Blackhawks History 101: The #12

Photo courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

What else would I talk about on 12/12/12 but those who wore the #12 Indian Head sweater throughout the years?

One of the first Blackhawks to wear the number 12 in the "modern era" was Gus Bodnar, who played in Chicago from 1947 until 1954. Bodnar won the Calder trophy in 1944 while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Hawks acquired Bodnar, along with Bud Poile, Gaye Stewart, Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham for Max Bentley and Cy Thomas in November of 1947. He was an All Star for the Hawks in 1951 when he scored 14 goals and added 26 assists. He had a grand total of 229 points (96 G, 133 A) in 399 regular season games in Chicago. His numbers could be compared to modern day players like Ruslan Fedotenko and Daniel Cleary. Bodnar was traded to the Boston Bruins for Jerry Toppazzini in February of 1954.

Ed Litzenberger was the next to wear number 12 after he was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for cash in December of 1954. Litzenberger accomplished a very rare feat that year by winning the Calder trophy while splitting the season between Montreal and Chicago. Ed was a four time All Star for the Hawks during the late 1950's. He had three straight 30 plus goal seasons between 1956 and 1959 with 32, 32 and a career high 33 goals respectively. He finished his Hawks career with 344 points (145 G, 199 A) in 438 games. He could be compared to Michael Nylander and Brian Rolston of today's NHL. Litzenberger was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Gerry Melnyk and Brian Smith shortly after winning the Stanley Cup in 1961.

Defenseman Pat Stapleton wore number 12 from 1965 until 1973. Stapleton was a four time All Star for the Blackhawks. He was a defensman who was a play maker from the blue line. He finished his career with 296 career assists and averaged nearly 36 a season while in Chicago. His career high came in 68-69 when he racked up 50 assists. He also contributed 49 points (10 G, 39 A) in 65 career playoff games for the Hawks. Pat's son Mike Stapleton also wore 12 in the late 80's with the Blackhawks. Mike was a bottom 6 center who was not the same type of player his father was.

Ivan Boldirev wore number 12 during his time in Chicago from 1974 to 1979. The Hawks acquired Boldirev from the Calinfornia Golden Seals for Len Frig and Mike Christie in the spring of 74. Ivan scored 140 of his 361 career goals while playing for the Blackhawks. He scored a career high 35 goals during the 77-78 season. He put up decent regular season numbers but never really showed much in the post season. He only scored four goals in 18 playoff games for the Hawks. Boldirev was traded to the Atlanta Flames with Phil Russell and Darcy Rota for Tom Lysiak, Pat Ribble, Greg Fox, Harold Phillipoff and Miles Zaharko in March of 1979.

Tom Lysiak was a huge fan favorite and won the Calder Trophy for the Flames in 1974. In fact, he lead Atlanta in scoring in each of five seasons with the team before being shipped to Chicago. The eight player deal was the largest trade in NHL history when it was made. Lysiak might be best known for getting a 20 game suspension for tripping linesman Ron Foyt during a game against the Hartford Whalers in 1983. He finished his Blackhawks career with 412 points (137 G, 275 A) in 474 regular season games. Lysiak had 56 points (23 G, 33 A) in 65 career playoff games as well. There is a woman who sits in my section at the United Center that still rocks her original Lysiak Hawks sweater to games!

Two members of the famous Sutter family wore number 12. Duane wore it for two of his three seasons in Chicago. Later on, his brother Brent wore 12 from 1991 until 1998. Duane's best years were with the New York Islanders were he helped the franchise win four Stanley Cups. Brent was acquired from the same Islanders with Brad Lauer for Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas right after the start of the 1991 season. Brent put up an amazing 102 points in 84-85 on Long Island but never came close to that point output in Chicago. He did score 20 goals in his first full season with the Hawks in 89-90.

Some other notable names to wear number 12, at one point or another, include Paul Gillis, JP Dumont, Tom Fitzgerald, Scott Nichol, Peter Bondra and Rene Bourque. Kyle Beach could be the next notable player to make a splash in the 12 sweater if he ever reaches his potential. He would have to have surgery to permanently remove his head from his ass before that can happen!

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