There are 26 NHL teams that would rather be using hockey sticks instead of golf clubs while the Blackhawks and their three counterparts continue the battle for the Stanley Cup. Chicago became just the 21st team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to move on. Of course, the triumph came with some controversy, when Niklas Hjalmarsson's goal with 1:47 remaining in regulation was negated by a referee's whistle while two players were fighting near the Detroit bench. Fortunately, Brent Seabrook's goal at 3:35 of overtime has helped ease that angst as the Hawks have moved to the conference finals.
I don't want to mislead you, because besides the work I do for the team, I am a Blackhawks fan! It is easy to criticize a referee's call. All you have to remember is Game 6 at Detroit, when I'm sure most of the Red Wings faithful questioned the penalty shot call that resulted in Michael Frolik's game-winning goal to tie the series.
I was fortunate to be sitting in the first balcony at the Stadium on April 4, 1959, for Game 6 of the playoff semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal was up 3-2 in the series against Chicago, which was making its first playoff appearance in six years and facing the defending champs. Red Storey was considered the best referee in the league; it wound up being his last NHL game.
The Hawks kept taking the lead, but the Canadiens tripped Ed Litzenberger once, then scored to tie the game.Then two more times, Bobby Hull was tripped in the third period, and both times the visitors took the puck up ice to score and win the game 5-4 in the final 90 seconds, and ultimately the series.
All three times, Storey failed to call a penalty against the Canadiens, and fans showered the ice for more than 30 minutes. When the game ended, two fans ran onto the ice trying to get at him, but were halted, one by the stick of Montreal's Doug Harvey. NHL Commissioner Clarence Campbell was at the game and was asked about Storey's officiating. He told the press that "Storey choked!"
So while the whistle prevented Hjalmarsson's goal last Wednesday, Seabrook eventually came through. Remember, the referees try to call them as they see them, and hopefully their decisions don't affect the final score. Go Hawks!
This has been a season of sports streaks, with the Blackhawks setting two and aiming for another NHL mark.
The Hawks went 24 games to start a campaign without a regulation loss, earning at least a point in every contest. Ray Emery became the first NHL goalie to start a season with 12 straight victories.
Now the Hawks have a chance to set a new NHL mark for most points in a 48-game season—the previous high belongs to Boston, who recorded 74 points in 1938-39 on their way to the Stanley Cup. The last regular 48-game schedule was in 1941-42, although the labor-shortened campaign of 1994-95 saw Detroit rack up 70 points in 48 contests.
Reviewing the streaks that the four previous Chicago Stanley Cup winners enjoyed takes us back to 1933-34. That squad wound up 20-17-11 with a second-place finish in the American Division, and their longest string of wins was seven games (4-0-3). The Hawks were paced by goalie Charlie Gardiner, who beat both Montreal teams in the NHL back then (Canadiens and Maroons) before the team defeated Detroit for the Cup with a dramatic overtime goal in Game 4 of the best-of-five series.
The 1938 champions remain the only NHL team to claim the Cup with a losing regular-season record (14-25-9), doing so with a roster that boasted eight American-born players. They had just one modest three-game win streak. In the playoffs, they knocked off Montreal, then New York. In meeting the favored Maple Leafs for the finals, they had to use minor-league goalie Alfie Moore in the opener. Chicago won that game 3-1 and grabbed the Cup by winning the best-of-five series 3-1.
The 1960-61 winners were paced by Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote and goalie Glenn Hall. They posted a 29-24-17 mark and had a seven-game win streak. In the playoffs, they upset the Canadiens in the semis as Hall shutout Montreal in the last two games and then dispatched Detroit in the finals.
The 2010 Cup champions set a franchise regular-season mark with 112 points in the standings (52-22-8) and enjoyed an eight-game win streak during the campaign. The playoff run saw the Hawks oust Nashville, Vancouver and then sweep San Jose before Patrick Kane's dramatic overtime goal in Philadelphia brought the Cup back to Chicago for the first time in 49 years.
With a record-breaking streak to start the season, the Hawks hope to carry momentum into the playoffs and bring the Cup back to their loyal fans!
The Blackhawks retired the 5th jersey in team history on this date in 1998 when Hall of Famer Denis Savard's No. 18 was lifted to the rafters of the United Center.
On this date in 1992, Jeremy Roenick became the first American-born Blackhawk, and the third in team history, to score 50 goals in one season. He reached the milestone in his hometown of Boston, as Chicago edged the Bruins 2-1.
Tony Amonte scored the first hat trick in the United Center on Feb. 22, 1996 against St. Louis. Amonte went on to record 63 points (31G, 32A) during the 1995-96 campaign.
On this date in 1944, a "perfect game" is played at Chicago Stadium. The game ends in a scoreless tie, and there are no penalties called.
On this date in 1927, George Hay registered the first hat trick in Blackhawks history in a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings in Detroit.
On this date in 2011, Patrick Sharp registered his fifth multi-goal game of the season, scoring two goals and adding a helper in Columbus, and reached the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career as a Blackhawk.
On this date in 1942, Hall of Famer Bill Mosienko set a franchise record collecting four points as a rookie. The Blackhawks went on to defeat Detroit 4-2 at the Chicago Stadium.
In 1977, Dick Redmond became the 1st Blackhawks defenseman to score a hat trick, leading Chicago to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Patrick Sharp scored his 1st goal in a Blackhawks sweater on Feb. 12, 2006, against the Ducks in Anaheim.
Blackhawks owners Arthur Wirtz and Jim Norris honored Glenn Hall's feat of starting 503 games in goal, all without a mask, surprising him before a game at the Stadium against the Montreal Canadiens on January 17, 1962, by driving a new 1962 Chevrolet on the ice.