As the Bruins gear up for their Original Six matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks, here's a look at who the Black and Gold will be facing for a shot at their second Stanley Cup in the past three seasons. Next
An Original Six club
The Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s Original Six teams, and have a storied past that includes four Stanley Cup championships and a long list of great players.
Their retired numbers include Bobby Hull, (9), Stan Mikita (21), Tony Esposito (35),Glenn Hall (1), Pierre Pilote and Keith Manugson (3), and Denis Savard (18).
Original Six teams have taken three of the seven Stanley Cups since the 2004-05 lockout, with the Red Wings winning in 2008, the Blackhawks in 2010, and the Bruins in 2011. This will be the first time that two Original Six teams meet in the finals since 1979, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers.
That year was the last of four straight Stanley Cups for the Canadiens, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976, and the Bruins in 1977 and 1978. The head coach of the Canadiens at that time was Scotty Bowman, who now serves as the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks. Next
Where they play
The Blackhawks play their home games at the United Center in downtown Chicago. Opened in August of 1994, The United Center also plays host to the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, as well as serves as a major concert venue and host of other premier events that come through the Chicago area. The arena features statues of Blackhawks greats Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita outside, as well as a statue of Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
Until 1995, the Blackhawks played their home games at Chicago Stadium. Opened in 1929, Chicago Stadium was known as the “Madhouse of Madison” due to its incredibly loud and intense crowd, regularly giving the Hawks a distinct home-ice advantage; the stadium hosted three Stanley Cup Championships for the Hawks: in 1934, 1938, and 1961. The former site of Chicago Stadium is now a parking lot across from the United Center. Next
Where they rate in Chicago sports heirarchy
The Blackhawks have gained popularity in recent years in a city that is steeped in championship tradition. The MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox battle for baseball supremacy in the Windy City, with both clubs suffering long World Series droughts until the White Sox captured the 2005 championship, their first since 1917. The Cubs haven’t won a title since 1908, the longest streak in professional sports history.
The Chicago Bears of the NFL, another incredibly popular team in the city, were one of the founding members of the NFL. Before 1970, they won eight NFL championships, and since the NFL-AFL merger, they have won one Super Bowl, in 1985 against the Patriots, and appeared in one more, a 2006 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The most successful Chicago franchise in recent history, however, is the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. After drafting future sports legend Michael Jordan in 1984 and hiring future Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, the Bulls won six NBA Championships in the 1990s, solidifying Jordan as arguably the greatest player of all time. The Bulls fell back into despair following Jordan’s departure, but have since returned to prominence thanks to 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose and other stars such as Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.
With their 2010 Stanley Cup title and their second Finals appearance in four years, the Blackhawks are a key player in a city that has at least one entry in each of the major pro sports leagues. Next
Blackhawks playoff run
The Chicago Blackhawks had an interesting ride through the Western Conference playoffs on their way to the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. Finishing the regular season as the No. 1 seed in the West, Chicago easily ousted the Minnesota Wild in the first round, 3-1, and outscored Minnesota 17-7. Minnesota’s starting goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, suffered an injury during warmups for Game 1, and the Hawks had no problem getting the puck past backup Josh Harding, who saw his first playoff action as a starter.
The Blackhawks faced some unexpected adversity in the second round against the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings. After blowing out the Wings 4-1 in the first game of the series, Detroit proceeded to take the next three games and put the top seeded Hawks on the brink of elimination. But Chicago rallied, winning the next two games to force a Game 7 at home. Brent Seabrook capitalized on a Detroit miscue to win the game, and the series, in overtime.
Chicago marched on to the Western Conference Finals vs. the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, who were looking to become the first NHL team to successfully defend the Cup since the 1997-98 Red Wings. Despite losing top defenseman Duncan Keith to a suspension for Game 4, the Hawks used their strength and speed to spoil the Kings’ chance of repeating, taking down the Kings as well as goaltender Jonathan Quick, the reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner as the 2012 playoffs MVP.
After a tight Game 5 in which the Kings tied the game with less than 10 seconds left in the third period, Patrick Kane scored 11:40 into the second overtime to send Chicago to the Finals. The Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Next
The Blackhawks finished the regular season win the best record in the NHL, totaling 77 points, 11 ahead of the second-place Anaheim Ducks in the West, and five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for best overall. Their 36-7-5 record in the lockout-shortened season gave them a winning percentage of .802, their best in team history.
Right wing Patrick Kane led the team in scoring with 55 points, while also leading the team in both goals and assists, with 23 and 32, respectively. Captain Jonathan Toews led the team in +/- with a 28. Goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery split time in net, with Crawford winning 19 out of his 30 starts, and Emery winning 17 of 21.
What may be most remembered about the Blackhawks’ 2013 season, however, was their amazing points streak to begin the season. Once the shortened 48-game season got underway Jan. 19, Chicago did not lose a game in regulation for the first half of the season, going an incredible 21-0-3. Frequent comparisons were being made between the Hawks and the NBA’s Miami Heat at that time, who were on an impressive win streak of their own. Chicago finally succumbed to the Colorado Avalanche on March 8 for their first regulation loss of the year, but at that point had pulled so far ahead of the rest of the Western Conference that it was able to cruise the second half of the season, easily winning the West and beating the field in the East as well to capture the Presidents’ Trophy for best record in the league, their first since 1991. Next
Stanley Cup History
Since their founding in 1926, the Blackhawks have won four Stanley Cup Championships. Their first came less than 10 years after their inaugural season, in 1934, when Chicago defeated the Detroit Red Wings three games to one (in a best-of-five series).
The Hawks won their second title just four years later in 1938, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs in four games.
The Blackhawks then fell into a period of overall decline, with the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Red Wings dominating the Original Six era. They achieved some success over the next couple of decades; the Hawks had some good seasons, but did not win any championships.
That changed in 1961, when a Hawks team led by Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita defeated the Red Wings in six games, bringing the Cup back to Chicago for the first time in 23 years. It would symbolize a breakthrough for the franchise and the Hawks would remain competitive for most of the next decade, making it to the Finals in four of the next 12 seasons, but couldn’t break through and grab another Cup as Hull, Mikita, and other stars slowly aged and the Hawks fell back into decline.
The Blackhawks went almost 50 years before their next Stanley Cup, but it would be a young core of players in 2010 that would give Chicago its first Cup in almost five decades. Led by electric forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and shutdown goalie Antti Niemi, the Hawks took down the surprise Philadelphia Flyers in six games to finally bring the Cup back to Chicago.
With the win, Toews became the first Blackhawks player to win the Conn Smythe award for playoff MVP (the award was first given in 1965). The final goal of the series, scored by Kane in overtime of Game 6, became a part of Blackhawks and hockey lore, as the puck became lodged in the padding of the net after crossing the line, and in the ensuing chaos of Chicago’s celebration, the puck was lost and was never recovered. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to the puck that ended the then-longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL. Next
Blackhawks with Boston connections
Blackhawks winger Jimmy Hayes grew up in Dorchester and played college hockey at Boston College, where he scored 81 points over three seasons with the Eagles, helping BC defeat Wisconsin and win the 2010 NCAA National Championship. He spent most of this past season with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, scoring 45 points in 67 games. He appeared in 10 games for Chicago this past season, tallying one goal and three assists.
Another right wing, Ben Smith, hails from Avon, Conn., and played at Boston College for four seasons. He scored 122 points for the Eagles from 2006-2010, and won two NCAA titles with BC before being drafted by the Blackhawks and playing the past few years with the IceHogs, while also recording 20 games in the NHL with Chicago.
Third-string goalie Carter Hutton played at UMass-Lowell, recording 32 wins in four seasons for the River Hawks while posting 10 shutouts. He spent one season with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL before anchoring the goal for the IceHogs the past two seasons. He played one game for the Blackhawks this past season, recording 25 saves in a 3-1 loss to the Blues.
Left wing Viktor Stalberg played in Hockey East for the University of Vermont, totaling 88 points over three seasons with the Catamounts. Right wing Patrick Sharp also played for UVM for two seasons, scoring 53 points in his college career. Center Michal Hanzus played his rookie season in the American Hockey League for the Worcester IceCats in 1996-97, tallying 63 points in 69 games for Worcester, while adding eight points in 11 playoff games that season.
Veteran winger Jamal Mayers also played for the IceCats, scoring 85 points in 143 games over three seasons with Worcester before a long career with stops with the Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, and San Jose Sharks. Next
Front office personnel
The Blackhawks’ chairman is Rocky Wirtz, whose family has owned the Blackhawks since 1954. John McDonough is the president and CEO, having been named the CEO in 2011 after serving as president since 2007, overseeing the turnaround of the Hawks franchise, including their 2010 Stanley Cup Championship.
Another big name in the front office is vice president and general manager Stan Bowman. The son of legendary coach and current Blackhawks senior advisor of hockey operations Scotty Bowman, Stan has worked for the Blackhawks for 12 seasons and was named GM in the fall of 2009.
Scotty Bowman is the NHL’s coaching wins leader with 1,244 regular season wins and 223 postseason wins. He won nine Stanley Cup championships as a head coach: five with the Montreal Canadiens, one with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and three with the Detroit Red Wings.
He also coached the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres, with his teams reaching the playoffs in 29 out of his 30 years as a head coach. He received the Jack Adams’ Award twice as the best head coach in the NHL (1977, 1996). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 as a builder of the game. Next
Coach Joel Quenneville
Head coach Joel Quenneville is coaching his fifth season with the Blackhawks. After being named head coach in October 2008, he has led the Hawks to the playoffs in all five seasons, including three trips to the Western Conference Finals, and now two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, including in 2010 the franchise’s first championship in almost 50 years.
He was also the head coach of the St. Louis Blues for eight seasons, as well for the Colorado Avalanche for three. Prior to being named head coach of the Blues, he helped the 1996 Avalanche win the Stanley Cup as an assistant coach. He played 13 seasons as an NHL defenseman, recording 190 points in 803 career games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, and Washington Capitals. Next
Corey Crawford is a three year veteran of the NHL. After taking over the starting job for the Blackhawks in the 2010-11 season, he has led the Hawks to three straight playoff appearances, losing in the first round to the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games in 2011 and to the Phoenix Coyotes in 6 games last season. This past season he posted a record of 19-5-5, with a save percentage of .926 and a goals against average of 1.94
Head coach Joel Quenneville did, in fact, have a very difficult decision to make heading into the playoffs though. Despite Crawford starting most of the season, his backup, Ray Emery, had an incredible season as well. Playing 21 games for the Hawks, Emery went 17-1, also recording a GAA of 1.94 on top of a save percentage of .922, just .004 below Crawford’s.
Quenneville went with Crawford, and the decision has so far proved to be the right one, as Crawford has gone 7-1 in his past eight starts, and has put the Blackhawks back into the Stanley Cup Finals. Next
Jonathan Toews was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2006, and has since become a consistent force for Chicago. A three-time NHL All-star, Toews has also captained the Blackhawks since 2008-09.
After winning a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Toews led Chicago to its first Stanley Cup Championship in 49 years, and became the first Blackhawks player to win the Conn Smythe trophy as the NHL playoffs MVP.
This season, he recorded 47 points in 48 games, second on the team behind Patrick Kane. During this playoff run, Toews had been somewhat stifled, recording only six points in the first two rounds against Minnesota and Detroit, but came alive in the conference finals, notching three assists in five games against Los Angeles. Next
Patrick Sharp had a relatively quiet regular season, scoring only 20 points, but has come alive during the playoffs, with 11 points in the first two rounds before tallying three more in the conference finals. The veteran left wing spent two years with the Philadelphia Flyers before joining the Blackhawks in 2005-06, where he has become a true star, and a major force on the Blackhawks 2010 club that won the Stanley Cup.
He was named the 2011 All-Star game MVP after registering a goal and two assists and is tied for the team lead in points during the playoffs with 14, and Sharp looks to continue to perform at the highest level as Chicago marches on to the Finals. Next
Right wing Marian Hossa had to wait a long time to finally lift the Stanley Cup, including two straight years where he was on the losing side. (He lost the Cup to Detroit while with Pittsburgh in 2008, only to join the Red Wings the next season, in which they then lost the Finals to the Penguins).
But Hossa finally won the coveted and elusive trophy in 2010 with the Blackhawks, and would like nothing more than to raise Lord Stanley’s mug for the second time in four years. The five-time NHL All-Star scored 31 points in the regular season, and has been leading the team in scoring in their Finals run, tied with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane with 14 points in these playoffs. Next
Center Michal Handzus was acquired halfway through the season from the San Jose Sharks, and in 11 regular season games with the Blackhawks scored six points, while tallying nine points already in the first three rounds of the 2013 playoffs.
With more than 70 games of playoff experience on his resume, Handsuz looks ready to finally win the Stanley Cup in a career that has seen him come very close, but no cigar. As a member of the Swedish National Team in 2002, he won a world championship, along with two silver medals, one in 2000 and another in 2012. Next
Right wing Patrick Kane is one of the most energetic and talented players on the Blackhawks. After leading the team with 55 points during the regular season, he looks to add to his already impressive resume in his short NHL career.
The 24-year-old has played six NHL seasons and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2008 as the NHL Rookie of the Year, has played in three All-Star games, won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and is a Stanley Cup champion.
Kane’s overtime Cup-winning goal in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers has become a legend in Chicago and hockey circles due to the mysterious disappearance of the series-winning puck. His latest domination includes a hat trick in Game 5 of the conference finals against the Kings, including the series-winning goal in double overtime. Next
Bryan Bickell, playing in his third full season in the NHL, is quickly becoming regarding as a top left wing on this dangerous Blackhawks team. Tallying 90 points in his first three seasons, including 23 in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, Bickell looks to take advantage of his first shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Bickell is surprising many with his breakout 2013 playoffs, and he is one off of the team lead in points with 13. The 27-year-old is from Bowmanville, Ontario. Next
Duncan Keith has been an anchor of the Blackhawks defense since becoming a starter for Chicago in 2005-06. He was named an alternate captain in October 2008, and solidified the Chicago blue line on its way to the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Keith has played in two All-Star Games, won an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2010, and has won the James Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. One recent blemish on his record was the one-game suspension he received for Game 4 of this year’s Western Conference Finals, after a Game 3 incident in which he intentionally raised his stick and struck Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter in the face, but Keith came back with a goal in the series-clinching Game 5. Next
Michael Frolik played 45 games this season with the Hawks, scoring 10 points on 3 goals and 7 assists. Frolik was a two-and-a-half-year veteran with the Florida Panthers before joining the Hawks midway through the 2010-11 season.
He has scored six points in the playoffs so far for Chicago, and his on-ice sense has led to many opportunities for the Blackhawks to put up big numbers. He has scored 151 points in his five NHL seasons, including back-to-back 40-plus point seasons for Florida in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Next
Defenseman Johnny Oduya is a bruising blue liner who spent three full seasons with the New Jersey Devils before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for prolific scorer Ilya Kovalchuck. He spent the next few seasons in Atlanta, moving with the team to Winnipeg last season before being traded to the Blackhawks in February 2012.
Oduya had 12 points this season, but has been putting up better stats than just those that appear on the score sheet, including a +/- of 9 this postseason. He has two goals and three assists in the playoffs. Next
How to Follow the Blackhawks
The Blackhawks official twitter handle is @NHLBlackhawks. More Blackhawks coverage can be found on Hawks Insider at @hawks_insider, as well as ESPN Chicago’s Blackhawks twitter account at @ESPNChiHawks.
Mark Lazerus is the Blackhawks beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, and has the Hawks fully covered on their Stanley Cup run. His twitter handle is @MarkLazerus.
Chris Kuc is a Hockey beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, another knowledgeable writer. He can be followed at @ChrisKuc.
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