The Blackhawks were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year on Tuesday night. This will now be the fourth consecutive year without a playoff series win and the third straight without a single playoff win. That’s a fireable offense. I’m looking at you, Stan Bowman. Nonetheless, oh, how the mighty have fallen.
After a nine year stretch of incredible moments, there hasn’t been much to celebrate on West Madison Street. We have exited the glory days. The greatest stretch in franchise history. Three Stanley Cups in six years. Join me in reliving those glory days as we countdown the top 15 moments of the past decade because we all need something to smile at.
15. Ben Smith Sends the Hawks to Game 7 After Being Down 3-0. (2011)
Hockey teams don’t really hate each other anymore. Rivalries are dead and that stinks, but from 2008-2011 the Hawks and Canucks hated each other. Not only did they hate each other, they wanted to kill each other and they tried. The Hawks roster had been decimated by the salary cap after clinching their first cup in 49 years the prior season. Vancouver jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series. It was depressing.
Enter Ben Smith. Marian Hossa, much like he always did, makes a phenomenal play fending off multiple defenders to set it up. On a team full of all stars, the 22-year-old found the back of the net. The UC was up for grabs. Vancouver went on to win game seven (I still haven’t forgiven Chris Campoli for his turnover that ended the series) but this moment in game six was electrifying.
14. Marty Havlat 12 Seconds into Overtime (2009)
Welcome back to the playoffs. The Hawks played their first playoff game since 2002 and boy did they enter with a bang. I was at this contest and it was the game that made me fall in love with hockey. Before the game, the Hawks did their pregame video on the center ice video board. At the end, the entire stadium went dark and then the following words appeared on the board: “Hockey never left Chicago” *flash away* “But it definitely has returned.”
The UC went nuts. It sent a chill down my spine. They say you have to witness a Blackhawks National Anthem in person and you do. However, I say you need to witness a playoff anthem in person. It’s on a whole other level. You can barely hear Jim Cornelison sing. It was the loudest building I’d ever been in. Havlat turned up the UC volume one more time right off the OT puck drop. I’ve been a hockey junkie ever since.
13. I Love Shin Pads (2013)
The longest amount of time I have ever spent in a stadium. I was fortunate enough to attend Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. We arrived for a 7:00 puck drop around 5:00. The game didn’t end until 11:59. Talk about 7 hours of heaven. A very late night at the stadium and not a soul left early.
The Bruins jumped out to a 3-1 lead in this game. The Hawks tied it in the third with goals from Dave Bolland and Johnny Oduya (remember those names for later in the list). And then another game started. The Bruins and Hawks played, essentially, another full game with nearly three periods of overtime, until Andrew Shaw ended it midway through the third overtime on the brink of midnight. Shaw famously scored the game-winner with a deflection off his shin pads and screamed to the UC rafters how much he loved those shin pads.
12. Beating St Louis in 6 After Being Down 2-0. (2014)
Blackhawks fans have 2 things in common: They love Chelsea Dagger and they hate the St Louis Blues. After dropping the first two games in overtime, it looked like the Hawks might drop the series to their bitter rivals. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were having none of that. Kane won game four in overtime, Toews did the same in game five, and then the Hawks slammed the door in St Louis’ face in game six. Oh and never forget: “Wakey Wakey, Backes.”
It was truly and incredible series. It also helped set up one of the greatest series in Stanley Cup Playoff history when the Kings defeated the Hawks in the Western Conference Final. Alec Martinez: still the source of the worst moment of my sport fan life.
Worth noting: The St Louis Blues have zero Stanley Cups in team history.
11. Not Human – Game 7 in Anaheim (2015)
Ryan Kesler famously said earlier in this series that Anaheim’s physical play was going to wear the Hawks down. “No human can withstand that many hits.” Apparently the Hawks weren’t human. The Hawks lost game five in overtime, but Jonathan Toews broke Frederik Andersen with his two late goals to tie the game.
The Hawks went on to dominate games six and seven, two elimination games no less, and the rest is history. This was another classic series that the NHL Network will likely show for years to come. The Hawks went on to add another banner to the rafters and Kesler added yet another failure.
10. The Comeback vs Calgary (2009-2010)
A rematch of the first round series from the previous year, the Flames came to town to take on the team that sent them home the year prior. The Flames surely came out like a team looking for revenge. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the 1st. The game was nationally televised. It was embarrassing.
This was the first moment we learned how special this 2010 team was. They stormed back to tie the game and Seabrook won it in overtime. This team was never dead. They were the hottest show in the league.
9. The Unbeaten Streak Heard Around the World (2013)
We didn’t know if there would be hockey at all in 2013. A lockout shortened the season to 48 games. Yet another lockout was killing hockey and then the Blackhawks came in and dominated the sports media world. Sports Illustrated dubbed them “The Franchise Who Saved Hockey.” The Blackhawks went 24 straight games without losing in regulation to start the year. There’s too many moments from the streak to jot down, so just watch them all here.
8. Squish Fish – Sweeping San Jose (2010)
The Blackhawks weren’t underdogs much over their years of dominance, but they were in the 2010 Western Conference Final. The San Jose Sharks were the top seed in the west and many weren’t sure if the Hawks could handle them. They did that and some.
The Hawks took the first two in San Jose and then came home. Dustin Byfuglien won game three in overtime leading up to the Hawks breaking the brooms out in game four. I went game four and I contest that this was the loudest National Anthem I’ve witnessed. Louder than any Cup Final game. Duncan Keith cemented his warrior status when he got hit in the face with a puck, lost seven teeth and returned to the game in a matter of minutes.
Game four of this series remains one of my favorite sporting events I’ve attended. The energy in the crowd was beyond imagination. There was a parking lot at the United Center filled with television vans. It was the first glimpse of just how big the Blackhawks had become in Chicago.
7. Kane’s Double OT Hat Trick Dethrones the Kings (2013)
Has Patrick Kane ever scored a big goal? After eliminating Detroit in seven games to move on to the Western Conference Final, Kaner was ready to get rid of the defending champions quickly when the chance emerged in game five with the Hawks up in the series 3-1.
Kane scored two goals in regulation before the Kings tied the game in the final seconds to send the contest to overtime. Then in double overtime, in beautiful fashion, it was Toews and Kane on a 2 on 1 to send the Hawks back to the Stanley Cup Final. Toews was the trigger man, he put it right on Kane’s stick and Kane netted his third of the night. The ice was littered with hats and the Hawks were off to the Cup Final.
6. The Legend of Patrick Kane is Born (2009)
Patrick Kane has a laundry list of accomplishments in the NHL with more to come. 3 Stanley Cups. A league MVP. A playoff MVP. But how many guys have literally brought a goaltender to tears?
The second round series against Vancouver in 2009 was every bit of entertaining. It’s often the first playoff series you think of when you think of the birth of these Blackhawks. The Hawks won Game six by a score of 7-5 to send Vancouver packing. Patrick Kane put together his first big time performance in a huge game and scored his first NHL hat trick. Such a feat made Vancouver net-minder, Roberto Luongo, shed a few tears after the game.
5. The Comeback vs Nashville (2010)
Yet another Patrick Kane moment. This one comes in the first round of the playoffs during the Hawks first cup run. The series was tied 2-2. The Hawks found themselves not only down one in the final minute, but shorthanded after Marian Hossa took a major for boarding. Enter Patrick Kane.
Kane found a rebound off of Pekka Rinne and buried a backhanded with 13.6 seconds left in regulation. To make an awesome moment even better, Hossa scored his first Blackhawk playoff goal moments after exiting the penalty box to win it in overtime. Who knows what would have happened that year had the Hawks not won this game.
4. There’s No Place Like Home (2015)
Perhaps the sweetest feeling of the last decade. This one was the cherry on top. The first two Cup runs for the Blackhawks were both special in their own ways. Seeing the contingent of Hawks fans make the travel to see the Cup clinchers in Philly and Boston was like nothing else. But man, there was nothing quite like seeing Jonathan Toews skate the Stanley Cup through a sea of red on Chicago ice.
The game was my type of hockey. Chances both ways, great goaltending and even better defense kept the game tight and low scoring. Two of the Hawks’ horses found the back of the net. Conn Smythe trophy winner Duncan Keith scored on his own rebound and eventually, late in the third Kane put the game on ice. The party was on. Listening to the crowd count down the final 10 seconds in unison still gives me chills to this day.
Side note: let’s take a moment to realize how spoiled we have been as Hawks fans. This moment is the team winning the Cup on home ice and there are still three better moments for this list. Wow.
3. Fill the Cup Up – Kane Ends 49 Year Drought (2010)
Where’s the puck? Did he score? Does Leighton have it? You can view any broadcast from this game and nobody had a clue. NBC, CBC, WGN Radio, nobody knew where the puck was. Well, not “nobody,” Patrick Kane knew it was in immediately. The puck was in the net and for the first time in 49 years, Lord Stanley was moving to the Windy City.
That 2010 team was so much fun. It has been confirmed that that group of young guys partied for 16 straight days after winning that cup. Has there ever been a funner team to watch. This team was loaded. (Damn you, salary cap). So many personalities. So many big moments. Memories you’ll never forget.
Special addition here because this is such an awesome and pure moment from one of the greatest to ever put the Indian head on his chest. Naturally, Mike Milbury couldn’t take a 20 second break from being a piece of shit and let JR have a moment.
2. Seabrook Gets Rid of the Red Wings (2013)
Some may say this is too high on a list with so many great moments. Hell, it’s listed above not one but two Stanley Cup clinchers. However, this is undoubtedly one of the greatest moments in Blackhawks history. Forever, the Hawks were the Red Wings little brother. Detroit had won 4 Cups from ’97-’08. The Hawks lost to them in the Western Conference Final in 2009. They were down 3-1 in the series after amassing one of the most dominant regular season stretches ever. The Detroit-induced demons of the past were creeping back.
The Hawks forced their way to game seven and an already crazy series grew even nuttier. The Hawks had seemingly already won the this game in regulation when Niklas Hjalmarsson blew one past the glove of Jimmy Howard. However, Brandon Saad was called for an offsetting roughing minor for being thrown to the ice and not retaliating, which disallowed Hammer’s goal. That whole OT there was a pit in my stomach. It felt like Detroit was going to do it again. The demons were right on the door step now. And then, in perhaps the biggest moment of relief of my life, Seabrook put those demons to rest when he snapped a wrister past Howard. The Hawks had slayed the dragon.
1. 17 Seconds (2013)
It was unlike anything that had happened before. Unlike anything that’ll ever happen in the future. This series was destined for game seven in Chicago. The Bruins took the lead early in the third period and the Hawks couldn’t answer. Crawford exited for the extra attacker and all hell broke loose.
Q had all the right guys on the ice. The line who carried them through the final two rounds, Bickell-Toews-Kane. The savvy veteran, Michal Handzus, was the extra attacker. Keith makes a hell of a play on the boards, moves it down to Toews, Toews centers to Bickell, Bickell makes no mistake. So, awesome, we’re going to overtime. Maybe Kane can do it again?
Not so fast. Q throws his scrappy line on the ice in Kruger-Bolland-Frolik. Oduya hammers one from the point, it deflects in on Rask, and there was Dave Bolland, “The Rat,” ready to put it home. He threw both his gloves off, this might as well have been an overtime winner. The Hawks had just snatched victory from the hands of defeat and changed their course of history in just 17 seconds. Their second Cup in four years and arguably the greatest moment in Blackhawks history.
What a run this team had. With the misfortune and mismanagement the team has had lately, it can be easy to lose sight of this incredible span of hockey. The Hawks dominated one of the best sports towns in America for an entire decade. It was truly special. These moments should bring joy and pride to any Hawks fan. The run may be over, but man oh man, it was one nobody will soon forget. And if I know Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, I wouldn’t slam the door shut just yet.
One last honorable mention to the greatest parade speech there ever was and ever will be.