CHICAGO | The true face of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks was best displayed by Andrew Shaw on Thursday.
The 21-year-old pesty, pugilistic center was fresh from two days of pub crawls with the Cup. A grand parade and Grant Park rally in front of fans in downtown Chicago awaits today. Those uplifting events will take the edge off Shaw’s swollen right cheek, a shiner around his right eye and a stitched-up facial cut after being hit with a puck in Game 6 Monday night.
“That’s the face of a champion,” he said of the other Hawks’ analysis of his horror-movie kisser.
What Shaw and the Hawks really overcame was out of sight. He had played the final two postseason rounds with a broken rib on his left side, joining teammates like Marian Hossa and Michael Handzus who went on the ice with pain as their constant companion. Thus he had the stark justification for the NHL-wide vague description of injuries as “upper body” and “lower body.”
“Pretty brutal,” Shaw said of the pain from the cracked bone. He gulped “lots of Advil” after games “when you really feel it ... it was tough to sleep.” Meanwhile, White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy will miss six weeks due to a broken rib.
“But you get into a game,” Shaw said, “you kind of try to forget about it and mostly play your game, keep playing physical. There’s a lot of guys in that locker room that were hurt. They were pushing themselves. So I thought I had to push myself even more. It was successful. I can guarantee every guy would say it’s worth it.”
A summer to heal the hurts with each player spending his own personal day with the Stanley Cup will follow today’s massive party. Patrick Kane gave a preview of the glory with an exhausting 12-hour round-trip to New York to show off the Cup Wednesday on the Late Show with David Letterman.
The Cup has continually broken curfew since it landed at O’Hare Airport at 4 a.m. Tuesday.
“Every spot we’ve hit has been unbelievable,” Shaw said. “Fans flooding the streets. Fans everywhere screaming. It’s pretty surreal.”
The drinks are on a grateful city.
“The bars have been good to us,” Shaw said. “We thought we’d return the favor.”
With his 21st birthday off in October, top rookie Brandon Saad is relegated to spectator amid the bar hopping.
“We’ve all been together,” he said. “It’s been awesome.”
While the Hawks enjoy the spoils of victory, their general manager and staff are back at work. General manager Stan Bowman had to prepare for the amateur draft Sunday. Then he’ll address shaping next season’s roster.
Some veterans will depart, making way for the next wave of Shaws and Saads from minor-league Rockford. Bowman wants to re-sign free-agent winger Bryan Bickell, whose stellar postseason play has upped his price.
“I enjoyed it here,” Bickell said. “I got drafted here. I think this is a second home for me. We’re going to work on something.”
Is a “hometown discount” a possibility?
“Yeah, definitely. This is a great team,” Bickell said.
The 'great' team who will have to party fast. Training camp starts in 2 ½ months.
“Short summer,” Kane said.