CHICAGO — Kelly Reif was in no hurry to leave United Center after Monday's Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Reif, wife of late Blackhawks assistant equipment manager Clint Reif, was with her four children — Florence, 11; CJ, 9; Aislynn, 3; and Colette, 22 months — and a cousin until 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, hanging out with the Blackhawks at the U.C.
"It was extremely difficult; it was overwhelming and emotional day," Kelly Reif told DNAinfo Tuesday afternoon.
Kelly Reif (l.) and her family celebrate with Patrick Kane after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Monday. [Photos Facebook/Kelly Reif]
She said many of the Stanley Cup champs — including Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp — told her they dedicated the championship to her husband, who died Dec. 21.
"He worked his a-- off for those guys, and they knew it," Kelly Reif said. "Anything they wanted, he would do it. But that’s not the reason they loved him. They loved him because of who he was as a person.
"He loved those guys like they were his brothers, and that's what family does for each other. He seriously loved those guys like they were his brothers."
Justin Breen says much of the team is dedicating the win to Clint:
Kelly Reif said after her husband died, she had predicted a Blackhawks-Lightning Stanley Cup Final. She said a Lightning equipment manager, Clay Roffer, is Clint Reif's best friend, and Roffer honored him with a "CR" patch on his jacket during the best-of-seven series.
Kelly Reif said she and Roffer had a "good cry" after Monday's game.
"I could have told you the day [Clint] died it would have worked out the way it did," Kelly Reif said. "Clint would have wanted his best friend" in the Final.
When the Blackhawks learned Clint Reif had died, they dedicated a 4-0 win over Toronto later that day to him. Both the Hawks and Washington Capitals honored Reif with "CR" decals on their helmets for the teams' Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
In February, organizers said more than $10,000 was raised for Reif's family at a event for the late Blackhawks assistant equipment manager at The Ogden on the Near West Side.
Kelly Reif and her family hang out with Hawks coach Joel Quenneville after Chicago won the Cup.
"I think Clint always knew hockey was family," Kelly Reif said. "He always understood the love that hockey gave. It wasn't always about the game, but the people involved. I know that he knew I'd be taken care of."
Kelly Reif, who three weeks ago started work as a real estate broker, said her two oldest children stayed awake throughout Monday night heading into early Tuesday morning, while her two youngest fell asleep.
After the Hawks' victory — which clinched the team's third title in six seasons and the first on home ice since 1938 — Reif said Florence and CJ gave each other a "rare, genuine hug."
"It was honestly because they were excited, but they also realized that [Clint] wasn't going to be here this time," she said. "They hugged it out."
Kelly Reif holds her 22-month-old daughter, Colette, and hangs out with Brent Seabrook in the Hawks' locker room.
Kelly Reif and Johnny Oduya with the Stanley Cup.
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