This was not supposed to happen, the salary cap was brought in to eliminate teams from winning championships in bunches and make the NHL more even all around when teams were headed in that direction. But here we are, 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years and the Chicago Blackhawks are officially a dynasty. Lead by 27-year old Captain Jonathan Toews the Hawks captured their 3rd Stanley Cup since 2010, the first of the 3 won on home ice at the United Center. This was particularly more special to the city of Chicago and its fans as the Blackhawks hadn't won on home ice since 1938. In this next installment of the Forman Files, I will provide an in-depth look at the Chicago Blackhawks and the many factors that I believe makes them a dynasty:
2015 Stanley Cup Champions:
Round 1: Chicago Blackhawks defeat Nashville Predators 4-2: http://www.nhl.com/ice/series.htm?season=20142015&series=f
Round 2: Chicago Blackhawks defeat Minnesota Wild 4-0: http://www.nhl.com/ice/series.htm?season=20142015&series=k
Round 3: Chicago Blackhawks defeat Anaheim Ducks 4-3: http://www.nhl.com/ice/series.htm?season=20142015&series=n
Round 4: Chicago Blackhawks defeat Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2: http://www.nhl.com/ice/series.htm?season=20142015&series=o
Forwards & Defensemen
3-Time Stanley Cup Winners - Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Bryan Bickell, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
2-Time Stanley Cup Winners - Brad Richards (1 with Tampa Bay, 1 with Chicago), Corey Crawford, Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger
First Time Stanley Cup Winners - Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Desjardins, Kyle Cumiskey, David Runblad, Joakim Nordstrom, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Scott Darling
|2015 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner Duncan Keith|
Serge Savard - Montreal Canadiens - 1969
Bobby Orr - Boston Bruins - 1970, 1972
Larry Robinson - Montreal Canadiens - 1978
Al MacInnis - Calgary Flames - 1989
Brian Leetch - New York Rangers - 1994
Scott Stevens - New Jersey Devils - 2000
Nicklas Lidstrom - Detroit Red Wings - 2002
Scott Niedermayer - Anaheim Ducks - 2007
Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks - 2015
When you look at the Chicago Blackhawks the obvious names that come to mind are Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, perhaps the best duo in the NHL right now and when its all said and done might be one of the best duos in NHL history. Often overlooked in Chicago is the amount of depth they have, whether its the best players or the role guys the Hawks play a 4-line game. What separates the Hawks from most teams in the NHL is the amount of elite players that they have that are willing to step up in big moments, and that's what Championship teams have. That's why its so important to understand truly how good the Hawks core 6 players are, the guys that have remained with the team while they made changes after the 2010 and 2013 Championship teams. Said Joel Quenneville of his core, "The core that's been here since 2010, they lead the charge game-in, game-out, preparation-wise, focus, attention to detail, play the right way, send the right message. It's a fun group to work with." Lets take an in-depth look at the Chicago Blackhawks core of forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, defenseman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook:
Jonathan Toews - The Hawks Captain has one of the most impressive resumes in NHL history and he's only been in the league for 8 seasons. He has Captained the Blackhawks to 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years (2010, 2013, 2015), won 2 Olympic Gold Medals (Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014), won 1 World Hockey Championship Gold Medal (Russia 2007) and won 2 World Junior Gold Medals (Canada 2006, Sweden 2007) and he just turned 27 in April. There might not be a more complete player in the NHL than Jonathan Toews, solid at both ends of the ice and really the face of consistency in the modern-day NHL. He might not be the most skilled player in the NHL or the best goal scorer, but he just has a special demeanor that few players are able to match. This is what makes him a one-of-a-kind player and the best Captain in the NHL.
There is a reason he is called "Captain Serious", he is never satisfied and always expects more from himself and from his team. When his team needs someone to step up, the Captain is there for the Hawks, he seems to thrive in big-game situations. Toews is be the poster child of what an NHL Captain should be, a type of player that leads on and off the ice and has that passion to win. On the ice he plays in all situations, including being one of the best at faceoffs in the NHL. Toews has a tremendous knack for the net and isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals, it doesn't always have to be pretty and Toews seems to score those goals that leave you saying how? (ex. game 5 against Anaheim). Toews is also a strong skater with excellent vision and hockey IQ, he is so good at making the right play at the right time. Defensively he plays against the best Centers in the NHL, at even strength and on the PK. There is no question in my opinion that Toews is the best Captain in the NHL, someone for young hockey players to look up to and aspire to be like. Simply put if your looking for the player who wants to win and will deliver look no further than #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points, -1, 3 GWG, Conn Smythe Trophy
2013: 23 GP - 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points, +9
2015: 23 GP - 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points, +7
Patrick Kane - There is a reason Patrick Kane has the nickname "Showtime", he seems to thrive in the spotlight and always seems to score clutch goals. Take last night for example, Hawks were clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the 3rd and the man who hadn't scored all series scores the goal that clinched the Cup for the Hawks. There are so many reasons to like Patrick Kane as a player besides his drive to be in the spotlight, simply put he is one of if not the most talented players in the NHL today. He has a knack for scoring big goals, his 4 playoff OT goals in 8 seasons will tell you that:
|8 - JOE SAKIC, COLORADO|
|6 - MAURICE RICHARD, MONTREAL|
|5 - GLENN ANDERSON, EDMONTON, TORONTO, NY RANGERS, ST. LOUIS|
|4 - BOB NYSTROM, NY ISLANDERS|
|4 - DALE HUNTER, QUEBEC, WASHINGTON|
|4 - WAYNE GRETZKY, EDMONTON, LOS ANGELES|
|4 - STEPHANE RICHER, MONTREAL, NEW JERSEY|
|4 - JOE MURPHY, EDMONTON, CHICAGO|
|4 - ESA TIKKANEN, EDMONTON, NY RANGERS|
|4 - JAROMIR JAGR, PITTSBURGH|
|4 - KIRK MULLER, MONTREAL, DALLAS|
|4 - JEREMY ROENICK, CHICAGO, PHILADELPHIA|
|4 - CHRIS DRURY, COLORADO, CALGARY, BUFFALO, NY RANGERS|
|4 - JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER, DALLAS NEW JERSEY|
4 - PATRICK KANE, CHICAGO
Even more incredible about Kane's performance this postseason was the fact that almost 4 months ago he broke his collarbone. He broke it on February 24th in a game against the Florida Panthers and was originally supposed to be out until the end of May, but there was #88 back on the ice for Game #1 (April 15th) of the Stanley Cup Playoffs less than 2 months after the injury. Kane would go on to pick up 2 assists in that 1st game back, and 23 points the rest of the way to lead the playoffs in points. The fact that the Hawks were able to be successful without Kane was impressive on its own, if he had been out longer who knows if they are still Stanley Cup Champions. The crazier part is the level of play he was able to reach so quickly from a significant injury, he seemed to not miss a beat from his 1st shift back in the Predators series. Kane was a force the entire playoffs and a big reason the Hawks are Stanley Cup Champions once again.
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 10 goals, 18 assists, 28 points, -2, 3 GWG
2013: 23 GP - 9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points, +7. 2 GWG, Conn Smythe Trophy
2015: 23 GP - 11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points, +7, 3 GWG
Marian Hossa - The signing of Marian Hossa on July 1st, 2009 might have been the catalyst move of the dynasty in Chicago. The Blackhawks were an up-and-coming team in 2009 and made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Detroit Red Wings in 5 games. Who was on that Red Wings team? Marian Hossa. At the time the Red Wings had made their 2nd straight Stanley Cup Finals, they had won in 2008 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Who was on that Penguins team? Marian Hossa. He seemed almost cursed that he couldn't win. He left Pittsburgh after 2008 to go to the team that beat them in the finals the Detroit Red Wings only to lose to his former team the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals! When Hossa signed in Chicago you sensed something special was brewing, he had that taste for victory but never really found his place on Pittsburgh or Detroit. With an up-and-coming Blackhawks team Hossa might finally get his chance to win the Stanley Cup, and that's exactly what happened.
From day 1 in Chicago Marian Hossa found his place, and as he put it last night, "I signed here hoping for 1. In 6 years, I've got 3. I'm so thankful." Hossa has had a lengthy NHL career at age 36, having played 16 NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. He has 486 goals, 570 assists for 1,056 points in 1,172 regular season games, add another 49 goals, 95 assists for 144 points in 195 playoff games. At age 36 Hossa still possesses that elite skating that has made him so effective all these years, and as long as he keeps his conditioning up he has shown no signs of slowing down at the moment. He has also been a big mentor to both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from day 1. Hossa has been an instrumental player for the Blackhawks since the day he signed with the team, and hes a hall of famer in my books. He has been to 5 Stanley Cup Finals in the last 8 years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015), including 3 straight Stanley Cup Appearances on 3 different teams (Penguins 2008, Red Wings 2009, Blackhawks 2010) and is the only person in NHL history to do so. Here is an article from NHL.com about Hossa's case for the Hockey Hall of Fame after this 3rd Stanley Cup: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=770983
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points, +7, 1 GWG
2013: 22 GP - 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points, +8, 2 GWG
2015: 23 GP - 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points, +7, 2 GWG
He is often overlooked in Chicago behind guys like Toews, Kane, Hossa etc but he is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Sharp is a strong two-way player that has an excellent release and can score from all places on the ice. Sharp has been on right wing with Jonathan Toews most of his time with the Blackhawks, the 2 players have fantastic chemistry. Sharp has also been a crucial part of the Blackhawks powerplay during the 3 Championship runs, he often plays the Point and runs the play with Duncan Keith. While Sharp is likely the 1st member of this current core to leave the Blackhawks, I can't see him leaving anytime soon despite all the rumours of him being traded. At age 33 he still has a lot of good hockey left for the Blackhawks.
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 11 goals, 11 assists, 22 points, +10, 1 GWG
2013: 23 GP - 10 goals, 6 assists, 16 points, +1, 2 GWG
2015: 23 GP - 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, +2
Duncan Keith - If you think about consistency among defenseman in the NHL, one of the first names that always comes to mind is Duncan Keith. The 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner was nothing short of brilliant in the playoffs, an absolute force every time he took the ice. The Hawks played most of 2 rounds with 4 defenseman, Keith frequently played at least 30 minutes a game and was double shifted often. He logged an incredible 715:37 of icetime in the playoffs, the 4th most in NHL history (see below). While he scored only 3 goals in 23 games, all 3 of those goals happened to be game-winning goals. He scored the OT winner in game 1 of the playoffs for the Predators, scored the series-winning goal in game 6 against the Predators, and scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in game 6 against the Lightning. He picked up a playoff-leading 18 assists (tied with Ryan Getzlaf) and has 44 assists in the 3 Stanley Cup runs.
Keith has 2 Olympic Gold Medals with teammate Jonathan Toews (Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014) as well as 2 Norris Trophies (2010, 2014).Often overlooked in how good Keith has been was that he was only a 2nd round pick! He was picked 54th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2002 draft, meaning that 53 players were picked ahead of Keith before he was finally taken. The Blackhawks even had a 1st round pick (21st overall) and took Anton Babchuk before they took Keith, and he only lasted on the Hawks for 22 games. Of the 53 players taken before Duncan Keith in the 2002 draft, only 5 of them have won Stanley Cups. Those players are: 20th overall Dan Paille (Stanley Cup in 2011 with Boston), 23rd overall Ben Eager (Stanley Cup in 2010 with Chicago), 25th overall Cam Ward (Stanley Cup in 2006 with Carolina), 36th overall Jarret Stoll (Stanley Cup in 2012/2014 with Los Angeles) and 44th overall Matt Greene (Stanley Cup in 2012/2014 with Los Angeles). Here is a look at that 2002 draft where the Hawks stole Keith and changed the future of their defense for years:
|Round||Pick #||Team||Player||Position||Drafted From|
|1||1||Columbus||Rick Nash||L||London Knights [OHL]|
|1||2||Atlanta||Kari Lehtonen||G||Jokerit Helsinki [SM-liiga]|
|1||3||Florida||Jay Bouwmeester||D||Medicine Hat Tigers [WHL]|
|1||4||Philadelphia||Joni Pitkanen||D||Karpat [SM-liiga]|
|1||5||Pittsburgh||Ryan Whitney||D||Boston University [H-East]|
|1||6||Nashville||Scottie Upshall||L||Kamloops Blazers [WHL]|
|1||7||Anaheim||Joffrey Lupul||L||Medicine Hat Tigers [WHL]|
|1||8||Minnesota||Pierre-Marc Bouchard||C||Chicoutimi Sagueneens [QMJHL]|
|1||9||Florida||Petr Taticek||C||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds [OHL]|
|1||10||Calgary||Eric Nystrom||L||U. of Michigan [CCHA]|
|1||11||Buffalo||Keith Ballard||D||U. of Minnesota [WCHA]|
|1||12||Washington||Steve Eminger||D||Kitchener Rangers [OHL]|
|1||13||Washington||Alexander Semin||R||Cherepovets Jr. (Russia)|
|1||14||Montreal||Chris Higgins||L||Yale University [ECAC]|
|1||15||Edmonton||Jesse Niinimaki||C||Ilves Tampere [SM-liiga]|
|1||16||Ottawa||Jakub Klepis||C||Portland Winter Hawks [WHL]|
|1||17||Washington||Boyd Gordon||C||Red Deer Rebels [WHL]|
|1||18||Los Angeles||Denis Grebeshkov||D||Yaroslavl Lokomotiv [Russia]|
|1||19||Phoenix||Jakub Koreis||C||Plzen HC [Czech]|
|1||20||Buffalo||Daniel Paille||L||Guelph Storm [OHL]|
|1||21||Chicago||Anton Babchuk||D||Elemash Elektrostal (Russia)|
|1||22||NY Islanders||Sean Bergenheim||L||Jokerit Helsinki [SM-liiga]|
|1||23||Phoenix||Ben Eager||L||Oshawa Generals [OHL]|
|1||24||Toronto||Alexander Steen||L||Vastra Frolunda HC [SEL]|
|1||25||Carolina||Cam Ward||G||Red Deer Rebels [WHL]|
|1||26||Dallas||Martin Vagner||D||Hull Olympiques [QMJHL]|
|1||27||San Jose||Mike Morris||F||St. Sebastian's [Mass. H.S.]|
|1||28||Colorado||Jonas Johansson||R||HV71 Jonkoping [SEL]|
|1||29||Boston||Hannu Toivonen||G||HPK Hameenlinna [SM-liiga]|
|1||30||Atlanta||Jim Slater||C||Michigan State University [CCHA]|
|2||31||Edmonton||Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers||G||Chicoutimi Sagueneens [QMJHL]|
|2||32||Dallas||Janos Vas||L||Malmo Jrs [Sweden]|
|2||33||NY Rangers||Lee Falardeau||C||Michigan State University [CCHA]|
|2||34||Dallas||Tobias Stephan||G||Chur EHC [Swiss-A]|
|2||35||Pittsburgh||Ondrej Nemec||D||Vsetin HC [Czech]|
|2||36||Edmonton||Jarret Stoll||C||Kootenay Ice [WHL]|
|2||37||Anaheim||Tim Brent||C||Toronto St. Michael's Majors [OHL]|
|2||38||Minnesota||Josh Harding||G||Regina Pats [WHL]|
|2||39||Calgary||Brian McConnell||F||Boston University [H-East]|
|2||40||Florida||Rob Globke||R||Notre Dame [CCHA]|
|2||41||Columbus||Joakim Lindstrom||C||MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik [SEL]|
|2||42||Dallas||Marius Holtet||R||Farjestad Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2||43||Dallas||Trevor Daley||D||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds [OHL]|
|2||44||Edmonton||Matt Greene||D||Green Bay Gamblers [USHL]|
|2||45||Montreal||Tomas Linhart||D||Pardubice Jr. (Czech)|
|2||46||Phoenix||David LeNeveu||G||Cornell University [ECAC]|
|2||47||Ottawa||Alexei Kaigorodov||C||Magnitogorsk Metallurg [Russia]|
|2||48||St. Louis||Alexei Shkotov||C||Elemash Elektrostal (Russia)|
|2||49||Vancouver||Kirill Koltsov||D||Omsk Avangard [Russia]|
|2||50||Los Angeles||Sergei Anshakov||L||HC CSKA (Russian Jr.)|
|2||51||New Jersey||Anton Kadeykin||D||Elemash Elektrostal (Russia)|
|2||52||San Jose||Dan Spang||D||Winchester H.S. (Mass.)|
|2||53||New Jersey||Barry Tallackson||R||U. of Minnesota [WCHA]|
|2||54||Chicago||Duncan Keith||D||Michigan State University [CCHA]|
He debuted with the Blackhawks in the 2005/2006 season and has played 766 games in his career with 75 goals, 340 assists for 415 points. Add in another 15 goals, 60 assists for 75 points in 116 playoff games. His best year came during the 2009/2010 season where he scored a career-high 14 goals and added 55 assists for 69 points en route to his 1st Norris Trophy. The Blackawks went on to win the Stanley Cup that season with Keith picking up 17 more points in the playoffs. At the time Keith was developing into an elite defenseman and the Hawks were becoming a strong young team, and that Stanley Cup was just the start of something special in Chicago.
Keith is one of the best two-way defenseman in the NHL, and it all starts with his tremendous skating ability. Keith can be up in the play and back on defense in a flash, something that Bobby Orr made a living doing. He has elite puck vision and is a tremendous passer, the Hawks are one of the best possession teams in the NHL and it starts with their breakout. Keith is excellent at the 1st or "breakout" pass, the pass that gets the rush going and if successful creates offensive zone time. He is also a great defensive-defenseman when he needs to be, which is what makes him so effective that he can transition from offense to defense so smoothly. Keith is not afraid to lay his body out or block a shot, and he's a tireless defender that plays against the best players on every team. He possesses a particularly quick stick on defense that makes him very unique, he breaks up a lot of plays and shots where he is one step quicker than the forward. His hockey IQ is tremendous and he is one of (if not the) hardest working players in the NHL. Duncan Keith is a big part of the Blackhawks core and a huge reason they are Stanley Cup Champions in 2015.
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 2 goals, 15 assists, 17 points, +2
2013: 22 GP - 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, +10
2015: 23 GP - 3 goals, 18 assists, 21 points, +16, 3 GWG, Conn Smythe Trophy
Brent Seabrook - Alongside Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith all these years has been the tough, thick-bearded #7 Brent Seabrook. While he might not be the most talented defenseman in the NHL, Seabrook is a fierce competitor and one of those guys that seems to come alive in the playoffs. He was a huge part of the Stanley Cup run this year with 7 goals in the playoffs including a Triple OT winner in Game 4 of the Nashville series. He now has 3 OT goals in the playoffs in his career; Round 2 Detroit Red Wings (Game 7, 2013), Stanley Cup Finals vs. Boston Bruins (Game 4, 2013), Round 1 Nashville Predators (Game 4, 2015). The OT winner in Game 7 against Detroit sent the Blackhawks on their way to the Stanley Cup in 2013, that was one of the biggest goals scored during these 3 Stanley Cup runs.
Seabrook was drafted 14th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL Draft and made his debut 2 years later during the 2005/2006 season. Alongside Duncan Keith the defensive pair are the longest serving Blackhawks, as Seabrook has played 763 games in 10 seasons. He has 71 goals, 247 assists for 318 points and another 19 goals, 38 assists for 57 points in 112 playoff games. The 6'3 218 pound defenseman is one of the best defensive-defenseman in the NHL. He is a tremendous shot blocker and has a history of laying out bone-crushing hits. Seabrook plays with Keith against the top lines of opponents on a nightly basis, and he is often overlooked playing along side Duncan. Seabrook also has a wicked slap shot including a particularly quick and effective one-timer. While he is probably the least talented skill-wise in the Blackhawks core 6, he is extremely valuable to the future of this team. Seabrook has been a big part of all 3 Stanley Cup runs and will continue to be a great player for years to come.
Stanley Cup Champions Stats Comparison:
2010: 22 GP - 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, +8
2013: 23 GP - 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points, -1, 2 GWG
2015: 23 GP - 7 goals, 4 assists, 11 points, +5, 1 GWG
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane - Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. Welcome to the party Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the best duo in the NHL right now and getting close to being one of the best of all time. Its hard to compare Toews and Kane (both 27 this year) to the 2 legendary duos mentioned above, but 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years allows them to be mentioned in the same conversation at least. When you look at these dynamic duos you have to have 2 players who are elite skill-wise on their own, but when playing together they form a special connection. Toews and Kane have that chemisty, both on and off the ice. That is evident from Joel Quenneville frequently putting Kane on and off Toews line, he usually puts Kane with Toews when he wants a spark or a big goal.
This was the case in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the Blackhawks were struggling down 3-0 and needed to shake things up. Quenneville reunited Kane and Toews and the line would score 2 goals in the finals 2 minutes to tie the game. The Ducks would win the game in OT, but the Blackhawks had found their scoring touch again and Coach Q kept Kane and Toews together. Kane would pick up a goal and an assist in game 6, a 5-2 win by the Hawks at home to force game 7 in Anaheim. With Kane and Toews still together, the dynamic duo would deliver big-time in game 7 as Toews scored 2 goals and Kane picked up 3 assists in a 5-3 win. When their season was on the line the duo picked up 3 goals and 4 assists in 2 games to lead the Hawks to the Stanley Cup, and the rest is history.
My Rankings of Best Duos in the NHL Today:
1. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane - Chicago
2. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry - Anaheim
3. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - Pittsburgh
4. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn - Dallas
5. Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook - There may be more skilled and talented defenseman in the NHL, but in terms of production and consistency the best defensive pair in the NHL is Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. I remember watching the Hawks in the 2009 playoffs, I liked the way they played especially on defense. I was familiar with Brent Seabrook from the 2005 World Junior Dream Team and always liked the way he played. However, I really didn't know much about Duncan Keith other then that the two were becoming one of the best shutdown pairs in the NHL. The Blackhawks ended up losing to the Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals in 5 games, but you could sense it was the start of something special. Both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook had breakout seasons that year; Keith had (at the time) a career-high 44 points and was a career-high +33, while Seabrook chipped in 28 points and another 12 in the playoffs. The pair was noted for exceptional play in the playoffs as a shutdown pair playing against the best players on each team (Iginla in Round 1, Sedins in Round 2, Datsyuk and Zetterberg in Round 3), something that would stay consistent for years to come.
The following season the pair was named to Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Alongside Captain Jonathan Toews, the defensive pair went on to win Gold at the Olympics. Duncan Keith would go on to have a career-high 69 points en route to the Norris Trophy as top defenseman in the NHL. They would continue their success in the playoffs with 17 points from Keith and 11 from Seabrook en route to the Stanley Cup. In 1 year the defensive pair went from being someone to look out for in the future to the best defensive pair in the NHL. Keith and Seabrook log major minutes every night, and they play against team's best players in doing so. While both players are exceptional players I don't think anyone saw them becoming this good that fast, and its something that has fueled Keith and Seabrook as being underrated. Flash forward to 2015 and the pair has won 6 Stanley Cups combined, a model of consistency of what your #1 defensive pair should be like in the NHL today.
Brandon Saad - The future is bright for #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks Brandon Saad, aka the "Man Child." Saad has 2 Stanley Cups at the age of 22 (23 in October) and took big strides this year in becoming a top 6 player for the Hawks. He had 23 goals, 29 assists for 52 points in 82 games this season, all career-highs. He chipped in another 8 goals, 3 assists for 11 points in 23 games in the playoffs. What was special about this win for Saad was the comments GM Stan Bowman made about him in regards to his future with the Blackhawks as an RFA "I just talked to him right after we won, gave him a hug and I said: 'We're going to win many together.' He gave me a big hug and said, 'Let's go!' No, hes going to be here. I don't think he would want to leave after this scene here." To hear that trust from the Hawks GM is big for the 22-year old Saad, especially from such a smart GM in Stan Bowman.
He has a strong combination of size and skill, a player who plays all 200 feet of the ice and the type of player that every team could use. Hard to think that it was only 4 years ago when he slipped to the Hawks in the 2nd round, 43rd overall in the 2011 NHL draft. Interesting to note that not one of the 42 players picked ahead of Saad in the 2011 NHL Draft has played in a Stanley Cup Finals game and Saad has 2 Stanley Cups in 3 seasons. Saad will be an important part of the Blackhawks future, as a current RFA he will be priority #1 for the Blackhawks this offseason. Here's a look at that 2011 NHL draft and the picks before Saad:
|Round||Pick #||Team||Player||Position||Drafted From|
|1||1||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||C||Red Deer Rebels [WHL]|
|1||2||Colorado||Gabriel Landeskog||L||Kitchener Rangers [OHL]|
|1||3||Florida||Jonathan Huberdeau||L||Saint John Sea Dogs [QMJHL]|
|1||4||New Jersey||Adam Larsson||D||Skelleftea AIK [SEL]|
|1||5||NY Islanders||Ryan Strome||C||Niagara IceDogs [OHL]|
|1||6||Ottawa||Mika Zibanejad||C||Djurgardens IF Stockholm [SEL]|
|1||7||Winnipeg||Mark Scheifele||C||Barrie Colts [OHL]|
|1||8||Philadelphia||Sean Couturier||C||Drummondville Voltigeurs [QMJHL]|
|1||9||Boston||Dougie Hamilton||D||Niagara IceDogs [OHL]|
|1||10||Minnesota||Jonas Brodin||D||Farjestads BK Karlstad [SEL]|
|1||11||Colorado||Duncan Siemens||D||Saskatoon Blades [WHL]|
|1||12||Carolina||Ryan Murphy||D||Kitchener Rangers [OHL]|
|1||13||Calgary||Sven Baertschi||L||Portland Winterhawks [WHL]|
|1||14||Dallas||Jamie Oleksiak||D||Northeastern University [H-East]|
|1||15||NY Rangers||J.T. Miller||C||U.S. National Development Team [USHL]|
|1||16||Buffalo||Joel Armia||F||Assat Pori [SM-liiga]|
|1||17||Montreal||Nathan Beaulieu||D||Saint John Sea Dogs [QMJHL]|
|1||18||Chicago||Mark McNeill||C||Prince Albert Raiders [WHL]|
|1||19||Edmonton||Oscar Klefbom||D||Farjestads BK Karlstad [SEL]|
|1||20||Phoenix||Connor Murphy||D||U.S. National Development Team [USHL]|
|1||21||Ottawa||Stefan Noesen||R||Plymouth Whalers [OHL]|
|1||22||Toronto||Tyler Biggs||R||U.S. National Development Team [USHL]|
|1||23||Pittsburgh||Joe Morrow||D||Portland Winterhawks [WHL]|
|1||24||Ottawa||Matt Puempel||L||Peterborough Petes [OHL]|
|1||25||Toronto||Stuart Percy||D||Mississauga St. Michael's Majors [OHL]|
|1||26||Chicago||Phillip Danault||C||Victoriaville Tigres [QMJHL]|
|1||27||Tampa Bay||Vladislav Namestnikov||C||London Knights [OHL]|
|1||28||Minnesota||Zack Phillips||C||Saint John Sea Dogs [QMJHL]|
|1||29||Vancouver||Nicklas Jensen||R||Oshawa Generals [OHL]|
|1||30||Anaheim||Rickard Rakell||C||Plymouth Whalers [OHL]|
|2||31||Edmonton||David Musil||D||Vancouver Giants [WHL]|
|2||32||St. Louis||Ty Rattie||R||Portland Winterhawks [WHL]|
|2||33||Florida||Rocco Grimaldi||C||U.S. National Development Team [USHL]|
|2||34||NY Islanders||Scott Mayfield||D||Youngstown Phantoms [USHL]|
|2||35||Detroit||Tomas Jurco||R||Saint John Sea Dogs [QMJHL]|
|2||36||Chicago||Adam Clendening||D||Boston University [H-East]|
|2||37||Columbus||Boone Jenner||C||Oshawa Generals [OHL]|
|2||38||Nashville||Magnus Hellberg||G||Almtuna IS [Swe-1]|
|2||39||Anaheim||John Gibson||G||U.S. National Development Team [USHL]|
|2||40||Boston||Alexander Khokhlachev||C||Windsor Spitfires [OHL]|
|2||41||St. Louis||Dmitrij Jaskin||L||Slavia Praha HC [Czech]|
|2||42||Carolina||Victor Rask||C||Leksands IF [Swe-1]|
|2||43||Chicago||Brandon Saad||L||Saginaw Spirit [OHL]|
Andrew Shaw - Much like Dave Bolland on the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup teams, Andrew Shaw was a pivotal role player for the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Crazy to think that 138 players were picked ahead of 5'10 180 pound Andrew Shaw in the 2011 draft. In that same 2011 NHL draft where 3 rounds earlier the Hawks had selected Brandon Saad, the Hawks took Andrew Shaw 5th round 139th overall. Shaw was up and down from the AHL in his first year with the Hawks but following the lockout in 2012 Shaw made the team in 2013 and didn't look back. He has 56 goals, 47 assists for 103 points in 244 games and another 12 goals, 17 assists for 19 points in 61 playoff games.
Part of the reason the Hawks were so easy in getting rid of Dave Bolland, winner of 2 Stanley Cups and scored the Cup winner in 2013, was the fact that Shaw had progressed so quickly. Whether its scoring big goals, throwing his body around or just causing havoc in front of the net, Shaw is an impact player who knows how to get under opponents skin. He was very strong during the playoffs this year, playing on a line with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins they were particularly strong in the finals. Shaw has one more year left on his current deal and he will surely get a nice pay raise, he is a valuable member of the Hawks future.
Brad Richards - 11 years must have felt like an eternity for the 35-year old Richards, you could see the joy in his face as he lifted Lord Stanley for the 2nd time in his career. This time it was with the Blackhawks against the Lightning, the team he won it with in 2004 where he was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. I remember the day that the Hawks signed Richards (July 1st, 2014), immediately in my head I thought of Richards playing with Patrick Kane and reviving his career. Richards lost in the finals with the Rangers last season and struggled at times in the playoffs, part of the reason the Rangers moved on from #91.
However from day 1 the Hawks weren't interested in what Richards had done the past few years, it was what Richards had done in 2004 scoring 7 game-winning goals in the playoffs and leading the Lightning to their 1st ever Stanley Cup that intrigued Stan Bowman and co. Joel Quenneville knew what type of player he was getting, he knew that despite being 35 Richards still has a lot of good hockey left. Richards had the trust of Joel Quenneville, and that was a big reason he decided to choose Chicago. Richards spoke about his decision last summer and what his Head Coach told him,
"The last thing Joel said when I hung up was, 'Come to Chicago, we'll win a Cup.' He said it like three times in that conversation. He kept interrupting me, kept sying that, and I kept hearing that, thinking, 'How does he know that?' I don't know how he knew, but he knew we had a chance and here we are."
Richards had been through a lot of ups and downs in his career, and a chance to play for the Blackhawks completely revitalized his career. He struggled at times in the regular season finding consistency, but he started to develop chemistry with Patrick Kane before his shoulder injury. He started the playoffs slow with just 1 goal and 3 assists in the first 2 rounds, but he heated up big-time picking up points in 6 of the 7 games in the Ducks series. He finished the playoffs with 3 goals and 11 assists for 14 points, good for 6th on the team in points. He made his biggest impact of the season last night in game 6, starting the play that lead to the Duncan Keith Stanley Cup-winning goal and setting up Kane for the dagger. It was the pass to Patrick Kane that I had envisioned in my mind when the Hawks signed him, I knew Richards was due for something big with Kane and he devilered. Just watch how nice the no-look pass was: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5C2cDBksts. Whether Richards stays in Chicago or not he has revived his career with this Stanley Cup win.
Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson - While Keith and Seabrook are the anchor of the Blackhawks defensive unit, Oduya and Hjalmarsson have been nothing but consistent since being put together in the 2012 season. Hjalmarsson was a member of all 3 Stanley Cup teams, Oduya was traded to the Hawks in 2012 and was on the 2013 and 2015 teams. The Swedish defensive-pair is one of the best shutdown pairs in the NHL, both are excellent skaters and shot blockers. Part of what makes the Hawks so good is the compliment that Oduya and Hjalmarsson bring to Keith and Seabrook. While Oduya and Hjalmarsson aren't nearly as offensive as the first pair, they often play against teams top forwards and are a mainstay on the Hawks PK. When Michal Rozsival went down after round 2, the Hawks essentially went to a 4-man D rotation and Oduya/Hjalmarsson were called upon heavily to pick up minutes and production. While they aren't close to being the most talented players on the Hawks, these 2 defenseman are a big reason why the Hawks are Stanley Cup Champions.
The playoffs started very poorly for Corey Crawford, 9 goals against in 4 periods and suddenly the Hawks starting goalie was sitting on the bench in favour of backup Scott Darling. Darling would succumb to the pressure and get pulled in game 6 for Crawford, who would take the net back and never looked back. Crawford lead the Hawks to the Stanley Cup for the 2nd time in 3 seasons (he was in the AHL in 2010 when the Hawks won). He seemed to get more confident as each series went on, and was particularly strong in the Ducks and Lightning series. The "Crow" as they call him in Chicago was a big part of the Stanley Cup run and will be an important piece of this team for many years to come.
The Legend of Coach Q:
Quenneville came to a Hawks team that was one of the worst in the NHL the previous few years, which lead to the drafting of phenom's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Heading into the 2008/2009 season the Hawks had a lot of promise on their roster and finally started to show signs of turning into a strong hockey team again. Coach Q started to shape the young Hawks into a dangerous offensive team, leading them to 45 wins on the season and their first playoff birth since 2002. The Hawks would lose in the Conference Finals to the Detroit Red Wings, at the time the Red Wings had been the Stanley Cup Finals 2 years in a row. Quenneville gave the Hawks the taste for victory that they needed, he wanted them to become a good team as much as the players themselves did. After just 1 Conference Finals appearance in 11 years previously, Quenneville did it with the Hawks in year 1 (and the Hawks would make the Conference Finals again in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015).
Heading into the 2009/2010 season their was a lot of hype surrounding the Blackhawks and they delivered 52 wins, the most in Blackhawks franchise history. The Hawks surged into the playoffs and beat the Predators in 6, Canucks in 6, Sharks in 4 and Flyers in 6 en route to their 1st Stanley Cup since 1961. Quenneville finally had a Stanley Cup of his own, and instead of relishing in the glory of a Championship, Coach demanded more from his team. There might not be another Coach in the NHL who wants to win more than Quenneville, as he put it last night, "No other coach wants to win like me." Winning fuels the genius behind the mustache on Joel Quenneville's face. Flash forward to last night and Quenneville won his 3rd Stanley Cup in 7 years as Head Coach of the Blackhawks. The guy who couldn't make the Stanley Cup in his previous jobs was suddenly the Coach of a team with 3 Cups in 6 years. Coach Q is one of the best Head Coaches in the NHL and I have the utmost respect for him, both as an Avs fan that watched him and as a hockey fan who has seen his brilliance in Chicago. When he finally decides to stop coaching he will leave behind the legacy that he chased for so many years, most definitely he will make the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Blackhawks owe it to Coach Q for guiding them to where they are today, Stanley Cup Champions for the 3rd time in 6 years. As he put it last night about coaching the Hawks, "how could you give this up?"
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|STL||1996–97||40||18||15||7||—||(83)||4th in Central||2||4||.333||Lost in 1st Round (DET)|
|STL||1997–98||82||45||29||8||—||98||3rd in Central||6||4||.600||Lost in 2nd Round (DET)|
|STL||1998–99||82||37||32||13||—||87||2nd in Central||6||7||.461||Lost in 2nd Round (DAL)|
|STL||1999–2000||82||51||19||11||1||114||1st in Central||3||4||.428||Lost in 1st Round (SJ)|
|STL||2000–01||82||43||22||12||5||103||2nd in Central||9||6||.600||Lost in Conf. Finals (COL)|
|STL||2001–02||82||43||27||8||4||98||2nd in Central||5||5||.500||Lost in 2nd Round (DET)|
|STL||2002–03||82||41||24||11||6||99||2nd in Central||3||4||.428||Lost in 1st Round (VAN)|
|STL||2003–04||61||29||23||7||2||(91)||2nd in Central||—||—||—||(Fired)|
|STL Total||593||307||191||77||18||34||34||.500||7 playoff appearances|
|COL||2005–06||82||43||30||—||9||95||2nd in Northwest||4||5||.444||Lost in 2nd Round (ANA)|
|COL||2006–07||82||44||31||—||7||95||4th in Northwest||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|COL||2007–08||82||44||31||—||7||95||2nd in Northwest||4||6||.400||Lost in 2nd Round (DET)|
|COL Total||246||131||92||—||23||8||11||.421||2 playoff appearances|
|CHI||2008–09||78||45||22||—||11||(104)||2nd in Central||9||8||.529||Lost in Conf. Finals (DET)|
|CHI||2009–10||82||52||22||—||8||112||1st in Central||16||6||.727||Won Stanley Cup (PHI)|
|CHI||2010–11||82||44||29||—||9||97||3rd in Central||3||4||.428||Lost in 1st Round (VAN)|
|CHI||2011–12||82||45||26||—||11||101||4th in Central||2||4||.333||Lost in 1st Round (PHX)|
|CHI||2012–13||48||36||7||—||5||77||1st in Central||16||7||.696||Won Stanley Cup (BOS)|
|CHI||2013–14||82||46||21||—||15||107||3rd in Central||11||8||.579||Lost in Conf. Finals (LA)|
|CHI||2014–15||82||48||28||—||6||102||3rd in Central||16||7||.696||Won Stanley Cup (TB)|
|CHI Total||536||316||155||—||65||72||44||.621||7 playoff appearances|
3 Stanley Cup championships
|Total||1,375||754||438||77||106||114||89||.562||16 playoff appearances|
3 Stanley Cup championships
-No one was happier to win the Stanley Cup then 40-year old defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Timonen had never won before in his 16-year, 1,108 games played NHL career.He had come so close in 2010 losing to the team he plays for now, the Chicago Blackhawks. Timonen was able to retire as a Stanley Cup Champion, look at the smile on his face:
-Antoine Vermette had his ups and downs after being traded to the Hawks at the deadline. He was a healthy scratch at times and found it hard to hit the back of the net. Things changed for Vermette in the playoffs and he was able to find some success on a line with Teuvo Teravainen and Kris Versteeg. Vermette would go on to score 4 goals in the playoffs including 3 game-winning goals (2 in the Stanley Cup Finals). He also gets his 1st Stanley Cup:
-Andrew Desjardins was a solid 4th liner throughout the playoffs, he came over the Hawks at the deadline for Ben Smith. Desjardins formed particularly good chemistry with Andrew Shaw and was a strong penalty killer.
Comparing the 3 Championship Runs:
The Conn Smythe Winners:
|2010 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner Jonathan Toews|
22 GP: 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points, -1, 3 GWG
|2013 Conn Smyhe Trophy Winner Patrick Kane|
23 GP - 9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points, +7, 2 GWG
|2015 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner|
23 GP: 3 goals, 18 assists, 21 points, +16, 3 GWG
Duncan Keith became just the 9th defenseman in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. He logged an incredible 715:37 minutes of icetime in the playoffs, the 4th most in NHL history in the playoffs (Drew Doughty 747:33 in 2014, Chris Pronger 742:55 in 2006, Niklas Lindstrom 717:01 in 2002). All 3 of his goals were game-winning goals including a series-winning goal in the Nashville and Tampa Bay series.
What this latest Championship Means to Chicago:
If the NHL world already didn't recognize the Blackhawks as the best team in the league, 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years should cement that in stone. The Blackhawks are the NHL's only and current dynasty in the salary cap era, a team that has been the model of consistency the last 8 years in the NHL. This latest win was a big one for the city of Chicago, watching their Blackhawks win on home ice for the first time since 1938. The Blackhawks are starting to win over the city of Chicago and turn it into a hockey town, how could you live in Chicago now and not be a Hawks fan with how good this team is?
Critics bashed the Hawks in 2010 saying they would have to tear apart the roster after winning the Cup. What did they do? 3 years later they won the Cup again in 2013. The critics came out again, said there would be no way to maintain this roster after a 2nd Cup in 4 years. Like after the 2010 Cup run, players were moved but the core stayed intact, and here we are 2 years later and the Hawks are Stanley Cup Champions yet again. This time around people recognize the special group in Chicago, maybe it is possible to build a dynasty in the salary cap era that works so hard to prevent them. Maybe its possible to keep a team in contention even after having to trade important pieces away. They did it in 2010, they did it in 2013, now they face the same pressure in 2015 but they do so as Champions. The Hawks now have a chance to continuing adding to their 3 Cups in 6 years, I would not be surprised if they repeat next season. This latest win was as big for the team as it was for the city of Chicago.
What the Future Holds for the Blackhawks:
Here is a look at the Hawks current cap situation:
-With the Cap set to go up for next season, the Hawks will be faced with some tough questions. The following players are UFAs this summer: Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival while the following players are RFAs: Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom, David Runblad.
-The Hawks #1 priority this summer will be locking up young forwards Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger.
-Brad Richards should and will likely return to the Blackhawks, can't see him leaving after winning the Cup. He would likely take a deal similar to this season (1-year, $2 million), my guess somewhere in the 1-3 year range at $2-3.5 million a season.
-My guess is Vermette and Oduya will likely test free agency, I can see Oduya taking a discount to stay with the Hawks but both would get good money in free agency.
-If the Hawks find themselves in cap trouble the following players would be considered trade bait:
Patrick Sharp - 2 years left at $5.9 million
Bryan Bickell - 2 years left at $4 million
Kris Versteeg - 1 year left at $2.2 million
-Whatever moves the Blackhawks make look for them to build at the NHL Draft and via free agency
-Finally, here is the Blackhawks signing "We are the Champions": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGmN_nHwzY4
-The Blackhawks are Stanley Cup Champions for the 3rd time in 6 years!
-Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff