Franchise Best: Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 Season

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Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10
CHICAGO - JUNE 11: Jonathan Toews #19 hoists the cup during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory parade and rally on June 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Chicago Blackhawks best season 

Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 Season

The Chicago Blackhawks began as an original six franchise in the 1927-28 season winning their first of six Stanley Cups in 1933-34. The storied franchise has had its share of ups and downs throughout their 90 years in the league. However, the Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 season is by far the greatest ever for the team and its fans.

Previous Year and Off-Season Additions

The Chicago Blackhawks were a franchise on the rise for a few seasons prior to 2009-10. The team drafted captain Jonathan Toews 3rd overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. The next year, they hit the jackpot winning the draft lottery and securing the first overall pick. They drafted Patrick Kane at the 2007 NHL Draft. Both would join the team in the 2007-08 season becoming two of the most recognized hockey players in the league.

Free Agent Signings

Free agents signings played a huge role in building the Blackhawks into a Cup contender. They would sign Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet in the summer of 2008. Their addition to the lineup and the play of Kane and Toews led the team to the Western Conference Final in 2008-09. The young Blackhawks lost to their bitter rivals the Detroit Red Wings after defeating the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames in the first two rounds. The 4-1 series drubbing by the Red Wings would serve to remind the Blackhawks how much losing hurt, and how close they were to greatness.

2009 Blockbuster Signing

After losing in the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks were poised to take the next step. All they needed were a few pieces to improve their roster for the next level. General manager Dale Tallon swung for the fences and hit a home run by signing Marian Hossa to a contract on July 1st, 2009. His 12-year, $63 million contract was a huge investment in one of the best two-way players to ever play. The Blackhawks also signed Tomas Kopecky and John Madden that summer, bringing experience and leadership to the young roster.

Season of Destiny

The Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 season was a consistent success story throughout the year. They had multiple long winning streaks during the season. This included an eight-game winning streak in November 2009 which set the team on their way to the third-best record in the NHL with 52-22-8 and 112 points. Statistically, the team finished third overall in scoring with 271 goals. The had the fifth lowest goals against with 209. Their +62 goal differential was second to only the Washington Capitals who were +85 on the year.

Scoring Leaders

Goaltending

  • Antti Niemi – 26-7-4,  2.25 goals against average, .912 save percentage
  • Cristobal Huet – 26-14-4, 2.50 goals against average, .895 save percentage

Season Additions

During the season they acquired defence journeyman Nick Boynton at the trade deadline to add depth. Boynton would play only seven games in the regular season and three in the playoffs.

Unstoppable Playoff Machine

Round One – Nashville Predators

The Predators had finished third in the Central Division with 103 points. In Game 1 they shocked the Blackhawks with a 4-1 thumping in front of a stunned sellout crowd. The loss was a wake-up call for the Blackhawks. Game 2 was a 2-0 shutout in the Blackhawks favour and all seemed well in the Windy City.

The only problem was that no one told the Predators they should lose. They whipped the Blackhawks in Game 3 by a similarly lopsided 4-1 score. The Predators and their fans were thinking upset after going up 2-1 in the series. Game 4 went back in the Blackhawks favour with another solid shutout winning 3-0.

Game 5 – Hossa Shines

The Blackhawks had home-ice advantage with three games left. Game 5 was a hotly contested game with the Blackhawk leading 3-2 after two periods. The third period opened with a quick goal by Martin Erat, followed by another Erat goal midway through the third period. Nerves in the United Center were frayed with the Blackhawks now trailing after leading 3-1 earlier in the game.

As the Blackhawks were pressing to tie the game, Marian Hossa was assessed a 5-minute major penalty for boarding at 18:57. The penalty silenced the crowd who realized their team needed a short-handed goal with just over a minute to go. With the goalie pulled, the Blackhawks notched the tying goal with 14 seconds left. The roof blew off of the United Center as Patrick Kane buried the tying goal.

When overtime began, Hossa still had 3:57 to serve on his major. The teams continued to battle as the Blackhawks pressed to kill off the penalty. What came next is one of the most dramatic turns of events in franchise history. Marian Hossa exited the penalty box and joined the rush. As a Brent Sopel shot from the point was deflected, Hossa got the puck and pushed it passed a stunned Pekka Rinne. One of the most dramatic comebacks was now complete.

Game 6 – Moving On

After the demoralizing game five loss to the Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators appeared to be a deflated team. As a result, the Blackhawks got all the goals they needed in the first period going up 4-3. The Blackhawks would hold on and win Game 6 in Nashville 5-3.

Round Two – Vancouver Canucks

The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks were in the midst of a bitter rivalry when they met in round two. The two teams had been involved in many heated games over the last several seasons. This included the infamous March 29, 2009 game that featured a line brawl between the teams. One of the biggest battles involved Duncan Keith and Alexandre Burrows, with Burrows pulling Keith’s hair several times during the scrap. Burrows would later go on to multiple accusations as a biter during his NHL career before retiring this summer.

With tensions high, the Canucks were looking for revenge. They had lost to the Blackhawks in the playoffs the previous year and wanted to knock off their rival. Unfortunately for the Canucks, it was not to be. They initially went up 2-1 in the series, surprising a Blackhawk team who was still celebrating the Nashville series win.

After a thrilling Game 4 2-1 overtime victory in Vancouver, the Blackhawks went on to win Games 5 and 6 to close out the Canucks. In the series, the Blackhawks scored 23 goals against Roberto Luongo and his teammates.

Round Three – San Jose Sharks

The Western Conference final was set. The teams with the best records would meet to decide who goes to the Stanley Cup Final. The San Jose Sharks sailed through their first two rounds defeating the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 and the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. In contrast, the Blackhawks struggled through with several dramatic moments while winning their first two series. As a result, San Jose’s confidence was high going into the series. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the Blackhawks were gelling as a team and San Jose never saw what hit them.

Game 1 began at a frantic pace with the Blackhawks having to kill off three penalties in the first period. Antti Niemi was strong in net throughout matching saves against Evgeni Nabokov while Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien scored the two goals needed for the victory. It was an uplifting win for Chicago who were outshot 45-40 thanks in part to five unanswered penalties against them in the game.

Blackhawks Roll

The Game 1 victory seemed to ignite the Blackhawks. They would crush the Sharks in Game 2 4-2 while the Sharks took several undisciplined penalties. Game 3 in Chicago was a wild affair with the Sharks out-shooting the Blackhawks 46-38. Niemi was incredible in net as the Blackhawks won in overtime with a huge goal by Dustin Byfuglien.

The table was now set for a sweep. The Blackhawks gave their fans some thrills going down 2-0 in the game but scored four unanswered goals to win 4-2. The Blackhawks played a classic shutdown game holding the Sharks to 18 shots in the contest. The celebration was on in Chicago. The Blackhawks were returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

Stanley Cup Final – Philadelphia Flyers

The Chicago Blackhawks had reached the ultimate destination, the Stanley Cup Final. Both the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers had lost their last five Cup Final appearances. Statistically, the Blackhawks were the better squad with 112 points versus 88 points for the Flyers. The Flyers caught fire in the playoffs defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-1, the Boston Bruins 4-3, and the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.

Home Ice Advantage

Both teams held serve with home-ice advantage. Chicago won Game 1 6-5 and Game 2 2-1. The Flyers would need overtime to win Game 3 4-3 and prevailed in Game 4 5-3. Game 5 was a shootout for the Blackhawks who jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one. The Blackhawks were playing with a purpose and would extend the lead to 5-2 after two. The teams would trade two goals in the third as the Blackhawks won convincingly 7-4. The game featured goals by Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien giving them 10 each in the playoffs.

Game 6 – “The Shot” Where Did It Go?

The Blackhawks rolled into Philadelphia looking to win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Game 6 was a thrilling back and forth barn burner between the two teams. They traded goals and ended up tied 3-3 before going to overtime. Then at 4:06 of the first overtime, Patrick Kane would cement his legacy as Show-Time by scoring on “the shot” against former Blackhawk goalie Michael Leighton.

As the Blackhawks were pressing, Kane got the puck along the boards from Brian Campbell. Kane then skated in down low and released “the shot” down near the goal line. No one in attendance realized Kane had scored except him. Play-by-play legend Mike “Doc” Emrick even called the shot as “he threw one in front, oh my it rattled around, and it’s kicked on back, and then score!” while Patrick Kane began his solo celebration. It took several seconds for the on-ice officials to confirm Kane had scored the Stanley Cup game-winner. The celebration was on as the team swarmed Kane and fireworks lit up the night sky in Chicago.

Playoff Stats

The Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 season playoff stats reflected the team’s successful run. Jonathan Toews scored seven goals and 22 assists earning himself the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the playoffs. Other notable team leaders were:

  • Goals – Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Sharp with 11
  • Points – Jonathan Toews with 29, Patrick Kane with 28, Patrick Sharp with 22
  • Game-Winning Goals – Dustin Byfuglien with 5
  • Goaltending – Antti Niemi 2.63 goals against average, .910 save percentage, most shots faced – 645

More Than A Stanley Cup

The Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 season brought the long-awaited Stanley Cup to Chicago. Winning the Cup brought the Blackhawks franchise back from the brink of irrelevance in a city starved for champions. The Blackhawks fan base now consisted of millions of new fans who started following the team when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were drafted.

Those new fans celebrated the Stanley Cup alongside the Blackhawk die-hards. The die-hard Blackhawk fans who suffered through the “Dead Puck Era” as it was called, were elated they finally had a champion. They were the fans you would find in a bar huddled around the lone TV showing the Blackhawks games. They would often have to ask the bartender to put the game on a TV because the Blackhawks were an afterthought in Chicago.

Local TV stations barely covered the team, and newspapers buried the Blackhawks articles deep in their sports sections. They would often run syndicated articles about the games instead of having a reporter cover the team. The only newspaper in town who gave any coverage was The Daily Herald. Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone kept pumping out articles for The Daily Herald regardless of the Blackhawks popularity. His articles were the only lifeline for the true die-hard Blackhawk fans wishing to follow their favourite team. Winning the Cup in 2010 was the ultimate reward for the die-hards who waited patiently for Lord Stanley’s Cup to return.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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