For the first time in almost 50 years, the Chicago Blackhawks are about to begin a season as defending Stanley Cup champions. Because of the history that was made this spring, let’s look back at the team’s history and rank the top 25 players to ever wear the Indian head sweater.
25. Jonathan Toews - Yes, he’s still 22. And yes, he’s only been in the league for three seasons for an Original Six franchise. But he deserves a nod at the bottom of the list for a number of reasons. Toews’ resume while representing Canada is overwhelming, but that doesn’t carry any weight here. There are other reasons to put the baby-faced star on the list.
He was the number three overall pick in the draft. He’s led the team in goals in a season. He was runner-up for the Calder Trophy. He’s the youngest captain in the history of the franchise. He’s started an All Star Game. Most importantly, Toews led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory and won the Conn Smythe as the captain of the team. The fact that he’s held the Cup as the captain of the team gets him onto this list by itself. By the end of his career, who knows how much higher he might rank.
24. Eric Nesterenko - Nesterenko played for the Blackhawks from 1956-57 through the 1971-72 season, playing in 1,013 games in the Indian head sweater (third-most in franchise history). During that stellar career, Nesterenko scored 495 points (14th in team history) and he ranks 17th in club history with 207 goals.He also served 1,012 penalty minutes for Chicago.
23. Doug Bentley - Bentley played for the Blackhawks from 1939-40 through 1951-52. His 217 goals rank 13th in franchise history, and his 531 points rank 12th all-time. He served only 215 penalty minutes in 546 games for Chicago.
22. Al Secord - Secord played for the Chicago Blackhawks throughout the 1980s, but is best remembered for teaming up with two youngsters, Denis Savard and Steve Larmer, to create one of the fastest skating and scoring lines in the entire NHL in the early part of the decade. During his time with the Hawks, Secord recorded 372 points (213 G, 159 A), was plus-13 and served an astounding 1,426 penalty minutes.
21. Dirk Graham - Graham was in Chicago from 1987-88 through 1994-95, and was a solid leader on young, emerging, talented Hawks teams into the early 90s. He would score 343 points as a Blackhawks winger (152 G, 191 A), was plus-35 and served 628 penalty minutes. He is still Chicago’s all-time career leader in short handed goals, with 26.
After the 1990-91 season, Graham became the second Blackhawk to win the Selke Award as the league’s best defensive forward; no Blackhawks player has won it since.
20. Troy Murray - Murray was the first of only two Blackhawks to win the Selke Award as the best defensive forward in the league when he received the award after the 1985-86 season. He was regarded as one of the better defensive forwards in the game during his career, spending between the 1981-82 and 1993-94 seasons in Chicago.
Murray wasn’t one-dimensional, though. He also scored 488 points in Chicago, which ranks 15th in team history. His 197 goals ranks 18th in team history, but many of those goals were at crucial times. He scored 29 game-winners for the Hawks (ninth in team history), and he added 17 short-handed goals (fifth in team history). He now works as the color man for Blackhawks radio broadcasts.
He ended his Chicago career ranked second in franchise history in short-handed goals (20), among his 541 points (268 G, 273 A). He was plus-67 in Chicago, and served 468 penalty minutes. Amonte was elected into the US Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
18. Bob Murray - Murray was a rock on the Hawks blue-line from 1975-76 until 1989-90. He had the benefit of playing next to some solid scorers like Savard, Larmer, Secord and Troy Murray. He finished his Hawks career with 514 points (132 G, 381 A), was plus-20, and served 873 penalty minutes. He is currently the General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks.
17. Jim Pappin - Pappin was only with the Hawks from 1968-69 through 1974-75, but he was one of the best scorers in team history. He scored 444 points (216 G, 228 A) in only 488 games in Chicago. He was plus-85 and served 447 penalty minutes.
16. Cliff Koroll - Koroll played in Chicago from 1969-70 through 1979-80 and was an effective, steady scorer. He ended his Chicago career with 462 points (208 G, 254 A), was plus-109 and served 376 penalty minutes. He played 814 games on Chicago’s west side.
After the 2009-10 season, Keith became just the fourth Hawks defenseman to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman. His 197 points already rank tenth among defensemen in the history of the franchise, and he’s 12th overall in team history already with a plus-73 rating for his career. His new contract should keep him in Chicago for the rest of his career, so who knows how high he might rank when he hangs up his skates.
14. Ed Belfour - The Eagle soared in Chicago from 1988-89 through 1996-97, and was as good as there was between the pipes during that stretch. In the early ’90s, he was backed up by a young Dominik Hasek as the Hawks advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Belfour ended his Chicago career with a record of 201-138-56 with 30 shutouts and a 2.65 goals against average.
13. Pit Martin – Similar to Chris Chelios, Martin was traded for a future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they unloaded a young star on the way up, rather than the declining Denis Savard who was dealt for Chelios. In May of 1967, the Blackhawks received Martin and two other players from the Boston Bruins in a trade that sent Phil Esposito to Boston. The word “oops” comes to mind.
Martin was a solid center for the Hawks from 1967-68 through 1977-78, though. He would score 627 points (243 G, 384 A), was plus-156, and served 439 penalty minutes. While he didn’t win four Art Ross Trophies like Esposito did, he’s still ranked seventh in team history in points.
12. Keith Magnuson - Maggie wasn’t as flashy as many of the Hawks during his time in Chicago, but his gritty willingness to drop the gloves with anyone at any time made him a fan favorite. There probably isn’t a player in league history as loved as Maggie is in Chicago who scored only 139 points (a bad season for Gretzky).
Magnuson played in Chicago from 1969-70 through 1979-80, and scored just 14 goals and had 125 assists. He was +170 for his career, though, and served an astronomical 1,442 penalty minutes, second in franchise history. His number three is retired in mutual honor of Maggie and Pierre Pilot.
11. Dennis Hull - Dennis played in Chicago from 1964-65 through 1976-77 and was a solid contributor during his time with the team. He scored 640 points in his Chicago career (298 G, 342 A), which ranks sixth in team history. He also served only 255 penalty minutes in 904 games in Chicago.
10. Jeremy Roenick - Was the best scorer to wear a Chicago sweater between Denis Savard and, arguably, Patrick Kane. No. 27 played for the Blackhawks from 1988-89 through 1995-96, and he was among the best scorers in the game during that stretch. He scored 596 points (267 G, 329 A) in 524 games, was plus-117, and only served 520 minutes in the penalty box. His tenure in Chicago might be best remembered for his incredible depiction on the NHL ’94 video game.
9. Chris Chelios – Many fans forget that Chelios was acquired in June 29, 1990 from the Montreal Canadiens with a second-round draft pick in exchange for Denis Savard. He won two Norris Trophies with the Blackhawks, after the 1992-93 and 1995-96 seasons; only Pierre Pilote has won multiple Norris Trophies in Chicago.
Chelios would play from the 1990-91 season through 1998-99, and to this day is one of the most respected former Blackhawks players in history. He was the captain from 1995-99 and was a rock on the blue line during his Chicago career. Chelios scored 487 points as a Hawk (92 G, 395 A), was +120, and holds the Blackhawks team record with 1,495 penalty minutes. He never got cheated when the gloves hit the ice.
8. Doug Wilson - The second current NHL General Manager on the list (San Jose Sharks), Wilson played a strong offensive blue line for the Hawks from 1977-78 through 1990-91. Wilson ended his career as the top scoring defenseman in team history with 779 points (225G, 554 A), good for fifth overall all time in Hawks history. He was plus-119 in his Chicago tenure, and served 764 penalty minutes.
7. Steve Larmer - Larmer is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the history of the NHL. He played with the Blackhawks from 1980-81 through 1992-93, and made the playoffs in every season he wore the Indian-head sweater. Not only did he not miss the playoffs, but Larmer didn’t miss a game. He played in 884 consecutive games, a team record and NHL record for consecutive games with one franchise. He won the Calder Trophy in 1983, was a two-time All Star, and ranks third in franchise history in goals scored and fifth in assists.
He ended his Chicago career ranked fourth in team history with 923 total points (406 G, 571 A). He also ranks first in team history in game-winning goals with 49 and plus-minus of plus-182. He only served 445 penalty minutes with the Hawks.
Larmer should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
6. Tony Esposito - Esposito followed Hall in the net in Chicago, and then would follow him into the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best goalies to ever play the game, and was a pioneer of the butterfly style of goaltending. Esposito played in Chicago from 1969-70 though 1983-84. He was 418-302-147 with a team record 74 shut outs and a solid 2.93 goals against average.
5. Denis Savard - Savard is currently one of the four Blackhawks Ambassadors, and has been as loved as any player in the franchise’s history. He would return to coach the team for a couple seasons, until he was replaced by current coach Joel Quenneville early in the 2008-09 season.
Savard scored 1,096 points in his career with the Blackhawks (377 G, 719 A), which is third in the history of the team. He was plus-92 in his Chicago career, and served 1,005 penalty minutes. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
4. Glen Hall - Hall was between the pipes the last time the Hawks hoisted the Stanley Cup, and was one of the best goaltenders ever to play the game. Hall ended his Chicago career with a 275-229-106 record, including 51 shut outs and a stellar 2.60 goals against average. He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Between Hall and Esposito, the Blackhawks only had two primary goalies from 1957 through 1984. The Blackhawks have retired the numbers of both great netminders, but haven’t been able to secure an elite player between the pipes since Belfour left.
3. Pierre Pilote - Pilote was with the Blackhawks from 1955-56 through 1967-68, and is recognized by many for being a pioneer in the evolution of the offensive-minded defenseman. Pilote ended his Chicago career with 477 points (77 G, 400 A), and served 1,205 penalty minutes.
He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and had his No. 3 retired by the Blackhawks last year, an honor he shares with Keith Magnuson. Pilote was the captain of the 1961 championship team.
2. Bobby “The Golden Jet” Hull - Hull did things on the ice that hadn’t been done before, and was certainly the premier scorer of his day. But a disagreement with ownership led to his premature departure from the Blackhawks, leaving many fans to wonder what could have been.
In 1966 Hull became the first player to score more than 50 goals in a single season, ending the season with 54. He led the NHL in scoring seven times in the 1960s, and would score 50 or more goals five times. At that point in history, the fete had only been accomplished by other players six times total.
He played in Chicago from 1957-58 through 1971-72, and was a rocket on the ice. He scored 1,152 points (604 G, 548 A) in only 1,036 games, with only 640 penalty minutes.
1. Stan Mikita - Mikita played in Chicago from 1958-59 through 1979-80 (his entire career), and served as the Hawks’ captain for many of those seasons. “Stosh” led the NHL in scoring four times in the 1960s, and would tie Hull’s single-season scoring record of 97 in 1966-67.
He is still the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring with 1,467 points, ranks second to Hull with 541 goals, and leads all Blackhawks all time with 926 assists. He is also among the Hawks leaders in penalty minutes with 1,270. Mikita is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and was further immortalized with his doughnut shop in the movie “Wayne’s World.”