The 2013-14 Stanley Cup champs celebrated the return of hockey on this week, as the Chicago Blackhawks fresh from the summer celebrations and trips around the world with the Stanley Cup returned to the United Centre on Tuesday night.
The Hawks took to the home ice a for their home opener and one more chance to salute their fans, reveal the Stanley Cup banner and relive one more time that remarkable run for the Cup of last year.
Defending a title is one of the hardest things to do in sport, the expectations high the challenges many, on any given night the Stanley Cup champs arrive in some town, where the home side will be looking for the momentum boost of knocking off the champion.
Add into the mix the ever changing nature of line ups and departures (and arrivals) by way of free agency and one year's Stanley Cup Final lineup won't always have much in common with the one posted at the start of the next season.
It could explain why it's rare that we see back to back champions and dynasties as often as in the past. The road to Stanley is a long and tiring one, the added pressure of defending your title just one more thing to carry with you from city to city over the regular season and if all goes according to plan into the playoffs.
The Hawks have the jewelry to showcase their success for 2013-14, the impressive keepsake that will always be special to the squad of last year. Symbolic of their excellence and team work in a most unusual season.
This year's contingent of Hawks will be looking to set their own course, building on last year, but with some new new members of the crew ready for the lengthy journey ahead.
In Chi Town, the fans are hoping that Tuesday's celebration of the second Cup in four years will be followed by another one next fall, celebrating a third in five by the end of June 2014.
A benchmark, that could place the Blackhawks closer to dynasty territory, calling to mind the days of the Red Wings, Islanders, Canadiens and Oilers.
Chicago ring makers are standing by, awaiting the call to get to work. 29 other NHL teams, looking to keep them from their craft.
Some of the reviews of the opening night celebration can be found below.
Chicago Tribune-- Hawks ceremony makes for another banner night
Chicago Tribune-- Another banner night 'pretty cool' for Hawks
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks raise banner, spirits with 6-4 opening-night win
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks' opening night banner ceremony
WGN-- Hawks win opener on banner night
WGN-- Hawks fans roll out red carpet as team opens season at home
CBS Chicago 2-- Blackhawks Banner Raising a Rare Treat for Chicago
ESPN-- Hawks move on after banner ceremony
USA Today-- Chicago Blackhawks banner raising ceremony
USA Today-- Get first look at Blackhawks' Stanley Cup Rings