Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to look at. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 team’s most important game. This is the Chicago Blackhawks biggest game in franchise history. The full series is found here.
Chicago Blackhawks Biggest Game
The Chicago Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cups since being founded in 1926. Their history is rich with epic moments during the regular season and playoffs. Choosing the Blackhawk’s “Biggest Game” is not an easy task. Their Cup victory in 1961 would be their last for 49 years. The franchise has had numerous ups and downs throughout the years, but none worse than the 49 “Cup-less” years from 1961-2010. For today we will focus on the Blackhawk’s biggest game post-1961. As an Original Six Team, we will also have a few games that deserve an honourable mention.
Blackhawks Biggest Game
It would be easy to have the Cup-winning, Game Six overtime victory, against the Philadelphia Flyers as the Blackhawk’s biggest game. Patrick Kane scoring his “mystery goal” in overtime capped off a great playoff run. It also alleviated a franchise and its fans of 49 years of agony and despair. This victory was pivotal in reviving a fan base and was the culmination of the greatest season in franchise history as covered in Last Word’s summer series last year.
For this Last Word summer series article, we have our focus on another playoff series. We are looking at the 2013 NHL playoff series between the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. This series had it all, animosity, a team captain losing his cool, a monumental comeback after being down three games to one, and a huge clutch overtime goal. All of this was part of the Blackhawk’s biggest game in history: Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Blackhawks 2013 Semi-Final Playoff – Game Seven
The 2012-13 NHL season was a public relations disaster due to the lockout. The NHL players and owners settled the labor agreement in time for a shortened season. There would be a 48 game season beginning on January 19th, 2013. The Blackhawks opened the season against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings. Unfortunately for the Kings, the Stanley Cup Champion banner raising ceremony would be the only bright spot that day. The Blackhawks smoked the Kings 5-2 in a dominant performance by a team looking to redeem themselves after two straight first-round playoff exits.
The Blackhawks as a team were absolutely dominant that season. After ruining the King’s opening game celebration, they would go on a run with 23 more games without a regulation loss. Their record after 24 games was 21-0-3. They would continue this torrid pace and finish the season with a record of 36-7-5. They ended up first in the NHL in points, won first place in the Central Division, recorded the fewest goals-against in the league with 102, and scored the second-most goals with 155.
2013 NHL Playoffs
The Blackhawks started the playoffs with a series against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild were the eighth seed and would, unfortunately, face the Blackhawks in the opening round. The Blackhawks would dispose of the Wild in five games, outscoring them 17-7 along the way.
The Blackhawks next opponent would be the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings were the seventh seed in the playoffs and next up after they beat the second-seed Anaheim Ducks in a grueling seven-game series that included four overtime games. Their victory in game seven in Anaheim was a testament to the pride of the Red Wings. Despite being the seventh seed, they were a dangerous team.
Blackhawks Versus Red Wings
The series began in Chicago on May 15th, 2013. The Blackhawks dominated the Wings in game one. The 4-1 victory was a statement game for the Blackhawks and their Red Wing hating fans. Little did they know but the Wings were not going to give up easily. Detroit would take the next game in Chicago 4-1 and also game three in Detroit 3-1.
Entering Game Four in Detroit, pressure began to mount on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Many questioned his play after going scoreless, with only one assist in Game One. With the Wings dominating Games Two and Three, many wondered what was wrong with the Hawks captain.
Then came Game Four and one of the worst on-ice meltdowns for the captain. The pressure was on Toews to produce as the Blackhawks team leader. Unfortunately, he was consumed with the lack of penalties being called against the Wings for obstruction, holding, hooking, and interference. His frustrations with the officiating led to him being called for three straight minor penalties in the second period. After being sent to the box for the third straight time, defenceman Brent Seabrook went into the box to calm down the furious Toews. The video highlight of that moment would be played over and over as the series continued. Despite losing Game Four 2-0, the Blackhawks, Toews’ passion was beginning to come back. The outrage from the captain reeled the team, making them confident in their chances for the upcoming Game Five.
Game Five would see the return to order for the captain and his team. Toews scored a power-play goal in the second period which seemed to lift the monkey off of his back. Overall, the Blackhawks prevailed 4-1 and headed back to Detroit for Game Six. This game would see the Blackhawks score three straight goals in the third period and hang on for a 4-3 win. Toews recorded two assists in the game and appeared to be back to normal.
Game Seven Heroics
Every Game Seven of a playoff series is huge. Game Seven against the Red Wings was a chance for the Blackhawks to win a playoff series after trailing three-to-one for the first time in franchise history. The Blackhawks opened the scoring at the 1:08-minute mark of the second period and the United Center erupted. The third period began with the Red Wings trailing 1-0 but they then shot a silencer in the United Center crowd by scoring after only 26 seconds of play.
The third period would continue with tight play and close checking. With time running down on the clock Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson scored what looked like the go-ahead goal with 1:47 left. Behind the play, however, there was a scrum with off-setting penalties being called. The Hjalmarsson goal was wiped out due to the penalties, to the dismay of the Blackhawks and the United Center crowd.
Overtime would see one of the biggest goals in franchise history. Brent Seabrook picked up a loose puck and blasted a shot past goalie Jimmy Howard. The United Center crowd was rocking and the Wings were shocked. The greatest playoff comeback in Blackhawk’s history was finally complete thanks to Seabrook’s overtime heroics. His game-winning goal would cap off the Blackhawks biggest game in style. Without it, Chicago would not have been able to defeat the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final or the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
Seabrook’s goal was more than a simple series-winner. The Hawks absolutely dominated during the regular season, continuing their hot streak through the first round of the playoffs. Yet, a Detroit team, led by Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary, was able to completely shut down a legendary Chicago roster. All hope seemed lost after Game Four’s defeat. Yet, the Hawks mounted their cavalry and refused to give up. Game Seven was the final battle. With Seabrook’s overtime winner, the Hawks did more than simply move on to the next round. They solidified their role as the best team in the league, showing that even under immense pressure, they’ll prevail. The win was enough to convince many that the Hawks would undoubtedly win the Cup and, in the long-run, establish a legendary dynasty.
Blackhawks Biggest Game – Honourable Mentions
Choosing the biggest game in the history of an Original Six team is an impossible task. The number of games and playoff series since 1926 provides so many big moments it is hard to have just one “biggest game.” We are going to list three other of the Blackhawks biggest games for you to enjoy.
1972 NHL Playoffs Semi-Finals – Game Four
Game Four of the 1972 NHL semi-finals would see the Blackhawks losing 6-2 as they were swept in four games by the New York Rangers. The Blackhawks had finished first overall in the West with 107 points that season. They swept the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to one in the first round and were riding high until meeting up with the Rangers. While the sweep was a big disappointment, nobody following the team would expect what happened in the summer of 1972.
It was in June 1972 that the Blackhawks faithful learned that the game four loss would be the last game Bobby Hull played for their favourite team. Hull scored 50 goals with 93 points in his last season. The Blackhawk’s largest living legend was soon being courted by the Winnipeg Jets of the new World Hockey Association. Signing Hull would bring instant credibility to the newly formed hockey league and help draw other players to leave the NHL. For more on this check out this from chicagotribune.com:
“The upstart World Hockey Association offered “The Golden Jet” a then-whopping $1 million signing bonus to lure him from the Hawks.”
“Jets owner Ben Hatskin, with the assistance of other WHA owners hoping to gain an instant marketing sensation, signed Hull as a player/coach to a 10-year contract worth $1.75 million in addition to the signing bonus. Many fans became disenchanted with the Hawks for letting their superstar get away, especially in a pre-salary-cap era.”
So Ends An Era
The departure of Bobby Hull left Chicago reeling and began the decline of the once rabid fan base. The Blackhawks would return to the Stanley Cup Final twice after Hull left, in 1972-73 and 1991-92. After losing both of those Cup series, the team would drift into mediocrity for several years. The fans lost interest in the team as it went with only one playoff appearance between the 1996-97 and 2008-09 seasons.
The “dead puck era” in Chicago was a dark time as the local papers, tv stations, and fans basically ignored the team. Attendance dropped and people became indifferent about hockey in Chicago. The worst mistake ever made by the Wirtz family was allowing Bobby Hull to leave. Unfortunately, Hull’s last game in 1972 would be the end of an era.
Blackhawk’s Biggest Game Honourable Mentions – Part Two
Two additional Blackhawks games were also worthy of honourable mentions. We are also going to highlight another hockey game in Chicago that has become legendary.
- 2010 Game Six Stanley Cup Final. Patrick Kane cements his name in Blackhawk’s history forever by scoring the overtime winner in game six of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. Kane’s huge goal released all of the demons of 49 years without a Stanley Cup.
- 2013 Game Six Stanley Cup Final. The now infamous “17 seconds” in Boston involving two goals by Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland. In a matter of 17 seconds, the Blackhawks went from trailing to winning their second Stanley Cup in four seasons.
- 1991 NHL All-Star Game. The All-Star game occurred just two days after the start of Operation Desert Storm. National anthems were a huge event at the old Chicago Stadium. But on this day patriotism and support for those serving their countries were incredible. Words cannot describe the feelings while watching the anthems that day. To watch the emotional video of the national anthems click: HERE
Blackhawks Biggest Game Wrap Up
We brought you several of the biggest games in Blackhawks’s history today. If you have your own Blackhawk’s biggest game, be sure to list it in the comments section. Also, be sure to check out Last Word’s daily articles for every team in the NHL as the summer series continues.