Ask any NHL player or executive, and they'll tell you winning the Stanley Cup never gets old. Winning it at home in front of your own fans is even better.
The Chicago Blackhawks have that chance after Antoine Vermette scored two minutes into the third period to give the a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at Amalie Arena. The Blackhawks now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, and can win the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons with Game 6 set for Monday at the United Center. The recent two Cup victories came in Philadelphia and Boston, respectively.
Chicago has won the championship at home twice in franchise history: 1934 and 1938. Only one of those times did the Stanley Cup actually make an appearance following the triumph, however.
The first one wasn't expected. The Hawks finished the 1933-34 NHL regular season with a 20-17-11 record and scored an NHL-low 88 goals in 48 games under coach Tommy Gorman's tutelage. Gorman counted on goaltender Charlie Gardiner, who won his second Vezina Trophy after allowing a league-low 83 goals, to keep the team in games.
The Hawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, which was then a two-game, total-goals aggregate series format. In the second round, Chicago ousted the Montreal Maroons in the same format.
Chicago met the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit for their first Cup Final game. The Hawks beat the Red Wings twice in Motown (2-1 and 4-1) to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five series. The Red Wings responded with a 5-2 win in Game 3 at Chicago Stadium, but Harold "Mush" March scored after 30 minutes of overtime in Game 4 to give Chicago its first Cup.
The second run to a championship was even more improbable.
Chicago was the lowest scoring team in the league with a 14-25-9 record. The team was led by Bill Stewart, the first American coach to win a Cup.
It started much like the first with an opening round series against the Canadiens. The Black Hawks defeated the Canadiens in three games, clinching the series with a 3-2 overtime goal at the Montreal Forum. In the next round, the Black Hawks again dropped the opening game, but won the next two to defeat the New York Americans.
The Black Hawks then drew the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs, who had swept the Boston Bruins, the best team in the regular-season. Due to a toe injury to the Hawks' No. 1 goaltender, Mike Karakas, Chicago started Alfie Moore, a member of the Maple Leafs' farm team, the Pittsburgh Hornets of the International-American Hockey League.
But that wasn't the initial plan. Hawks backup goaltender Paul Goodman was at his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and unable to make the trip to Toronto. Stewart reached out to New York Rangers star goaltender Davey Kerr to play, but Leafs manager Conn Smythe protested the move.
Smythe eventually let Stewart use Moore between the pipes.
The Hawks stunned the Leafs, 3-1, in Game 1 and Moore, who was hungover, received a standing ovation from the Maple Leaf Gardens crowd. Smythe didn't let Moore play Game 2, and he was given $300 and a watch for his efforts. Moore would only play in three more NHL games.
Goodman replaced Moore in Game 2 and gave up five goals in a 5-1 loss.
With the series tied, 1-1, the Hawks equipment staff placed a steel guard inside Karakas' skate to protect his broken toe for him to play Game 3. Karakas led the team to a 2-1 victory in Chicago, and the Hawks clinched the championship with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 of the best-of-five series.
Frank Calder, the first president of the NHL, didn't think the Hawks would beat the Leafs, however, so he left the Cup in Toronto, where it remained as the Hawks won the title. Here's to guessing the league won't make the same mistake ever again.