Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stanley Cupcakes & The Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks cupcake by Magnolia Bakery.
Red sprinkles by Microsoft Paint.
My Michigan Avenue office building is across the street from Tribune Tower, the home of WGN Radio. Because of their close coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, the neighboring courtyard has been celebration central several times throughout the hockey season and postseason. Having followed the Hawks more closely this season than I have any professional sport ever, I can understand why. (Where were all these fans when I was watching the early games in an empty bar?) Long before the Hawks began playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, there was no shortage of things to celebrate about this year:
  • A record breaking streak to start the season. Going 24 consecutive games without a regulation loss, exactly half of the abbreviated season--they recorded a point during the entire month of February--the Hawks totally annihilated the previous record held by the 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks which lasted 16 games. (That Ducks team went on to win the Stanley Cup.)
  • Winning the President's Cup, which is awarded to the NHL team with the best record. Theirs was 36-7-5, totaling 77 game points out of a possible 96. Their game point percentage (.802) was the 6th best in NHL history. (With the exception of the 1929-1930 Boston Bruins, each of the top five went on to win the Stanley Cup.)
  • Winning Round 2 of the Playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings. After being down 3-1 in the series, the team fought off elimination by winning three straight games. Sitting in the crowd with my brother, we watched as the Hawks won Game 7 twice, once in the third period--when referee Stephen Walkom denied Hjalmarsson's goal, I thought fans were going to break down the glass and charge the ice--and again in overtime off a goal by Brent Seabrook! Also, this round was historic because the NHL realignment means this meeting marked the last time these two rival teams could ever meet in the playoffs, other than the finals.
  • Winning the Western Conference, thanks to Hatrick, excuse me, Patrick Kane's amazing Game 5 performance.
Plus numerous individual achievements:
  • Corey Crawford and Ray Emery collectively won the William M. Jennings Award (goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against).
  • Jonathan Toews won the Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) and was a top three finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.
  • Joel Quenneville was a top three finalist for the Jack Adams Award (top head coach).
  • Brandon Saad was a top three finalist for the Calder Trophy (top rookie).
  • Patrick Kane was a top three finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (best sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability).
  • Marian Hossa was awarded a silver hockey stick to commemorate his 1,000th game this season.
  • Bryan Bickell exists.
So, yes, we've been and cheering (and singing) a lot.

During one of the celebrations in Pioneer Plaza outside WGN Radio, the Ice Crew handed out prizes to anyone who could shoot one-to-three tee balls past an inflatable Corey Crawford and into the net. Defying all odds I shot one in, though I'd never used a hockey stick in my life. (My prize was a red plastic cup with the team logo on it, valued at approximately ten cents. But I was so thrilled, they could have given me red, white and black pocket lint and I wouldn't have complained.)

Another, much more relevant time--Dessert blog! Focus! Focus!--Crumbs Bakery gave out free Stanley Cupcakes with the team colors to celebrate the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Realizing that "Stanley Cupcake" is too cute a phrase to let pass, the NHL sent out cupcakes with each competing team's logo in frosting to members of the media. One recipient used the bedazzled treats as inspiration in making his Playoff picks, predicting that the Blackhawks would be defeated by the Penguins in the Finals. As if a team wearing black and yellow could ever beat the Hawks. Ha!

With the real Finals having started--last night's triple overtime win against the Boston Bruins, the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history--the hype has picked up even more. Local Dunkin' Donuts chains have rebranded Boston Kreme as "Chicago Kreme." Another less detail-oriented bakery is offering their own Blackhawks cupcakes. (pictured above) Maybe, just maybe, it's time for me to revisit my recipe for Chicago Blackhawks ice cream--strawberry cookies and cream with marshmallows.

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