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8 feel-good stories from the Hawks' Stanley Cup run

8 feel-good stories from the Hawks' Stanley Cup run
Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette celebrates winning the Stanley Cup with his family after Game 6 of the final series against Tampa Bay. (Getty Images)

There are always feel good stories for a championship team.

Winning a championship is an endless, enervating battle. Players overcome injuries, illnesses, off-ice issues, underperforming, etc. This year's Hawks team was chock-full of guys to root for and to celebrate in raising the Stanley Cup. Yes, guys such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith feel terrific as well, but RedEye wanted to give other Hawks props. 

8. Marcus Kruger (center, 2nd Stanley Cup)

Marcus KrugerMarcus Kruger (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Kruger anchored a relentless puck-possessing fourth line that prided itself on outworking opponents this postseason. The center won big faceoffs and is a penalty-killing cyborg. Kruger has grown into one of the most dependable players on the Hawks. 

Your responsible play often flies under the radar, but two Cups probably are all the validation you need.

"Yeah, I'm pretty good with that. That's what we play for. All of us. To win. Obviously you want to be as big a part of it as you can. We all want to score goals and get a lot of attention, stuff like that. For me, I try to do everything I can to win. You want to score those big goals, do all those things, but you have to do everything else as well." 

7. Brad Richards (center, 2nd Stanley Cup) 

Brad RichardsBrad Richards (Associated Press)

Richards was brought over from the N.Y. Rangers last offseason to get Kane a center who could skate and get him the puck. Richards was quiet for chunks of the regular season but set up Kane for the second goal of the Hawks' 2-0 Stanley Cup-winning Game 6 over Tampa Bay. Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Lightning when they won the Cup in 2004.

Having you here to start the season, then adding Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen at the deadline, did the veterans' presence help win this Cup?

"Well I don't think it mattered who came along; they already had [veteran leadership] in here. But it just added more patience, more experience to the process. But this group wasn't lacking experience. It was just good to have more depth, guys that understand the ups and downs of playoff hockey. It was perfect." 

6. Scott Darling (goaltender, 1st Stanley Cup)

Scott DarlingScott Darling (Associated Press)

The native of Lemont, Ill., and lifelong Blackhawks fan straight up wowed the coaching staff out of training camp. He wound up being a dangerous part of the Hawks' goalie tandem, which was in effect a couple times this season. When Corey Crawford had trouble finding his mojo in the first round against Nashville, it was Darling who made the difference in a close, taxing series. 

5. Niklas Hjalmarsson (defenseman, 3rd Stanley Cup): 

Niklas HjalmarssonNiklas Hjalmarsson (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Hjalmarsson is a fearless, shot-blocking machine. Aside from getting nailed by countless slap shots on every inch of his body this season, he logged heavy minutes in which he was incredibly dependable throughout the playoffs.

Winning a Cup has to feel extra good for a player like you who sacrifices his body so much.

"Absolutely. It's a great feeling. We've really done something special here with three Cups in six years. It doesn't happen barely at all. To be a part of that group, that's really special."

4. Teuvo Teravainen (forward, 1st Stanley Cup)

Teuvo TeravainenTeuvo Teravainen (Associated Press)

All bets were off and all questions were answered after his rookie season. Will he live up to the hype? After splitting time between the Hawks and Rockford IceHogs lineup during the regular season, Teravainen got his chance in the playoffs and the deeper the team went, the better he he seemed to play. There's something special about seeing a 20-year-old who had the weight of the world on his shoulders throw it off so he could lift the Stanley Cup.

3. Corey Crawford (goaltender, 2 Stanley Cups)

Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford (Associated Press)

For some reason, there were still some members of the Hawks' fan base that weren't satisfied with Crawford as the team's last line of defense. After his best start to a season, he suffered his notorious concert injury but was able to return to his former self. For whatever reason he didn't have it in Round 1, but Crawford battled back in Rounds 2 and 3 and again played lights-out in the Stanley Cup Final. 

How good do you feel about what you've been able to accomplish?

"I'm just happy about winning. That's the only thing that matters. Everyone works hard in that room together. To win another one together is great, man. Childhood dream. You never really think when you're a kid you have a chance, then now being able to win it twice is awesome." 

2. Antoine Vermette (center, 1st Stanley Cup) 

Getty ImagesAntoine Vermette (Getty Images)

The former Arizona Coyote was the ultimate difference maker in the Stanley Cup Final with two game-winning goals and countless big faceoff wins after being benched during the Western Conference finals. Besides having a reputation for being one of the nicest guys on the 2015 team, you just can't beat seeing someone raise the Cup for the first time.

Being as effective as you were in the Final, does that make this all even more special?

"As long as you win, that's the thing. It's really nice to add a little bit. The main thing is putting your name on that big trophy. It's amazing." 

1. Kimmo Timonen (defenseman, 1st Stanley Cup)

Kimmo TimonenKimmo Timonen (Getty Images)

There was a reason Jonathan Toews chose the 40-year-old Timonen to be the second Hawk to touch the Cup this time around. The 16-year NHL veteran had never won one. He came close a few years ago, but a certain No. 88 put a puck past his goaltender on his watch in Game 6 in Philadelphia. 

Timonen was an incredibly well-respected veteran presence in the Hawks' dressing room after landing with the Hawks later in the season. Before making the trip to the Windy City he battled blood clot issues and didn't know if he'd touch the ice ever again earlier in the year. The relief, the passion and the joy he had when he hoisted the Cup was tattooed into Chicago sports fans' minds for all eternity. 

Scott King is a RedEye special contributor. @ScottKingMedia

For more Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship coverage, click here

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