CHICAGO - It's not as if Jonathan Toews didn't appreciate the magic of the moment the first time he hoisted the Stanley Cup.
But three years of trying to touch the trophy again have taught the Chicago Blackhawks captain just how elusive hockey's biggest prize can be.
There are all sorts of reasons why a repeat championship is so difficult in the NHL these days. You can start with the challenges of the salary cap, add in parity and include injuries that inevitably arise during a long playoff run.
But with another shot at it when the Hawks open up against the Boston Bruins at the United Center Wednesday night, Toews certainly apreciates the opportunity that awaits.
"There's no such thing as just cruising to the Stanley Cup final," Toews said after his perfect pass to Patrick Kane late Saturday night resulted in the double overtime winner to get the best team of the regular season to the final. "The guys in this room that were there in 2010 and have been there ever since understand that. We know what it takes. Everyone else is following suit.