Chicago Blackhawks: Greatest Moments Since the Lockout
In the seven years since, they were in the NHL doghouse. They were credited as the worst franchise in sports by ESPN. They couldn’t fill half of their arena with fans.
They’ve also drafted all-stars, clinched their division and consecutive playoff spots and led the league in attendance for three consecutive years.
I’m sure there’s something I’m missing.
Anyway, here are the 20 greatest moments for the Chicago Blackhawks since the lockout.
Hiring of Dale Tallon
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Hawks fans have mixed feelings about former general manager Dale Tallon.
His key draft acquisitions were mostly no-brainers, and many of his free-agent signings were atrocious, but under his management the right players were developed correctly, key pieces were acquired and it was the team he assembled that concluded the 2010 NHL playoffs as Stanley Cup champions.
He was given a cellar-dwelling organization and turned it into a notable contender in a very short timespan. He is now the general manager in Florida, and the Panthers seem to be in fine fettle under his management.
Trading Matt Ellison to Philadelphia
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Matt Ellison was drafted in the fourth round (128th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Ellison would play a grand total of 36 games for the Blackhawks, putting up 13 points.
In December 2005, Ellison was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for career-AHLer Eric Meloche and a winger by the name of Patrick Sharp.
Ellison and Meloche are both currently playing in Europe and have seen very little NHL time. Patrick Sharp is now an all-star winger and a perennial 30-goal scorer.
This is by far one of the greatest moves Dale Tallon made as general manager of the Blackhawks.
Drafting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane
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I realize these two were taken at two different times, in two separate draft years, but the duo has been unmistakably linked since joining the Blackhawks organization.
They broke out in the 2007-08 NHL season. Both were nominated for the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year.
Since then, they both have won a Stanley Cup; both have medaled in the Winter Olympics for men’s ice hockey; and both have marked their status as key components to a very young, strong franchise.
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John McDonough was hired as president of the Chicago Blackhawks organization in 2007. Ever since, the franchise has shown drastic improvements both in performance and in relevance.
He brought iconic figures Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and Dennis Savard back to the organization as ambassadors. He has formed partnerships with other professional sports organizations around the Chicago area, and has made it possible for Hawks fans to view all 82 regular season Blackhawks games locally.
His marketing prowess has turned this organization from an irrelevant money-pit into one of the most successful business turnarounds in professional sports history.
Jonathan Toews Goal vs. Colorado (10/19/2007)
Before Jordan Eberle’s masterpiece, there was this YouTube sensation.
In this same game, Patrick Kane would score his first NHL goal, but it seemed overshadowed by this pretty number. Toews conjured a 1990s Mario Lemieux to set up this goal.
A magnificent goal that foreshadowed things to come for the Hawks’ current captain.
Captain Serious (7/18/2008)
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When Jonathan Toews was named team captain during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Blackhawks Convention, he became just the third-youngest captain crowned in league history.
Toews was openly being groomed for captaincy, and it was only a matter of time before the “C” donned his sweater. After their first winning season since making the playoffs in 2002, then-coach Dennis Savard handed captaincy to Toews, and since then, he’s led the team both in quality of play and quality of sportsmanship.
It may be a bold statement, but I feel it’s likely that Jonathan Toews will be the last player to wear the number 19 in an Indianhead sweater.
Hiring Joel Quenneville (10/16/2008)
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Many hockey critics may now be reconsidering Joel Quenneville’s role as head coach of the Blackhawks, but when he was hired in 2008, he was the perfect man for the job.
The Hawks had a lot of high-powered, offensive talent, but that talent needed direction. Quenneville’s high-octane, puck-possession style suited the Hawks well, and he carried the team all the way to the Western Conference finals in 2009.
He’s achieved substantial landmarks as coach of the Blackhawks, and has built a magnificent rapport with the fans. Most importantly, he coached a Stanley Cup title to Chicago in 2010.
With another 100+ point season under his belt in 2012, it will take a lot to get Coach Q ousted from his current position.
NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field (1/1/2009)
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Chicago has been one of the few fortunate cities to have hosted a league-sanctioned outdoor regular season game. This has become an iconic annual tradition that has built great storylines and offered unrivaled excitement for regular season matchups.
The 2009 Winter Classic pitted the Chicago Blackhawks against their lifetime rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. The official attendance figure was 40,818, and the game reached an average of 4.4 million television viewers—at the time, the largest in over 30 years.
Win vs. Nashville (4/3/2009)
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In this game, the Blackhawks clinched their first postseason berth since the lockout, ending what was at the time the longest standing playoff drought in the NHL.
Patrick Kane's First Career Playoff Hat Trick vs. Vancouver (5/11/2009)
Patrick Kane may currently be under fire for his offseason antics, but he has been one of the biggest clutch players for the Hawks since he came to the organization.
His first “big” performance came in Game 6 of the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. The Blackhawks led the series 3-2, and it was Patrick Kane who made certain that there would not be a Game 7 in Vancouver.
After a flurry of back-and-forth action that saw both teams hold leads and then lose them, Kane both tied the game at five and then sealed it with a hat trick goal that saw the Hawks win the game 7-5 and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in over a decade.
Many also remember this game for Roberto Luongo’s emotional postgame interview.
Cristobal Huet Save vs. Detroit (5/27/2009)
This was perhaps the greatest goaltending duel in recent memory for the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
Both teams were offensively skilled and showed it throughout the game, but both Cristobal Huet and Chris Osgood provided stellar performances that kept the game scoreless for some time.
Eventually, both teams knotted a goal, but both goalies remained poised and continued making enormous saves. Those saves culminated with this miraculous kick save.
Yes, the Hawks went on to lose this playoff series in overtime, and yes, Cristobal Huet didn’t exactly pan out as the number one goaltender the Hawks thought they signed, but this game and this save were both phenomenal.
Win vs. Calgary (10/12/2009)
Many consider this to be the greatest comeback in Blackhawks history. Regardless, it is definitely the biggest comeback in recent memory.
Less than 12 minutes into the first period, Calgary had already established a 5-0 lead against the Hawks. Even as John Madden scored a goal to cut the lead to 5-1 before the end of the first, the hill seemed too steep to climb.
But the Hawks continued chipping. Patrick Kane scored early on in the second period, and a couple of late period goals by Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland gave the Hawks a one-goal deficit and all the momentum going into the third period.
Patrick Sharp tied the game midway through the third period, giving this once laughable travesty an entirely different outlook.
Brent Seabrook would win the game less than a minute into overtime, completing this monumental comeback.
Three Shorthanded Goals in a Game vs. San Jose (11/25/2009)
In this trouncing of the San Jose Sharks, the Blackhawks would go on to score three shorthanded goals in one game—a rare feat in today’s NHL.
The second shorthanded goal was also Marian Hossa’s first goal as a Chicago Blackhawk. He would score twice in his Blackhawk debut.
The Hawks also accomplished this feat in the 2007-08 season against Detroit.
Win vs. Nashville (4/24/2010)
The Hawks had a series of last minute comebacks in the 2012 playoff series with Phoenix, but none of them would be as emotionally gratifying or as perfectly constructed as this game over Nashville.
NHL Stanley Cup quarterfinals, Game 5. The series was tied at 2-2. The Blackhawks trailed the game 4-3 with just over a minute left in regulation. Then Marian Hossa took a five minute major boarding penalty, and all hope seemed lost in the Windy City.
Strangely, it was after this penalty that everything seemed to click for Chicago. The Hawks were able to land control of the puck and send it into the Predators’ end long enough for goalie Antti Niemi to get to the bench.
Now, with skaters even, the Hawks took a lucky bounce that ricocheted off Predators’ winger Joel Ward and sent the game into overtime.
The Hawks killed off the remainder of Hossa’s penalty. Gaining immediate control of the puck, Brent Sopel was eventually able to send a soft slapper from the point towards Pekka Rinne. The puck found its way to none other than Marian Hossa, who scored his first playoff goal as a Hawk and gave his team a 3-2 series lead.
Duncan Keith Loses Seven Teeth vs. San Jose (5/23/2010)
Even those vastly unaware of the sport know that a hockey player needs to be tough. They need to be durable. The sport is punishing, and the punishment continues for 82 games a year in the regular season alone.
But the resiliency of hockey players—that is something that needs to be observed directly.
Down 1-0 and on the power play, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau struck Duncan Keith in the face with the puck in an attempt to clear it out of his zone. Keith left the ice immediately, allowing the Sharks to gain control of the puck and score shorthanded to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.
Keith would return minutes later, assist on the game-tying goal and help lead the Hawks to a 4-0 series sweep of the San Jose Sharks. He would still lead all Hawks in ice time.
2010 Stanley Cup Championship
Win vs. Vancouver (4/19/2011)
They say the clinching game in a playoff series is always the hardest one to close out. The Vancouver Canucks learned that the hard way in 2011.
In this Game 4 at the United Center, the Hawks were trailing the series to the Canucks 3-0. The Hawks received an early first period goal by Bryan Bickell, but a power-play marker that ricocheted off of Brian Campbell into the Hawks’ net put the Hawks in a precarious and familiar situation.
The wistful feeling would not last very long, however, as the Hawks would tally two quick goals early in the second period, giving them a solid 3-1 lead.
David Bolland, in his return from a lengthy absence, would score, as would Michael Frolik. The Hawks would enter the third period with a 5-1 edge.
Daniel Sedin would score off a pretty deflection near the end of the game, but it would not prevent his team from suffering an embarrassing 7-2 loss at the hands of the eighth-seeded Blackhawks.
Given the rivalry between these two clubs and the significance of this elimination game, this was a very fun game for any Hawks fan to watch.
Jonathan Toews Goal vs. Vancouver (4/26/2011)
In this seven game series versus Vancouver, the Blackhawks had some nasty performances. They didn’t play well in Games 1 through 3 and deserved the 3-0 deficit they were ensconced in.
They were able to knot the series up, but when Game 7 rolled around, the Hawks lost their footing again. They played a terrible game, and had it not been for an impressive performance from Corey Crawford, this iconic moment would not have happened.
With two minutes left in the game, shorthanded and trailing 1-0, Jonathan Toews, in desperation mode, decides he’s going to single-handedly carry the puck to the Canucks net. He makes it into his offensive zone well enough before the Vancouver defense smothers him. Despite this, he’s able to get the puck to Marian Hossa. Hoss takes a shot on net that deflects off goalie Roberto Luongo and redirects to Toews. From his stomach, Toews flips the puck underneath Luongo and ties the game at one.
Yes, the Hawks would go on to lose the game and the series in overtime, but my God if this wasn’t the best display of determination and will I’ve seen from a hockey player this generation.
Patrick Kane Shootout Goal vs. Minnesota (12/14/2011)
Patrick Kane may have had an off season offensively, but he still provided vast entertainment for the Hawks’ fan base.
In this instance, Kane does his best Pavel Datsyuk impersonation and leaves Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom wondering why the ice is still spinning.
Marian Hossa Goal vs. Anaheim (10/25/2011)
Usually, when players handle the puck too creatively they recklessly lose control, and it doesn’t end well for them.
But there are also occasions when everything seems to fall into place, and you end up with a very, very pretty play.
In this particular instance, Patrick Kane attempted what has become known as the “Savardian” spin-o-rama and dished the puck over to Marian Hossa on the backhand, who slapped it past Jonas Hiller and finished off one of the prettiest plays from the 2011-12 NHL regular season.