With the streets (and buildings) of Chicago lined with fans, the Chicago Blackhawks paraded east on Washington, north on Michigan and came to a halt at Michigan & Wacker where a rally of an estimated 2 million people were waiting for them; a number that Chicago officials say is the largest celebration the city has ever hosted. But this celebration was not just for the first Stanley Cup Championship in 49 years. It was far more. It was the culmination of the resurgence that started three years ago. Friday was just as much a “welcome back” party as it was a championship celebration. It was the fans showing their appreciation to the entire organization for “committing to the Indian”* and making hockey relevant again in Chicago; something that just five short years ago seemed impossible.
Looking back at the 2005-2006 season, the Blackhawks were a lousy 26-43-13 with 65 total points. Good enough for fourth place in the Central division, ahead of only the perennial basement dwelling St. Louis Blues. The team was being run by Bill Wirtz, zero games were televised, and the average attendance was 5,000. That was all about to change.