As the Stanley Cup Finals came to an end last night and we watched Jonathan Toews pass the the Stanley Cup along, it became a bit more clear how much this Championship meant to certain players.
It seems that many Stanley Cup teams have a skilled veteran or two chasing his first cup, or maybe even a second, as their career winds down. Three Blackhawks players in particular had plenty of experience in the NHL, but were a big part of the chase for that elusive Cup. Here’s a look at three new members of the squad who were most deserving of that celebration.
Kimmo Timonen, D – 40 years old
On February 27, 2015, the Philadelphia Flyers dealt Kimmo Timonen to the Blackhawks in exchange for two draft picks. Timonen came into the league during the 1998 season, and played 50 games for the Nashville Predators. He spent eight seasons on the Predators blue line and improved his career bests nearly every season he was there. He then spent 7 seasons with the Flyers before being dealt to Chicago this past season.
In 16 games for the Blackhawks, Timonen was not very productive. In fact, he was a minus 3 overall in those games, and only had 10 shots on goal. Everyone knew he wasn’t on the team to gobble up minutes playing against the oppositions best players, or contribute on the power-play. Timonen was in Chicago to win a Stanley Cup.
Last night, his dream came true. Despite playing only 5 minutes and change in the game, Timonen was the first to receive the Cup from Jonathan Toews. He has also decided to go out on top and retire as a Stanley Cup champion.
Antoine Vermette, C – 32 years old
Only a day after adding Timonen to their roster, the Blackhawks bolstered their depth at center by trading for Antoine Vermette from the Phoenix Coyotes. Vermette is a skilled playmaker who has plenty of experience in the NHL, over 10 seasons, but was still chasing his first Stanley Cup.
Vermette had the playoff experience Chicago was looking for when they made the trade. His 2006-07 Senators made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, and his Coyotes squad in 2012 went to the Western Conference Finals.
However, it wasn’t until a deadline deal sent him to the Blackhawks that Vermette would win a Cup.
Vermette was a big contributor during the postseason as well. He finished the playoffs with 4 goals and 3 assists in 20 games, along with a plus 5 rating. Three of his four goals turned out to be game winners, including game 5 against Tampa Bay.
Coincidentally, Vermette was also the third player to raise the Stanley Cup after Toews and Timonen.
Brad Richards, C – 35 years old
Richards was another depth addition for the Blackhawks, however, he signed as a free agent last summer.
After not living up to expectations with a high contract in New York, the Rangers bought out Richards’ remaining years which allowed him to sign where he pleases. As Richards found himself falling out of his prime years, signing with another Stanley Cup contender was definitely a priority.
Brad Richards definitely had the experience the Blackhawks wanted. He played in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Rangers in the previous season, and was also a Conn Smythe winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. Who would have thought that Richards would defeat his former team to capture a second Cup?
Despite not being one of Chicago’s go to contributors, Richards was quite effective this postseason. He managed to pick up 3 goals and add another 11 assists for 14 points in 23 games played. He also had a beautiful, and clutch, no look assist on Patrick Kane’s third period goal in game 6 which helped seal the victory.
Richards would emerge as the next player to hoist the cup following Vermette. This win ended a 10 season Stanley Cup drought for Richards.