The 2012-13 Stanley Cup banner is hanging from the rafters of the United Center, and now the Chicago Blackhawks' title defense is officially underway. The ceremony itself is always an emotional experience, as the players have one last chance to contemplate their championship run.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rest of the 'Hawks now have bull's-eyes firmly planted on their backs, but they had one last moment of reflection before getting the season started against the Washington Capitals.
Before the game could get underway, though, Chicago had a show to put on for all the loyal fans that showed up to cheer for the banner raising. The 'Hawks didn't disappoint as they put on an entertaining ceremony that included commentary from Eddie Olczyk and a speech from owner Rocky Wirtz.
It didn't take long for fans to break out the lighters...er, their cell phones to create an electric atmosphere at the United Center. The crowd was loud and the energy was palpable.
This video manages to capture the energy and atmosphere as fans eagerly await the presentation of the Stanley Cup banner.
Here's another distance shot of the fans going bananas at the United Center. The main attractions of the Stanley Cup, banner and players had yet to appear but the emotion in the air was outstanding.
Rocky Wirtz has taken the 'Hawks from the bottom of bottoms to the top of the tops. Chicago has gone from being NHL basement dwellers to consistent Stanley Cup contenders, and Wirtz is thankful for the support that the city has shown along the way.
Fans and pundits like Chicago's chances of repeating, and who can blame them?
It was a classy and fun move by the 'Hawks to allow youth hockey players to skate the banner out to the players. To say they'll remember that moment for the rest of their lives is an understatement.
Here's the view from the upper bowl at the United Center:
Here's the moment the players and fans have all been waiting for:
Finally, there's this breathtaking Vine from the ice during the banner raising itself. What an awesome moment to cap off an excellent and well-deserved ceremony.
Here's one last excellent overhead shot to get you through the evening: