Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Chicago Blackhawks decade lineup.
Chicago Blackhawks Decade Team
The Chicago Blackhawks are, in many respects, the defining NHL franchise of the last decade. The team broke out of a long-time drought to win the Stanley Cup in 2010 and went on to lift the cup twice more in 2013 and 2015. While the Blackhawks have fallen off over the last couple years, it does not change the fact that Chicago was a bonafide Stanley Cup favourite for the lion’s share of the decade.
With all the success the Blackhawks experienced over the last decade, one may think it might be difficult to boil down all the talent into just six players. Indeed, Chicago has been home to many talented and even superstar players over the last ten years. Despite this, some players were able to rise above to be the team’s best of this decade. Of all the teams in the NHL over the last decade, no other franchise can boast an all-decade lineup that features 17 combined Stanley Cup rings, multiple sure-fire Hall-of-Famers, and three members of the NHL Top 100 Players list.
Left-Wing: Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp is, in some ways, an unsung hero for the Chicago Blackhawks’ dynastic decade. Sharp never won a major award. In fact, he was never even elected to an all-star game. But Sharp wracked up goals in a secondary-scoring role and provided a solid defensive game. This skill set made him a dangerous second-line talent. Sharp received Selke votes for his defensive play five straight years from 2007-2008 until 2011-2012.
After the turn of the decade, the left-winger started scoring goals at a torrid pace. Sharp scored 107 goals in 258 games from 2010-2014. While this may not seem too impressive, goals were much harder to come by at the time.
Centre: Jonathan Toews
Along with the next player on our list, Jonathan Toews served as the franchise player for the Blackhawks over the last decade. Chicago drafted Toews with the third overall pick in the 2006 entry draft. The centre’s arrival in Chicago marked the turning point for a struggling Blackhawks team. The North Dakota product was an immediate impact player, tallying 54 points in 65 games during his rookie campaign. Toews has always been a productive player with 815 points in 943 career games. His point totals, however, do not tell the full story.
The real trademarks of Toews’ game are his leadership and ability to play a two-way game. Toews is often referred to as “captain serious,” a moniker he earned for his cool demeanour as captain of the Blackhawks, even at a young age as he ascended to the captaincy in just his second season. The Winnipeg native received votes for the Selke Trophy each season since 2008-2009. Toews shows instances of being a flashy player, but his true value comes from his ability to inspire teammates on both ends of the ice.
Right-Wing: Patrick Kane
Jonathan Toews is a bit of a “hard hat and lunch pail” kind of player. But that doesn’t mean the Blackhawks lack a flashy star. The spectacular nature of Patrick Kane‘s game is even reflected in his nickname: “Showtime”
Patrick Kane stars for the Blackhawks as one of the most exciting players in the NHL to this day. Chicago drafted Kane with the first overall pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft and he has blossomed into one of the best offensive threats of this generation. Kane puts up points at an absurd pace, tallying 1022 points in 973 games thus far. This scoring pushed Kane to be the fastest American player to 1000 career points earlier this year. Kane racks up awards as frequently as he does points. Kane has been awarded the Calder, Hart, Pearson, Ross and Conn Smythe trophy.
The skilled winger is one of the most exciting players in the league and is easily the best right-wing the Blackhawks have employed over the last decade.
Right-Defence: Duncan Keith
Any new hockey fans may be surprised to learn that Duncan Keith was one of the most dominant defenceman in NHL history at one point this decade. From 2010-2017, Keith wracked up points, minutes, awards and Stanley Cup rings. The defender received votes for the Norris Trophy in each of those seasons, winning it twice. Keith was honoured with the Conn Smythe award in 2015 as the most valuable player of that year’s Stanley Cup.
That 2015 postseason, more than any other point in his career, personified what made Duncan Keith such a special player. The defender led the Stanley Cup Playoffs in assists with 18 in 23 games, as well as registering a playoff-best +16 plus/minus. But the defining number of Keith’s playoffs had nothing to do with points. 31:07 average time on ice. Keith played more than half of the minutes that contributed to the Blackhawk’s third and final Stanley Cup win of the decade.
Crunching minutes became the hallmark of Keith’s game, but it also may be a contributing factor as to why he has experienced a drop off in recent years. There may not be much more tread left on the tires, but Duncan Keith achieved a peak that few others have.
Left-Defence: Brent Seabrook
Duncan Keith’s most consistent partner during this time is much less flashy, but still an important piece. Brent Seabrook spent most of his career as a durable, tough and defensive-minded player. Seabrook’s rookie season was the last time the defender played less than 78 games (besides the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season) and, until the last couple of years, he has always been a solid contributor.
His scoring peak came in 2015-2016 when Seabrook put up 49 points. The steady defender never won a major award, and at this point is one of the worst contracts in the league when you consider production. That being said, the Blackhawks rewarded Seabrook for his years of stability, and he returned this favour with multiple Stanley Cups.
Goaltender: Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford is the lone player on this team that did not suit up for three Stanley Cup runs. His contributions, however, can not be overlooked. Corey Crawford was drafted all the way back in 2003. The Blackhawks drafted the goaltender with the 52nd pick in that draft. The second-round pedigree did not initially work out for Crawford as he only found his way into 8 NHL games through the 2009-2010 season.
The next season, however, Crawford finally received his chance. The Blackhawks did not re-sign either of their goaltenders from the previous season (Antti Niemi and Cristobal Huet). This put Crawford in the starting position for the first time in his NHL career. He proved up to the task, registering a .917 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average. This earned him enough votes for fourth-place in the Calder Trophy race.
Crawford still serves as the Blackhawks primary goaltender and was enjoying a bounce-back season of sorts after a few injury-ridden years. The Montreal native backstopped the Blackhawks during their 2013 and 2015 championship bids, making him an easy choice for their goalie of the decade.
Chicago Blackhawks Decade Honourable Mentions
It is a testament to the quality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ roster that a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer (Marian Hossa) and another player that may be well on his way (Artemi Panarin) could not make the cut. While they could not be included, both players are stars that deserve recognition.
Marian Hossa arrived in Chicago prior to the 2009-2010 season after consecutive failed Stanley Cup Runs. Hossa was joining a Blackhawks team that his Red Wings team had defeated the prior year in the Western Conference Finals. Chicago was a young and talented, but had yet to fully convert on that promise. Hossa proved to be the key addition needed to get over the hump. The right-winger scored 24 goals and added 27 assists for 51 points in 57 games in his first season in Chicago. Then Chicago would win their first Stanley Cup of the decade. Hossa is one of the six players (Hossa, Kane, Toews, Keith, Sharp and Seabrook) that made up the core of the Blackhawks for all three of their cup runs.
Artemi Panarin should be considered a better player than the one that beat him out for the spot on this list. Sharp, however, was a far more important player for the Chicago squad over the entirety of the last decade. Panarin only played two seasons for the Blackhawks, winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie year. He followed that performance up with 74 points in 82 games. He looked to be part of a new Chicago core that could reload and compete for championships once again.
Before this could happen, however, Panarin was shipped to Columbus for Brandon Saad in a trade that is a solid contender for worst trade by an NHL team this decade. Panarin continued his trajectory towards being a superstar in Columbus and cashed in. He inked a deal with the New York Rangers last offseason. Everything considered things worked out in the long run for Panarin. That being said, he just misses out on this list.
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