. His struggled prompted head coach Claude Julien to put him with Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille on the third line, which saw him end the season with assists in the final four games of the series.
Seguin said he would be getting looked at by doctors on Tuesday, and while he didn't contribute much in the goal column, he ends the 2013 season with no regrets.
"I played I don’t know many games — even though I don’t regret going to Europe, I definitely felt zeros pouring on in the end in the playoffs," he said. "I gave it everything I had in the tank tonight. I have no regrets looking back.
"Obviously I would have liked to pop a few goals for my teammates, but I’ve just got to move on and learn from it, and realize I’m still young, and have a great offseason to get ready for next year."
Kane on the core
The 2010 offseason saw a Cup-winning team come close to completely being dismantled. Fortunately, Bowman was able to retain his core players and build around them for another deep playoff run. It took a couple of early exits, but the moves in free agency and in the Draft paid off four years later.
"It's unbelievable to be in this situation," Kane said. "There's role players on the 2010 team that meant a lot to us that couldn't stay for us for the next year. I think nine or ten or 11 guys got moved, and the Blackhawks did a great job of drafting and filling in those holes. You look at guys they drafted: Saad, Shaw, a big trade for Leddy who's going to be a big player in the future.
"And then just little signings like Rozsival, picking up Stålberg who's got great speed. We can go up and down the line and name off guys and how they contributed to this team and this game. It's just a great group, and it's going to be fun to celebrate with them."
Bryan Bickell is about to get paid
Bryan Bickell scored the game-tying goal in Game 6 with 1:16 left in regulation. It was his biggest goal as a Blackhawk and could be his last. The 27-year old is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and his play in the postseason -- 9 goals, 17 points -- will certainly attract plenty of suitors looking to give him a nice raise from the $600,000 he made this season.
Bickell wasn't ready to talk about what his future might hold after Game 6.
"I think the postseason was my type of game," he said. "To be a part of this, the way we did it, the season the way we had. That was the only way to finish it off the way we did."
As Bowman needed (and was forced) to do in 2010, tough decisions will have to be made to built next season's Blackhawks team. Did Bickell just play his final game for Chicago?
Bruins play inspired Boston after marathon bombings
The world embraced Boston Strong after the tragic events during the Boston Marathon in April. The Bruins' run helped in the healing and the players had something else to play for as the playoffs approached.
"You know, at the end of the day, I think that's what hurts the most is in the back of our minds, although we needed to focus on our team and doing what was going to be the best thing for our team to win a Stanley Cup, in the back of our minds we wanted to do it for those kind of reasons, the City of Boston, what Newtown has been through, that kind of stuff," Julien said.
Before playoff games, the Bruins honored victims of the bombings and first responders as the team's banner captains. The Cup loss may sting, but the effects of the Bruins' season has already helped the healing process.
"It hit close to home, and the best way we felt we could try and cheer the area was to win a Stanley Cup. I think that's what's hard right now for the players.
"We had more reasons than just ourselves to win a Cup."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy