Things around here are really slow, so let's have some fun. I've been watching some classic goals, fights, and game clips on YouTube lately in order to fill my NHL void. In all of the public bickering that's been going on and my own general disdain for the league right now, it's been easy to forget just how much I've loved this team for the last 20 years of my life. So, let's all name our top 5 favorite Blackhawks and why we still love them!
1. Jeremy Roenick
He was the total package. In my opinion there hasn't been a more entertaining hockey player to put on the Blackhawks sweater since. JR stood out from every other player on the ice in the first Blackhawks game I ever watched. From that moment on, I was hooked! I'll never forget him leaving the game with the help of the trainer after getting knocked unconscious on the ice and breaking his jaw for the first time. One week later, he returned and had a multi-point night against Boston. He played with that jaw piece of his helmet and it didn't change his game at all. He was still reckless. He still threw punishing hits. And I recall him going after Rob Pearson in a game with the Blues at the UC after Pearson had hit Chelios from behind. Roenick was the first to respond, and took a shot to his surgically repaired jaw and still stood in there and pushed back. Heart, excitement, and Chicago through and through. That's what JR was to me!
2. Ed Belfour
Eddie will always be a Blackhawk to me. In one word -- he was fire! He was competitive, and don't you dare get near his crease. Perhaps the most entertaining goaltender we've ever seen in Chicago. I was crushed when we traded him, especially for such an underwhelming return. No offense to Jeff Hackett, whom I liked, but Eddie was always the better goaltender. Wirtz broke up what could've been a Stanley Cup winner because... well, it doesn't need to be said. We all know.
3. Bob Probert
Bob was a great man and few knew it. Did you know that he made trips to visit soldiers in Afghanistan? Or that he anonymously paid for a young boy from Los Angeles to have a life-saving surgery? His 1995-96 season was one of the best of his career. Probert scored 19 goals that year, including 3 game-winners. It was nothing short of shameful how the Blackhawks treated him at the end. Bob deserved better than that.
4. Jonathan Toews
Can't have this list without the first Blackhawk to touch the Stanley Cup in almost 50 years. He's meant more to this organization than any other player in that time span as well. He's no doubt one of the very best captains in the game, and I believe by his career's end he'll be the single greatest captain in Blackhawks history, and have multiple Stanley Cups to his resume as well.
5. Tuomo Ruutu
Yes, Tuomo Ruutu. He gave us hope. Before there was Toews or Kane, there was Ruutu. The second half of his rookie year was so much fun to watch, and it inspired hope that things were going to change. Even though he was never able to keep that momentum going, I believe he was the guy who began to change the culture of the fans to believe that something better was in our future. For that reason, I'll always remember Ruutu fondly.