Andrew Desjardins stood on the ice in happy disbelief, thrilled at the final result but also a little exhausted by what it took to get here.
“The amount of work that’s put in to getting to this is just hard to imagine,” said Desjardins, who had played no more than 11 playoff games in any year before playing 21 with the Blackhawks. “When you’ve never done it, you don’t even understand how much work it is to get here. It feels amazing right now.”
For the newest Blackhawks, such as Desjardins, Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen, there was a sense of awe to go along with the celebration after the Blackhawks claimed their third Stanley Cup in the past six seasons. They’re part of a team that makes annual lengthy trips to the postseason. It’s grueling, it’s exhausting but at the end of this trek, it was also worth the grind.
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“It’s surreal,” said Vermette, whose only other trip to the Stanley Cup Final was in 2007 with the Ottawa Senators. “It’s probably something you’ve heard in the past from different players but it’s tough to describe exactly what’s going on right now. At the end of the day you want it to sink in and enjoy every moment.”
Desjardins and Vermette, trade-deadline acquisitions, made big contributions down the stretch. Teravainen, who made tremendous strides from the start of this fall, also had clutch outings. Desjardins fit in well on the Blackhawks’ fourth line with Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger, forming a reliable trio that Desjardins said was always on the same page.
“It almost felt instantaneous,” Desjardins said. “We had great communication, we knew where each other was. It’s just one of those things that worked. We never stressed each other out, we were always positive. It just worked. It’s a great feeling when you play with two guys like that.”
Teravainen talked of his ups and downs this season, be it healthy scratches or trying to adapt to a new country and language. He went from a player who was hesitant to shoot or speak to one who was confident in both realms.
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“I had to be patient and trust myself,” Teravainen said. “I think I’ve been getting more in the group all season. First, it was hard with the language change, but I think I’ve gotten better all the time. I finally got it, so I’m pretty excited right now.”
The newest Blackhawks embraced their roles with this team. It was going to take heavy lifting to lift that Cup. They bought into the plan. Now they’re reaping the reward.
“I was saying to the other guys, I think I had a pretty good workout this summer, I probably could handle [lifting the Cup] but I didn’t want to drop it,” Vermette said. “That was my first thought. It’s pretty special. Such a unique and special moment, I’ll cherish it the rest of my life.”