Chicago Blackhawks: Most Underachieving 'Hawks Teams Ever

Andy Campbell @@andycampbell16Correspondent IJune 8, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: Most Underachieving 'Hawks Teams Ever

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    Despite it being a mere two seasons since they won it all, it has never been easy for the Chicago Blackhawks to claim the NHL's biggest prize.

    While the 'Hawks have had some great teams over the years, more often than not they have fallen short. Some of the time they were beat by better opponents, and other times they left fans and faithful scratching their heads, wondering what happened.

    Like any team, the 'Hawks have had a number of clubs that turned out terrific regular seasons and imploded when it matters most. The 'Hawks have also had teams that seemed like they had the right mix, only to disappoint all season long.

    So grab a cup of coffee and turn on some depressing music.  Here's a short list of teams that we thought could have been.


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    In the 1942-43 season, the 'Hawks had offensive fire power. The problem was they got scored on all the time. 

    The 'Hawks finished 17-18-15 and clearly had trouble closing out opponents. Only three of their 17 wins came on the road. With a mere three road wins and a whopping 15 ties, the 'Hawks finished fifth in the NHL, finishing one point behind the fourth place Montreal Canadiens. During the original six era, only the top four clubs made it to the extra season, and the 'Hawks finished out of the money by a whisker.

    The 'Hawks Max Bentley led the league in scoring. and though the squad had talent, they could not put it together. The 1942-43 campaign turned into a season of mediocrity and missed opportunities.


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    In the final season before the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams, the 'Hawks were untouchable in the regular season.

    The 'Hawks went 41-17-12, scored more goals than any other team (264), allowed the fewest (170) and finished 17 points ahead of any other team in the league.

    The 'Hawks then bowed out in the first round, then the NHL semi-finals, 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs would go on to win the Stanley Cup. 

    How did the 'Hawks respond in the offseason? They traded Phil Esposito.  Oh man.


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    The season after they went to the Stanley Cup Finals, the 1971-72 'Hawks finished 46-17-15 with 107 points. That was good for first place in the NHL West Division.

    Led by a 50-goal output by Bobby Hull, the 'Hawks had six 20-goal scorers and only allowed 106 goals, fewest in the league.

    Then, after a quarter final sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 'Hawks took on a solid New York Rangers team.

    The 'Hawks were uncompetitive and were shattered in four straight games. While the 'Hawks had a great season on a number of levels, the way it ended was incredibly disappointing for the 'Hawks faithful. 


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    In the 1984-85 season, the Hawks made it to the Clarence Campbell Conference Finals and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, Edmonton Oilers

    The 1985-86 season brought a lot of promise and optimism as the 'Hawks won the regular season Norris Division title.

    The 'Hawks were then shocked in three straight games by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were 25-48-7 that season. Yikes.

    That year, Steve Smith and the Oilers were eliminated in the second round. This season could have been special as the 'Hawks would not have had to go through Edmonton to the finals.

    Oh well. They forgot they had to play the Leafs first.


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    If there was ever a season where it felt like the Stars were aligned, this was the one.

    In the 1990-91 season Chicago hosted the All-Star game and had outstanding single season performances from Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, Dirk Graham and rookie Ed Belfour.

    The 'Hawks finished with 106 points and won the Presidents' Trophy.

    While many were thinking Cup, the upstart Minnesota North Stars had other ideas. In the first round of the postseason, the Stars dispatched the 'Hawks in six games.

    This 'Hawks team will go down as the "best that never was." 


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    Two years later the 'Hawks were on top of the Norris again. 21 points separated the 'Hawks from their first round opponent, the St. Louis Blues.

    It mattered not.

    Curtis Joseph was outstanding in the first round, and the 'Hawks were dusted in a four-game sweep.

    In a season where Chris Chelios won the Norris and Ed Belfour won the Vezina, few envisioned the season ending as quickly as it did.


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    It's easy to sit here now and say the 'Hawks did not have the right ingredients this year. That statement is not necessarily false. 

    What is true is this: on January 1, nobody would have predicted the 'Hawks to finish sixth in the conference and get bounced out in the first round.

    On New Years' Day, the 'Hawks had more points (52) than any team in the NHL. They were first in the West and look looked to be hitting their stride. 

    Then the bottom dropped out. Injuries happened, they had a nine-game skid and ultimately the season turned for the worse. 

    No, the 'Hawks did not have the right make-up this year. They were not as good as they thought and they were not as good as the fans thought either.

    Originally, many thought 2011-12 was going to be another banner year in Chicago and when things fell apart, it was disappointing for all.