After winning two of the last four Stanley Cups, its easy to assume that the Chicago Blackhawks are used to being atop the NHL. However, the franchise isn’t that far removed from its dark days, and a slice of humble pie was cut up for the organization on Tuesday.
Chris Chelios is regarded as one of the best defenseman to ever skate, so not too many were surprised when it was announced that he was a part of the 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame class. Chelios will likely be remembered by most NHL fans as a Detroit Red Wings standout, yet the Blackhawks will always have respect for the great No. 7.
Chicago saw Chelios win two James Norris Trophies — the award given to the league’s top defenseman — while in town, but the postseason success just never came for the Blackhawks while the top-notch defender was in uniform. During his eight full seasons with Chicago, the Blackhawks made the postseason seven times, but they only reached the Stanley Cup Finals once and were swept by the Pittsbugh Penguins in the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.
It wasn’t until after Chelios left for Detroit when the wheels started to fall of in Chicago.
After dealing the Chicago native to the rival Red Wings in March of 1999, the Blackhawks wouldn’t reach the second round of the playoffs until 2009. So, dealing Chelios spearheaded a decade of futility and thus left a bad taste in the mouth of a weakened Blackhawks fan base.
Thankfully, Chicago caught a few lucky pucks along the way and are now considered the best team in the NHL, but it didn’t happen overnight. It came after years of last-place finishes.