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NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Top Five Moments in 2012

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The Chicago Blackhawks in 2012

stick salute
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

What a year the Chicago Blackhawks have had. It was a season ups and downs, highs and lows, dark times and celebrations. Where should we start?

It began with Daniel Carcillo’s stupid move that took him out with a season-ending knee injury. Maybe that was an omen of what was to come, because a few weeks later came the start of a very low point when fans wondered if the team would ever see daylight. They emerged from the tunnel with renewed hope, and even though they stumbled at times, they actually made the playoffs on their own, compared to needing the Minnesota Wild’s help in 2011 to squeak into the last available spot. Even though they lost in the quarterfinals, no one can fault them for fighting with everything they had.

Their play started strong in 2011 but began to waiver at the beginning of 2012. Without Brian Campbell, who’d been traded to the Florida Panthers, the defense was shaky, and the power play was simply abysmal, with their unscored power plays easily soaring into double digits. On top of those woes was their trouble in net, with Corey Crawford and Ray Emery frequently rotating. It never failed: one would have a hot streak, falter for a few games, then switch out with the other, who would have his own winning ways for a while. Then the cycle would repeat.

Their summer was relatively quiet, with only one free agent signing in Sheldon Brookbank and drafting a good crop of prospects, and that proved frustrating because of the call for fresh blood to invigorate the team. Familiar faces like Carcillo, Emery and Jamal Mayers were re-signed, and midseason trade Johnny Oduya was also given an extension.

There were a lot of moments for the Blackhawks, but I’ve picked the five most noteworthy ones – yes, even the most ominous one of all. I know that once they’re back on the ice, the team will create more moments that will make fans laugh, cry and love them as always.

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Teuvo Teravainen Drafted

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

June 22, 2012

Almost every hockey pundit thought that Teuvo Teravainen would be in the top five draft picks for 2012, but as the top five came and went, people wondered where he would go. Leave it to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman to use their 18th overall pick and take the scrappy Finn, whose small build and playing style are reminiscent of one of his idols, Patrick Kane. He impressed at Prospect Camp in July, but a busy schedule of tournaments wore him down and left him less than prepared for his return to play in Finland. He can only improve after participating in the World Junior Championship and could play in North America next season.

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Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

January 28, 2012

In the midst of a frustrating, low-scoring season, Patrick Kane needed what you could call an “Emergency Puppy” moment – a dose of fluff and happiness to take his mind off his troubles. That came during the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend. During the Breakaway Challenge and with the help of teammate Marian Hossa, Kane donned a cape and black-rimmed glasses to become Clark Kent and Superman rolled into one hockey player. He “flew” across the ice, slipping the puck past goalie Brian Elliott, and won the competition. Even if it lasted one night, all was right in his world.

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The Losing Streak Ends

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

February 16, 2012

It had been a very dark period in Chicago that began shortly before the All-Star break. The toll was enormous: a record nine losses in a row, frustrated fans and calls for Corey Crawford’s trade and even for coach Joel Quenneville to be fired. But the end finally came with the Hawks’ road game against the New York Rangers, which culminated in a 4-2 win. It was later revealed that Jonathan Toews had been playing with a concussion during that losing streak, and two days after the game he was benched for the rest of the season.

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Jonathan Toews Returns

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

April 12, 2012

On February 19th, Jonathan Toews didn’t play. After a few games without him, fans were told why he was absent: he’d suffered a concussion on February 10, and he’d played five games while trying to fight off symptoms. His return during the regular season was highly unlikely, and every setback made everyone cringe. But when the announcement came toward the end of the season that he’d been medically cleared, the countdown began for his return, which came in the first game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes. In his first period back, he promptly scored the game’s first goal.

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The Infamous Hit

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

April 17, 2012

Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals is a game which Blackhawks fans would like to forget.

In the first period, in open ice, Raffi Torres brutally hit Marian Hossa, leaving Hossa prone on the ice and taken away on a stretcher. Torres wasn’t charged with any penalties, and the anger that burned in Hossa’s teammates boiled over during the game. A few days later, Torres received one of the biggest suspensions in NHL history: 25 games for leaving his feet, targeting the head and hitting Hossa after the puck had been played. That, coupled with Torres’ prior record of five suspensions, justified the number, but Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney downplayed the hit while Coyotes fans attended home games with signs foolishly declaring “Free Raffi”. Later in the summer, commissioner Gary Bettman reduced the suspension to 21 games.

After spending the summer slowly recovering, Hossa has been cleared and is ready to play. Meanwhile, Torres served the bulk of his suspension during the playoffs and has only to sit out eight games when play resumes. Will he take the Matt Cooke route and change his ways? I’ll believe it when I see it, and even then I’ll be skeptical.

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