CHICAGO - JUNE 11: Jonathan Toews #19 (L) and Patrick Kane #88 celebrate with the crowd during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory parade and rally on June 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Holding the Stanley Cup high to thousands of cheering Blackhawks fans, team captain Jonathan Toews described it all as "unbelievable."
"For the guys that were here in 2010, we didn't think there was a chance we could match that performance by the fans," Toews told the crowd, "but you guys did somehow. This shows how unbelievable this city is."
It was a moment throngs of fans waited all morning for.
Buses departed the United Center just before 10:30 a.m. local time, to kick off the team's Stanley Cup victory parade en route to Grant Park
Thousands of fans gathered in Grant Park hours before gates were set to open Friday morning for a victory rally and parade to celebrate the team's win. Fans began arriving as early as 1 a.m. CDT for a rally planned at Hutchinson Field roughly at 11 a.m CDT.
Chants of "USA, USA" were heard as Jim Cornelison completed the National Anthem. Team leaders and players were announced to raucous applause and cheers.
"We will never waver from our one goal," Hawks CEO and President John McDonough told a sea of red-clad fans.
"To each and every one of you, I can't tell you how proud we are of you," Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said of the players. "When people ask me what you guys are like, I tell them you're incredible, you're decent young men, a little furry at times but without question, truly gifted athletes."
The last victory celebration for the Stanley Cup-winning team, in 2010, drew a crowd that officials estimated to be nearly two million people. A ticker tape-covered crowd stretched all the way to Grant Park, and throngs of fans crowded the intersection of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue to celebrate that Stanley Cup victory.