So, now that most of the silliness is over, and with August approaching, maybe it's time to start getting excited for this season. I say that, because, for some unknown reason, it dawned on me today that this very well could be the best Hawks team of my lifetime. I know that's a big statement, but it's a small window (for those who need to know, I'm in my late 20's, though have a maturity level of a 13 year old, as you've probably noticed by now).
The contenders, for those of my age, would be the 1991 President's Trophy winning team, and probably the '95 lockout year team that eventually bit it in the Conference Final to an absolutely loaded Scum (sounds eerily familiar). I can't include some of the '80s teams, as I was a bit young, and also that was a 21-team NHL and loading up talent wasn't quite as hard. Clearly, now is a different era as well (the late 90's was a totally different era than the early 90's, for you Boers and Bernstein fans), but it's easier to compare with those two teams.
Although I'd like to make the argument that the '95 team was better, they still eventually were only on pace for 90 points over a full season, though a lot of that is due to Roenick having an unfortunate encounter with Derian Hatcher's knee, so we'll try and compare them to both if we can here.
The 1991 team lined up like this, for the most part:
Steve Thomas-Adam Creighton (Judd Sirott just had a stroke)- Wayne Presley
Greg Gilbert-Troy Murray-Dirk Graham
Peluso/Grim Reaper-Mike Hudson-Jocelyn Lemieux
Bob McGill-Keith Brown
With Belfour in net. Now, I don't know that these were the exact lines or not, but this is who played the majority of games. Looking at that forward crop, it's a wonder that this team racked up 106 points. There's one line of scoring, with Stumpy to boot. Lots of toughness for sure, but the Hawks forward line with Eager, Burish, Madden, and Ladd now is not short on grit, at least for these days. Decidedly, the 09-10 Hawks match up at forward. On the blue line, well, the Hawks don't have anything close to Chelios and Wilson at the top, but on the lower pairings, I remember watching Bob McGill and Keith Brown, and it usually caused brain bubbles. 1-6, the current Hawks are just as solid, without having the peak at the top. The big difference is obviously between the pipes, because Belfour was stellar on this season, and there are big questions around Huet. Still, I think the current crop matches up quite well with this one.
The 1995 Hawks:
Steve Smith-Eric Weinrich
Keith Carney-Cam Russel
With Belfour in net again. God, this team looks pretty good, though old. Two very solid scoring lines here, in fact Nicholls was amongst the season scoring leaders for a while. Savard also played out of his mind when he was reacquired, and single-handedly destroyed the Leafs in the first round. The Top-4 on the backend was pretty solid as well, Weinrich was very underrated. Again, this team has a decided edge in goal, but elsewhere? Hard to say. This version comes close to matching the scoring depth this year's Hawks will trot out, but I don't see where there's someone like Versteeg on this third line (though the EA sports version of Patrck Poulin would have been. For some reason, in video game form he was ridiculous). As for the d-men, well, the top two pairs trump the curren top two pair. so there's a decided advantage there. Carney was very solid, so he's probably a push with Barker, though two totally different players.
So, to conclude, well, I don't know. But I don't see why this team can't become the best my generation has ever seen. Anyway, a stupid debate to fill your summer day.