Blackhawks' dominant run one for the books

CHICAGO -- Three Stanley Cups in six years?

Dynasty. Dominance. Damn good hockey team.

Call it whatever you want. This is no time for semantics.

Commissioner Gary Bettman declared an unofficial dynasty Monday night after the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals at United Center.

The commissioner didn’t get booed for that decision, that’s for sure.

When the question of what defines a dynasty comes up ... well, it’s a good problem to have, right?

“I don’t even know what that means, to be honest with you,” Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said. “We’ve got three in six years. I think that’s pretty good.”

Three Stanley Cups in six years? That’s damn near impossible in the salary-cap structure of the National Hockey League, where Kane and Jonathan Toews combine to make Jay Cutler-type money.

And in Chicago? Well, there’s a clear pecking order when it comes to legacies. There's the Michael Jordan Bulls and the Kane-and-Toews Blackhawks.

Yes, Jordan’s Bulls are in their own stratosphere. But these Blackhawks, winners in 2010, 2013 and 2015, are stick-tapping at their door.

“What do we have, seven guys that have been part of three now?” Kane said. “So we’ve been around the block once or twice. We enjoy these moments. We enjoy being in these situations. Who knows how many opportunities are going to come along even after this? So we want to take advantage of the ones we’re a part of.”

Kane did just that, scoring his first goal of the series in the third period to give the Blackhawks a two-goal cushion and the fans a chance to breathe. It was the first two-goal lead for either team in a wildly entertaining series. It was the perfect time for a man with exquisite showmanship.

“People are so lucky to have a guy that clutch,” Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg said. “And Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews. Three of the clutchest players in the world.”

All three are now Conn Smythe winners.

Keith scored the first goal, late in the second period, and played 30 minutes, 19 seconds. It only seems like he never leaves the ice. That’s why he was a unanimous choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

"It's about time," Toews said of Keith's recognition.

“I’m proud to be a part of this group of guys that cares so much they’ll do whatever it takes,” Keith said.

Three in six years? Forget the NHL -- outside of the aforementioned 1990s Bulls, that just doesn’t happen in Chicago, home of the one-year wonders and never-in-100-years running jokes.

The 1985 Bears, for all their bluster, couldn’t do it again. The 2005 White Sox? They’ve made one playoff trip in the ensuing decade.

The Cubs recently made the playoffs three times in six years. In two of those trips, they didn’t win a game.

Derrick Rose's Bulls run was waylaid by his unhelpful knees.

This is a wonderful, cosmopolitan, complicated, beautiful city that is just used to playoff disappointments.

But not with the Blackhawks -- who, let's remember, came within an overtime goal in last year's conference finals of making three consecutive Cup finals.

Other teams teach character lessons. This team brings uncomplicated joy.

“We wanted it for each other, for the city,” Toews said, just after reporters made it onto the ice and as fans celebrated in the seats. “In so many ways, winning a championship like this in our own city, it transcends the sport. Everyone wants to be a part of it. It’s amazing. You can feel the energy in here. I’m trying my best to explain it right now. It’s definitely overwhelming.”

He'll have the time to keep explaining how awesome it is to win championships in Chicago.

Toews is 27. Kane is 26. They aren’t done by a long shot.

Those two, linked in history already, are the core of this team.

Keith turns 32 next month -- if in fact the indefatigable defenseman actually ages like a human being.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is 28. Goaltender Corey Crawford, now with two Cups, is 30. He went from being benched in the first round to closing out the Cup with a shutout.

There are veterans such as Patrick Sharp, a three-time winner, who could be on their way out. There are young talents ready to assume bigger roles. Andrew Shaw is 23. Brandon Saad is 22. Teuvo Teravainen is, I believe, 14.

It’s hard to believe it has been only seven seasons of the reborn Blackhawks. Eight since Rocky Wirtz took over for his dad.

An amazing confluence of events created the core of this championship team. Maybe the late Bill Wirtz just played the long con and orchestrated the ultimate rebuilding job, taking a team to the very bottom of the sport before going on a run of drafting future Hall of Famers.

Probably not, but it happened just the same.

Maybe it was predestined that coach Joel Quenneville was available just as this team was ready. It’s almost underrated how general manager Stan Bowman stepped in to replace Dale Tallon, a guy who deserves undying credit here, and kept improving the team after salary-cap problems decimated the 2010 Cup-winners.

Maybe the Blackhawks had to go from a complete afterthought in the city to become champions. But can you believe it happened in less than a decade?

It’s quite a story. Not one for deadlines and crowded media rooms. It’s a tale for poets and children’s bedtimes. For bar room walls and banners in suburban basements.

One thing I know is we’ll be talking about these Blackhawks forever.