As the decade comes to a close, it’s easy to be emotional as a Blackhawks fan. It’s bittersweet to see the 2010s come to a close. There have certainly been rough patches, and the end of the decade is not what fans want, but this has absolutely been the golden age of Blackhawks hockey in Chicago.
So many players have played critical roles in the Hawks become a dynasty in the first half of the decade. Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Sharp are just a few of the names who have been fan favorites. Their jerseys will be worn to the United Center – and arenas around the NHL – with pride for decades to come.
The Hawks have played a handful of outdoor games and been one of the primary teams the NHL has used to market the game to a larger audience. They’ve been exciting at their best and a capable villain as other teams have climbed to the mountain top.
Chicago’s core won three Cups before the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins could. Dale Tallon built a championship roster and Stan Bowman rebuilt around the core to win two more championships.
Joel Quenneville became a Hall of Fame coach in Chicago. His tenure was marked by political issues between the bench and the front office, fans complaining about ice time and blaming either the coach or general manager when the team didn’t win. He left Chicago as the greatest coach in Blackhawks history – without question.
But who is the Blackhawks’ Player of the Decade?
Corey Crawford has been taken for granted since he arrived in Chicago. He’s been the backstop on two Stanley Cup championship teams. His 249 victories rank ninth in the NHL in the decade. He has a .917 save percentage since Jan. 1, 2010, which is better than Jonathan Quick, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Miller and Semyon Varlamov. And, if we’re honest, he should have won the Conn Smythe after the 2013 championship.
Duncan Keith had a tremendous decade. He ranks tenth among defensemen with 426 points, more than Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Weber, Mark Giordano and PK Subban. Only two players – Ryan Suter and Drew Doughty – have been on the ice for more total ice time than Keith in the past decade. Since Jan. 1, 2010, Keith has been on the ice for more than 18,680 minutes. That doesn’t include the Olympics, where Keith won two gold medals.
Keith has won two Norris Trophies and was named the Conn Smythe winner after the third of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championships. He’s been a warrior and a leader on the back end whose number will be hung from the rafters at the United Center someday. Keith is a certain Hall of Famer as well.
Jonathan Toews had a really good decade. Starting Jan. 1, 2010 the Blackhawks captain is tied for fourth in the NHL with 54 game-winning goals. His 15 short-handed goals rank sixth. He ranks fifth in the NHL with a plus-150 rating. He has averaged .86 points per game, which is the same as Brad Marchand, Brayden Point, Aleksander Barkov and Daniel Sedin. His 365 goals rank 13th overall and his 626 points rank 15th.
Only one player – Patrice Bergeron – has taken more faceoffs and won more faceoffs than Toews this decade. Over ten years, Toews has won 57.2 percent (8,604) of 15,049 faceoffs.
Toews ranks fifth in the decade with 97 playoff points.
Toews has been the captain of the Blackhawks the entire decade. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Blackhawks’ first Stanley Cup championship in 2010 and added a Selke Trophy in 2013 and a Messier Award in 2015. Some time down the road, his number 19 will be retired by the Chicago Blackhawks and he’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame based largely on this decade.
Crawford, Keith and Toews have had tremendous decades. But the player of the decade in Chicago is an easy pick.
Patrick Kane leads the entire NHL in points since Jan. 1, 2010 with 797. His 313 goals rank fourth behind only Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. His 484 assists rank fourth behind Nicklas Backstrom, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby. His 49 game-winning goals are tied with Patrick Marleau for 11th in the decade. His 242 power play points rank eighth. And his 1.08 point-per-game average is tied with Stamkos for fourth in the decade behind Connor McDavid, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Only three skaters – Anze Kopitar, Giroux and Ovechkin – have been on the ice for more than Kane’s 15,076 total minutes. He’s been a workhorse who continues to be one of the all-time elite offensive players in franchise history.
In the postseason, Kane has been a beast. Only Crosby (123) has more postseason points in the decade than Kane’s 109. Kane’s 11 game-winning goals in the postseason lead the entire NHL.
In addition to the Conn Smythe in 2013, Kane won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in 2016. No player will ever wear number 88 in the Indian head ever again. He will join Keith, Toews and probably Hossa in the Hall of Fame some day down the road, and Kane will likely go down as the greatest American-born player in NHL history.
This has been the greatest decade of Blackhawks hockey since the club played its first game on November 17, 1926.