Throughout the year, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the National Hockey League (NHL), discovering the best and worst each team has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink based off the franchise. Today, we travel to the Windy City and look at the long history of the Chicago Blackhawks. A past so extensive, for a time, they were the Chicago Black Hawks:
Establishment Story: Chicago is one of the NHL’s Original Six franchises, founded in 1926. The team’s name came from owner Frederic McLaughlin, who was a commander of the Blackhawk Division (named after Black Hawk, a notable Sauk nation figure in Illinois) during World War I. The original team was comprised of players from the Portland Rosebuds of the Western Hockey League, which had been purchased for $100,000.
Stanley Cups: The Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cups, including three from their dynasty era (2010, 2013 and 2015), which followed an almost 50-year drought. Their other titles came in 1934, 1938 and 1961. The Blackhawks have appeared in a total of 13 Stanley Cup Finals, failing to win the championship on seven occasions, five losses coming at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
Celebrity Fan: Vince Vaughn, star of movies such as Old School, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and Wedding Crashers, grew up in Illinois and has been a long-time fan of the Blackhawks. One Vaughn film, The Dilemma, sees him at a Blackhawks game, cheering the team on. It probably wasn’t a hard scene to shoot, as Vaughn can often be spotted at Blackhawks games, when his schedule allows.
Super Fan: Bob Gertenrich started attending Blackhawks games all the way back in 1966. He then went on to attend every home game for a 50-year plus span, catching over 2,000 contests. Gertenrich’s dedication was best shown when he still made a game hours after his mother had died. His original seat, at the old Chicago Stadium, cost $2.50. In 2016, as he hit his 50th anniversary, the seat price had shot up to $90.
Mascot: Tommy Hawk is a black hawk, who debuted for the team in the 2001-02 season. He is described as a “featherweight”, whose favourite foods consist of Roasted Duck, Pickled Penguin, Coyote Burgers and Buffalo Wings. Tommy Hawk was made a Mascot Hall of Fame member in 2019, becoming the first NHL mascot to be inducted into this exclusive club.
Tradition: Two songs have become greatly associated with the team. First, Here Come the Hawks (produced in 1968) is their official anthem, played prior to games and at the end of periods. Second, Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis, became the Blackhawks goal song during the 2008-09 season and remains so to this day. The song still haunts fans of teams the dynasty era squad defeated.
Appearances in Media: The movie Wayne’s World, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, is set in Aurora, Illinois. Therefore, a number of Blackhawks references are included in the film, such as Wayne and Garth decked out in Blackhawks gear for the memorable street hockey scene and a number of scenes taking place at the fictional Stan Mikita’s Donuts. The Blackhawks are also featured heavily in the movie Sudden Death.
Events/Scandals: In 2021, a lawsuit was filed against the Blackhawks by former player Kyle Beach, alleging sexual assault in 2010 by former video coach Brad Aldrich. While the Blackhawks settled Beach’s lawsuit, the fallout from the scandal also included GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville (with the Florida Panthers) resigning from their positions, based on them not reporting the assault to higher authorities.
Rivalry: The Blackhawks greatest rivals are the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. Both teams joined the Blackhawks in the Norris Division and later Central Division, before Detroit was moved to the Eastern Conference in 2013. Games between the Blackhawks and both adversaries were typically fight-filled affairs, with the action often spilling into the stands and fans brawling with each other.
Tragedy: Charlie Gardiner played with the Blackhawks from 1927 to 1934. For the last couple seasons of his career and life, Gardiner battled a tonsillar infection, which caused him great pain and high fevers. Untreated, the infection eventually claimed Gardiner’s life on June 13, 1934, as he suffered a brain hemorrhage. Gardiner won two Vezina Trophies and one Stanley Cup. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame for its inaugural 1945 class.
Player Nicknames: Glenn Hall played the majority of his NHL career with the Blackhawks, earning the moniker Mr. Goalie. Hall popularized the butterfly style of goaltending over 502 consecutive complete games, a record which will never be broken, and he did it all while not wearing a mask. Another great nickname from Blackhawks lore is Chairman of the Boards, given to defenseman Doug Jarrett for his physical play.
Line: Among the Blackhawks most memorable trios are the Party Line (Steve Larmer, Denis Savard and Al Secord), Million Dollar Line (Bobby Hull, Murray Balfour and Bill Hay), Pony Line (Max Bentley, Doug Bentley and Bill Mosienko), Scooter Line (Doug Mohns, Stan Mikita and Ken Wharram), Hustle and Flow Line (Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane), and Clydesdale Line (Ed Olczyk, Troy Murray and Curt Fraser).
Captain: Jonathan Toews, nicknamed Captain Serious, has been the Blackhawks captain since 2008, his sophomore NHL campaign. He is among the youngest to ever be named a team captain and led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in six seasons (2010-15). Toews leadership has also been on display at the international level, as he’s won World Junior Championship, World Championship and Olympics gold.
Enforcer: The Blackhawks have a long history of tough players, including Al Secord (92 fights), Chris Chelios (franchise leader for career penalty minutes), Keith Magnuson (second on franchise penalty minutes list) and Mike Peluso (single-season record for penalty minutes at 408). The Blackhawks also employed pugilist legends such as Bob Probert, Stu Grimson and Dave Manson at points during their respective careers.
Family Values: Brothers Bobby and Dennis Hull starred for the Blackhawks together from 1966 to 1972, where they were nicknamed the Golden Jet and Silver Jet, respectively. Today, Seth and Caleb Jones patrol the Blackhawks blueline together. According to Wikipedia, the Blackhawks have the most all-time family connections, between brothers, fathers and sons, cousins and uncles and nephews.
Returning Players: Surprisingly passed over by his hometown Montreal Canadiens in the 1980 NHL draft, Denis Savard fell to the Blackhawks at third overall, becoming a legend in Chicago. He was traded to the Canadiens in 1990, but returned to the Blackhawks in a 1995 trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Savard would retire with Chicago in 1997, moving into a coaching role. He would serve as Blackhawks head coach from 2006 to 2008 and remains an ambassador with the club.
Short Stint: Often talked about as one of the greatest players to ever lace their skates, Bobby Orr played the final 26 games (over three seasons) of his NHL career with the Blackhawks, as he tried to overcome serious knee injuries. He had been signed by Chicago to a five-year, $3 million contract in 1976. The three-year waiting period for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame was waived for Orr, making him the youngest ever enshrined, at 31 years old.
Undrafted: Ed Belfour created a Hall of Fame career for himself, despite not having his name called by any teams while draft eligible. Belfour signed with the Blackhawks in 1987, becoming the starting goalie in 1990-91 and winning the Calder Trophy as top rookie. Belfour was traded from Chicago in 1997, after turning down a contract extension. He would play until 2007, winning the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999.
Trade: The Blackhawks best and worst trades of all-time involve Hall of Fame legends. On the plus side, they scooped up a young Glenn Hall in 1957, who would backstop the team to their 1961 Stanley Cup. On the flip side, they shipped out budding star Phil Esposito in 1967 and watched him become the first player to ever reach the 100-point plateau in a season and lead the league in goal scoring six straight campaigns.
Signing: When Marian Hossa was signed by the Blackhawks in 2009, he was coming off back-to-back losing appearances with different teams in the Stanley Cup Finals. Hossa would again find himself in the Finals, this time on the winning side. Two more championships were in Hossa’s future, as he played eight seasons of his 12-year, $62.8 million deal, before retiring due to a skin disorder.
Draft Pick: Despite their long history, the Blackhawks have only selected first overall once, taking Patrick Kane in 2007. They’ve done well at third overall, landing Denis Savard (1980), Ed Olczyk (1984) and Jonathan Toews (2006) at that spot. Doug Wilson (6th overall in 1977) and Jeremy Roenick (8th overall in 1988) were also very strong picks. The Hawks biggest draft flub was selecting Cam Barker third overall in 2004.
Holdouts: When Blackhawks star Steve Larmer began a contract dispute with the team, many assumed he wouldn’t actually miss any games, as he was chasing the NHL iron man record of 964 consecutive games at the time. Sitting at 884 games, all with Chicago, Larmer wasn’t bluffing, missing his first action in a decade. Larmer was later traded to the Hartford Whalers, then flipped to the New York Rangers, where he’d win a Stanley Cup.
Buyouts: The Blackhawks have a relatively clean buyout history. Their most notable buyout season came in 2013, when the team parted ways with both Steve Montador (two years remaining on contract) and Rostislav Olesz (one year remaining on contract). This cost the Blackhawks $5.56 million. Montador played some games in Russia, before retiring, while Olesz played 10 games for the New Jersey Devils, followed by multiple seasons in his native Czech Republic.
Unique Game: Thanks to their run as one of the best teams in the NHL through the 2010s, the Blackhawks were summoned to take part in a number of the league’s specialty games. This included the 2009 Winter Classic vs. Detroit Red Wings, 2014 Stadium Series vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 2015 Winter Classic vs. Washington Capitals, 2016 Stadium Series vs. Minnesota Wild, 2017 Winter Classic vs. St. Louis Blues, and 2019 Winter Classic vs. Boston Bruins.
Goal: Patrick Kane has lived up to his nickname of Showtime on many occasions, playing his best in the most important moments. This included scoring the overtime Game 6 winner of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals versus the Philadelphia Flyers, ending a 49-year championship drought for the Blackhawks. Another important marker in team history was Bobby Hull breaking the single-season scoring record in 1966, potting his 51st of the campaign.
Fight/Brawl: St. Patrick’s Day festivities have been known to get out of hand from time to time, even on the ice. When the Blackhawks faced the rival St. Louis Blues on March 17, 1991, the contest erupted into a series of brawls, resulting in a combined 276 penalty minutes being handed out. While Chicago won 6-4, nobody remembers the game for its score. It’s simply known as the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre.
Injury: While perhaps not the most serious injury in Blackhawks history, Steve Sullivan getting hit in the face with a high stick was memorable for what occurred afterwards. As Sullivan tended to the cut on the bridge of his nose, a Colorado Avalanche fan heckled him. Karma played a role in Sullivan’s revenge, as later, the puck flew into the stands, hitting the same guy who jeered Sullivan… and Sullivan made sure to chirp the fan.
Penalty: On October 30, 1983, Blackhawks center Tom Lysiak tripped linesman Ron Foyt, frustrated by the official repeatedly throwing him out of faceoffs. Lysiak’s punishment was a 20-game suspension, which was appealed, but upheld. Legend has it, if the ban had been reduced or rescinded, NHL officials would have staged a walkout. It should also be noted David Koci set the record for most penalty minutes in an NHL debut, with 42 (three fights) on March 10, 2007.
Wildest Story: On March 29, 2018, accountant Scott Foster became the first emergency backup goalie to stop a shot in an NHL game. Not only did he stop one shot, Foster went a perfect seven-for-seven, securing a 6-2 win for the Blackhawks. Since Foster was signed to an amateur tryout contract, he was not paid for the work, but became a Chicago sports legend, even presenting a trophy at the 2018 NHL Awards.
Blooper: Some gaffes occur off the ice, rather than on it. For the Blackhawks, a mistake in filing restricted free agent (RFA) qualifying offers in 2009, resulted in eight players (Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Corey Crawford, Troy Brouwer, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson, Bryan Bickell) becoming unrestricted free agents. The Blackhawks then rushed to sign the players, some for deals higher than they would have been as RFAs.
Miscellaneous: Despite being one of the most iconic logos in hockey, if not all of sports, the Blackhawks emblem, as well as name, have come under scrutiny because of their association to indigenous civil rights movements. While teams like the Cleveland Indians (MLB) and Washington Redskins (NFL) have been renamed, the Blackhawks remain unchanged, saying they are honouring the legacy of Black Hawk with their name and logo.
Chicago Blackhawks: Madhouse Mule
- 2.5 oz Fireball Whiskey
- Top with Ginger Beer
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Wheel
This drink is named for the Madhouse on Madison, where the Blackhawks have played since 1929. The term has been used for both the Chicago Stadium and the United Center. The nickname ‘Madhouse’ was earned because of how the Chicago Stadium’s acoustics created a roaring sound, which was replicated, as best as possible, for the United Center.