My Favourite Blackhawks Team
I thought I would switch things up with this blog. I'm putting a pause on the bubble, goaltending, and future Blackhawks talk and going back in time to select my favourite Hawks team.
What a fun exercise this was to put this article together and I'm excited to hear your own favourites.
To preface this entire blog, this is how I put my team together:
* I had to have watched the player play on TV or live (therefore my team era is 1989-present)
* I constructed a team the way I think a winning team should be built; not picking simply the best players, but also need role players
* I picked guys that, well, I liked the best, not just for their skill
* The lines are subject to change but I have put thought into chemistry
Essentially, I went over every individual season from 1989-90 to 2020 and made my list. It's nothing scientific or wasn't exactly driven from their statistics with the Blackhawks, more just how I "felt", who did I truly enjoy the most. Who did I like watching play and who I have enjoyed following over the 30 years as a Blackhawks fan?
As you will see, my selections are biased based on the Blackhawks from the Cup-winning teams. What can I say? Those guys give me the feels more than those dark years, which makes sense.
Before I dive into my roster, here are some fun notes and thoughts I collected after sifting through season by season while researching for this blog:
* I had instant haunting memories from those Arnarson-Bell-Calder years.
* I couldn't bring myself to have Alex Zhamnov on the team; good player but still heartbroken from that Roenick trade.
* Keith Carney and Eric Weinrich were the OG Hjalmarsson-Oduya pairing before those guys became Gods in Chicago.
* I keep forgetting Phil Housley ever played on the Hawks until I see his name and every time I do, I'm then reminded of that time he, Theo Fleury, and Tyler Arnason were caught at the strip club as Fleury was on one of his benders.
* Damn, it's been so nice to have Corey Crawford in net for the last decade after seeing what came before him (ie. Steve Passmore, woof)
* It was very evident to see the correlation between the Hawks' success and the increase in overall depth and skill (Toews and Kane really helped too).
* I had weird soft spots for some guys like Ben Smith and Sergei Krivokrasov (not that they would have ever made my team).
Without further ado, here is my all-time favourite Blackhawks team:
Sharp – Toews (C) – Hossa
Amonte – Roenick – Kane
Daze – Savard – Larmer
Ladd – Bolland – Byfuglien
Keith – Seabrook (A)
Chelios (A) – Suter
Hjalmarsson – Oduya
Extras: Shaw, Danault, Campbell, Niemi
I know, I know… you hate some of my selections. You also see some major objections. Let me go through and add a quick blurb per player on my team, as well as comment on a few guys who just missed the cut:
* Patrick Sharp – "Sharpshooter" makes this list easy as he was so instrumental in not only three Stanley Cup wins, but giving hope to the franchise as they turned things around.
* Jonathan Toews – He is the captain of my team and will go down as one of the best leaders in NHL history.
* Marian Hossa – The best player I ever watched live… if I envisioned a perfect, robot hockey player thing… it's Hossa.
* Tony Amonte – Dude could fly and score and was one of my favourite players to watch growing up.
* Jeremy Roenick – I became not only a Blackhawks fan but also a hockey fan right when JR broke into the league. He was my all-time favourite (along with Belfour) as I spent hours emulating his game in the driveway during road hockey sessions by myself or with my brother.
* Patrick Kane – Do I have to say anything about #88? I like how he rounds out my All-American line. I think he and JR would have been magical together (if their prime years lined up).
* Eric Daze – This big lug was one of the only players that got me through some of those dark years. I wish he could have stayed healthy.
* Denis Savard – He is the reason I wear #18 in hockey and was a treat to watch. I got to meet Savard and he is the nicest person in the world. He's my 3rd line C on my team.
* Steve Larmer – I added a sniper on the RW to round out this line. Larmer played the game the right way and should be in the HHOF.
* Andrew Ladd – I loved the way Ladd played in his first tour with Chicago. This dude was a warrior and was built for playoff hockey.
* Dave Bolland – You knew "The Rat" had to make an appearance on my team. What a great way to round out the centre depth on this squad.
* Dustin Byfuglien – Yes, I'm playing him on the wing. I still have very clear visions on his dominance when he was playing forward; I watched his game #3 OT winner and his GWG in game #4 of the Hawks vs. SJ series in 2010.
* Duncan Keith – This guy is still going strong. Without Keith, the Hawks may have only won 1 Cup.
* Brent Seabrook – Yes, we all hate his contract but this guy is the heartbeat of those Hawks championship teams. One of the biggest warriors I've ever seen.
* Chris Chelios - Speaking of warriors, Chelios is near the top of that category. He was a great captain and almost led the Hawks to a Cup in 1991-92.
* Gary Suter – While Suter only played 5 seasons in Chicago, I just remember how great he and Chelios were together. Suter's 20 goal campaign in 1995-96 specifically stands out.
* Niklas Hjalmarsson – I miss this dude a lot. I hate calling all of these guys warriors, but anyone that watched Hammer play would have a hard time coming up with another word to describe him.
* Johnny Oduya – What a break Oduya caught as he was traded from Winnipeg to Chicago on February 27th, 2012. He slid in perfectly to complement Hjalmarsson to round out the Hawks top 4 and went on to win 2 Stanley Cups. I also have a hilarious story about him in Thailand (ask me about it sometime).
* Ed Belfour – I used to spend countless hours drawing Eddie the Eagle's mask (I was into drawing and his mask is still the all-time best). I played net for a period of time and tried to mimic Eddie's picturesque butterfly style. For a guy who got so out of control in his personal life, he sure looked pretty on the ice. Well, when he wasn't taking out someone's knees.
* Corey Crawford – I just wrote a blog about how it's been amazing to have the steadiness of a guy like Crawford for the last decade. People shouldn't take this guy for granted. He's on my team and will start when Belfour's too hungover too.
I also selected some extras for this team with an additional 2 forwards, 1 defenceman, and 1 goalie. Here is why these gents made the team:
* Andrew Shaw – I love me some Andrew Shaw. I love his energy and versatility. I sure hope #65 can make a healthy return next season. He's definitely on my team, even if it's just to keep the guys loose in the room.
* Phillip Danault – This one might stand out to some. I know we talk about that horrendous trade sent Danault from CHI to MTL, but I don't think you all understand the level of hockey crush I had on this guy. I was a fan before he was drafted and I followed him really closely when I watched him live at the prospect camps, the AHL, and when he finally made it to Chicago. I knew this guy was going to be a hell of a player and thought he was going to have a big role in Chicago for years. Honestly, I hate you Bowman for this one.
* Brian Campbell – Soupy is my 7th defenceman who can jump in if we need some offence. Campbell wasn't always perfect in Chicago, but he was huge on that 2010 team. I'm happy he's helping the Hawks' youth now.
* Antti Niemi – I have to take the guy who was in net for the Blackhawks who won their first cup in 47 years. He was raw, he was an adventure, he was also a winner.
Here are some guys who just missed the cut and/or Hawks that you're screaming at your computer screen about because I didn't select them:
* Artemi Panarin – The Breadman has more pure skill than 95% of the people on my team but I didn't include him on my team. His tenure was so short in Chicago and while I liked him, he just fell short of guys "I liked" on LW.
* Michal Frolik – He almost made my team as the 3LW, but went with the more nostalgic pick in Daze instead. Frolik carved out a great skillset in Chicago shifting from offensive high draft pick to overall stud and defensive specialist.
* Brandon Saad – I like Saad a lot but he's doesn't make the cut over the other wingers I have on my team.
* Marcus Kruger – If I wasn't crushing so hard on Danault, Kruger would be there in his spot.
* Scott Darling, Ray Emery, Antti Raanta – I loved all 3 of these guys and could have easily made the cut.
Here is a list of names that haven't been mentioned yet that I wrote down for whatever reason. I'm providing them now in hope that they might bring back memories or make you feel things: John Madden, Brad Richards, Martin Havlat, Dirk Graham, Joe Murphy, Kris Versteeg, Bryan Bickell, Michel Goulet, Troy Brouwer, Brent Sopel, Michal Rozsival, Tuomo Ruutu, Steve Sullivan, Jocelyn Thibault, Murray Craven, Troy Murray, Ben Eager, and Bob Probert.
Wow. That was fun and takes me back to the early days of when I became a Blackhawks fan.
It also makes me really feel grateful for the 3 Stanley Cups I witnessed in my lifetime. Even if I don't see another one, I will also cherish those moments and those players that made "me feel things".
Maybe you grew up in a different era. Maybe you would build a team that includes Robert Lang. I would love to hear who would make your team. Be sure to include on the message boards. It would be really fun to see whom you all pick.
Stay safe and see ya out there!