With 84 years of history behind them, it takes a lot to be considered one of the greatest Chicago Blackhawks (or Black Hawks) of all-time, 49-year Stanley Cup drought or no.
Sorry, Doug Wilson – you put up the three highest-scoring seasons ever by a Hawks defenseman and a Norris Trophy to boot, but that’s not enough. Steve Larmer, you’re the fourth-highest scoring Hawk of all-time and you played 884 straight games in a Chicago sweater – but too bad for you. Jeremy Roenick, you posted three consecutive 100-point seasons in the ’90s and endeared yourself to all, but that doesn’t mean you make our list.
Nope, we’re tough graders here at The Hockey News. And we’ve got 64 years of wisdom to fall back on. Eight of the 10 players listed are Hockey Hall of Famers – and the other two will be once they’re eligible for entry. This is THN.com’s Top 10 Blackhawks of all-time.
10. Max Bentley, center
Bentley was as prolific as they came during his six seasons with Chicago in the 1940s – a run interrupted by two years in the military. As a Black Hawk Bentley won two Art Ross Trophies, a Hart Trophy and a Lady Byng. Along with brother Doug, the Bentley’s were one of the most dangerous duos the NHL had seen.
9. Ed Belfour, goalie
By THN’s estimate, Belfour had the fifth-best rookie season of all-time with Chicago in 1990-91. He led the league in games played (74), wins (43) – both of which are still team records – and goals-against average, was a first team all-star and won the Calder, Vezina and Jennings Trophies. During the next seven seasons Belfour won another Vezina and three more Jennings.
8. Chris Chelios, defense
Like Belfour, Chelios isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame yet, but he will be as soon as he’s eligible – and a lot of his best work came while playing in the Windy City. Chelios won two Norris Trophies in Chicago, was captain for four years, helped the Hawks to the 1992 Cup final and was a five-time all-star in his eight full campaigns with the team.
7. Earl Seibert, defense
If you don’t know Earl, you don’t know jack. Best remembered as the man who accidentally ended Howie Morenz’s career, Seibert was one of the best blueliners of his era; tough as nails and as skilled as anyone. From 1936 to 1944, he made nine straight first or second all-star teams (one for every full season he played with Chicago) – only Mr. Hockey, the Rocket, the Golden Jet and Doug Harvey can boast longer streaks with a single team.
6. Tony Esposito, goalie
Speaking of good rookie seasons, how about leading the league in wins, being a first-team all-star, winning the Vezina and Calder and setting a modern record with 15 shutouts? That’s what ‘Tony 0’ did in 1969-70. He won two more Vezinas and earned four more all-star berths before retiring as a Hawk in 1984.
5. Denis Savard, center
Savard didn’t score fewer than 75 points in any of his first 10 years with Chicago. He owns the four highest-scoring seasons in team history and is the franchise’s No. 3 all-time point producer. Savard was stuck behind some other pretty decent centers during the 1980s (see: Gretzky, Wayne; Lemieux, Mario) so he never received the league-wide accolades he might have, but he was one of the most exciting players of his generation.
4. Glenn Hall, goalie
Hall played 362 of his 502 consecutive games (without a mask) as a Black Hawk. During 10 seasons with Chicago, Hall won two Vezinas, the Cup in 1961 and was an eight-time all-star – five times a first-teamer. In ’61 he played every second of every game, led the league in shutouts and stymied Montreal in Round 1 of the playoffs to dash the Habs’ hopes of six consecutive Cups.
3. Pierre Pilote, defense
Pilote played 821 games with Chicago from 1955 to 1968. He won three consecutive Norris Trophies from ’63 to ’65 and was an all-star every year from 1960 to 1967, nearly matching Seibert’s mark. Pilote captained the team for seven seasons from 1961-1968.
2. Stan Mikita, center
Mikita is basically Mr. Blackhawk and really should be considered more of 1A than a No. 2 here. He’s the Hawks’ all-time leader in games played, assists and points and won the Cup in ’61. Mikita won four Art Ross Trophies, two Harts, two Lady Byngs and the Lester Patrick Trophy. An eight-time all-star he was the heart and soul of Chicago for 21 seasons.
1. Bobby Hull, left wing
‘The Golden Jet’ was the greatest goal-scorer of his day. If not for his defection to the World Hockey Association, who knows what his career numbers would look like? He’s still 16th all-time in goals scored. While with the Hawks, Hull was a three-time Art Ross winner, won back-to-back Harts in 1965 and ’66, won the Lady Byng, the Lester Patrick Trophy and was a 12-time all-star. He was a five-time 50-goal scorer and never tallied fewer than 31 as a Hawk after his second year.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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