Stanley Cup Visits Shops Damaged in Victory Celebration
LINCOLN PARK — While the Blackhawks were on the United Center ice Tuesday night, Lord Stanley's cup was on a tour of Clark Street to make amends.
The Cup wound its way through seven of the 31 businesses along Clark Street that were damaged by raucous crowds celebrating the Hawks Stanley Cup victory in late June.
It was a sign of sportsmanship by the Hawks. As one resident put it, a "sportsmanship tour."
"The idea was to come back to Clark Street and say 'thank you' to the fans and businesses who have supported the Blackhawks all along," said William Delaney, a Lincoln Park resident who helped put the event together.
About 50 windows were smashed overnight in the hours after the Hawks victory.
Tuesday's pseudo-parade gave business owners a chance for a photo op with the Cup in their shops, bars and restaurants while hundreds of Hawks fans descended on the area.
The luster of the Blackhawks' championship season has yet to wear off, even as the team was playing its first preseason game of the new season.
One 26-year-old fan, Bobby Belanski, heard about the tour at the last minute and skated more than a mile from his restaurant job to simply touch the historic trophy.
After a summer of missing out, it was his last chance.
"Words can't describe this. Since I was a little kid, I've always dreamed about touching this thing," Belanski said. "It's a surreal feeling."
The tour of Clark Street started at the neighborhood's new coffee shop, Fuel Station, about 7 p.m. and made stops in a tobacco shop, LP Stadium, Tzatziki Grill, Galway Arms, Cycle Smithy and Basil Leaf Cafe.
Babies found there way into the Cup, drivers on Clark Street got unexpected chances to snap a shot of it, and hundreds of fans likely ended up with new Facebook profile pictures Tuesday night.
While posing outside Cycle Smithy's large front windows with the Cup, the bike store's owner joked that people should break his windows more often.
"Obviously there were some businesses that were impacted by the overexuberant crowds that nobody expected," Delaney said. "Some negative things happened."
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey both posed for a shot with the Cup.
Smith, who expressed outrage after the windows were shattered, called Tuesday's event "great sportsmanship" by the Hawks.
"I really applaud the Hawks for being such great neighbors and sharing the Cup with the neighborhood," she said.
The last-minute neighborhood tour also allowed Smith to get her first touch of the trophy.
"It's a pretty awesome thing," she said. "A real symbol of victory."
The idea for the Clark Street tour had been in the works for months, but word didn't slip out until just hours before the black SUV carrying the trophy arrived.
Delaney, who sits on the board of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said he began discussing the idea with Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz when Wirtz spoke to the chamber about a week after the Hawks' Cup victory.
"I said to him, 'We should do something in Lincoln Park because there are a lot of businesses that were impacted,'" Delaney said. "He immediately recognized that and said, 'Yes, absolutely. Let's do it.'"
For fans who weren't able to see the Cup Tuesday night, it will be on display in Millennium Park for a public viewing on the Pritzker Pavilion stage from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
On Thursday, the trophy is headed to Montreal to have the Blackhawks' roster engraved on it, according to Howie Borrow, one of five Keepers of the Cup.
"It's just been great. Everybody is Cup-crazy here in Chicago everywhere we go," Borrow said.