Another year has past and ended in the best way possible for the Chicago Blackhawks, with another Stanley Cup banner hung in the United Center rafters.
Some of the Second City Hockey staff members wrote down their top 15 Blackhawks moments in 2015. We each viewed the year and what a "moment" meant differently. That's a good thing. This post is meant to reflect on what a wild ride this year has been for the Blackhawks.
|15||Hawks 3-2 loss in Winter Classic|
|14||Hawks clinch playoff spot for seventh straight year|
|13||Arrival and play of Artemi Panarin|
|12||4-3 win in Winnipeg in late March|
|11||Kane injury. Subsequent use of LTIR to acquire Antoine Vermette|
|10||Toews two late goals in Buffalo in April|
|9||Nashville three-goal comeback Game 1 of first-round|
|7||Rozsival injury against Wild in Game 4 of second-round|
|6||Teuvo's coming out part in Game 1 Of Stanley Cup Final|
|5||Hawks hold off Lightning's Game 4 rally|
|4||Sharp, Oduya, Saad trades and departures signaling new core|
|3||Vermette's Western Conference Final Game 4 goal|
|2||Kane sexual assault investigation|
|1||Hawks win Stanley Cup|
2015 has been a weird and transformative year for myself and the Chicago Blackhawks. That of course reflects on my list in some places. While the Blackhawks enjoyed a dream playoff run, they also had a sexual assault investigation into one of their franchise players cloud the team for more than three months. The immediate glow of the Stanley Cup victory was the biggest moment of 2015 by far, but things like the Kane investigation and departures of long time stalwarts like Patrick Sharp did put a bit of a damper on celebrations, at least in my mind.
This has been a monumental year for the Blackhawks franchise in positive and negative ways and at least in my opinion we can't ignore that fact. Beyond that though, my family went through a lot of transformation and adversity this past year and I think in a lot of ways the most recent Stanley Cup helped us through it. That goes to show you the power and unifying factor of sports. Such an invested playoff run can almost make you forget everything that's swirling around you, for better or worse. One can't even count on two hands the countless unforgettable moments in a two month emotional fan period that mirrored our lives in many ways. Many people will have a similar story about this playoff run and I don't blame them. There are other stories like the emergence of Artemi Panarin and Scott Darling but nothing transcends the Stanley Cup victory. It was an odd 2015 for myself and the Chicago Blackhawks franchise as a whole.
|15||5 Hawks voted All-Stars|
|14||Scott Darling's redemption and success story|
|13||Corey Crawford winning share of Jennings Trophy|
|12||Brandon Saad trade return turns out to be huge|
|10||Teuvo's coming out party in playoffs|
|9||Panarin's instant success|
|8||Hawks sweep Minnesota in second round|
|6||Vermette 2OT goal in WCF Game 4|
|5||Kruger's 3OT goal in WCF Game 2|
|4||Kimmo Timmonen finally wins the Cup|
|3||Tuevo and Vermette steal SCF Game 1|
|2||Toews leads way as Hawks dominate WCF Game 7|
|1||Hawks win Stanley Cup|
I decided to take a bit more of a "best moments route for my list." 2015 has been a very good year for me in my personal life, as well as in my experience as a Blackhawks fan. As I wrote in a piece this past summer, the 2015 Blackhawks championship team was my favorite to watch and cheer for. But more than just the Cup victory, there have been so many other cool moments for the Blackhawks in the year of 2015, from the very beginning. With the Blackhawks opening the NHL's 2015 by participating in the Winter Classic, to five Blackhawks being voted into the All-Star Game, to the countless playoff moments that got us out of our chairs.
There have several other off the ice stories that have been huge as well, highlighted by the incredible success of Scott Darling after recovering from substance abuse issues. It hasn't all been good for the Blackhawks in 2015, but overall I believe this has been a great year for the Blackhawks.
|15||Steve Montador dies at 35; Daniel Carcillo establishes Chapter 5|
|14||Clint Reif's son gets the championship belt|
|13||Hawks sign KHL star free agent Artemi Panarin|
|12||Brent Seabrook gets an extension|
|11||Scott Darling's redemption story and play against Nashville in the playoffs|
|10||Hawks announce $50 million practice facility|
|9||Kruger's 3OT goal in WCF Game 2|
|8||Vermette's 2OT goal in WFC Game 4|
|7||Duncan Keith's incredible playoff run|
|6||Hawks win WCF Game 6 in Chicago when facing elimination|
|5||Hawks offseason trades (Saad, Sharp, Oduya, Johns, Versteeg and Nordstrom)|
|3||Kane's broken clavicle puts him on LTIR giving the Hawks extra cap space for key role player deals|
|2||Kane's sexual assault investigation|
|1||Hawks win Stanley Cup|
The Hawks started off 2015 in the worse way, a loss and an injury to Kris Versteeg. While Versteeg wasn't scoring in bunches, losing a player to injury is never a good thing. Once February hit, things started to roll until Feb. 25 when Patrick Kane broke his clavicle within the hour of the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose suffering yet another knee injury. Talk about a double whammy. But the Hawks put Kane on long-term injured reserve to free up some salary cap space to make key signings of Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins. Without those moves and Kane coming back healthy right as the playoffs begin, the Hawks wouldn't have hoisted the Cup.
There are a few moments on my list that I want to highlight. The Hawks $50 million practice facility shows a huge commitment to the game of hockey and the Chicago community. This organization is giving kids the opportunity to grow up playing the game. Most of us didn't even get to see games on TV.
Clint Reif, the Hawks assistant equipment manager, who committed suicide, was an instrumental part of the Hawks. Seeing Coach Q breakdown when talking about him showed how much he meant to the team. At the Hawks' rally, the team gave his son the championship belt. Watch it again -- here. Daniel Carcillo created Chapter 5, a not-for-profit organization designed to help former NHL players adjust to lift after their playing days are over. Carcillo developed it after the death of his close friend and teammate Steve Montador. Carcillo is doing something bigger than hockey here, and for that he makes the list and, in my mind, is one of the faces of hockey for 2015.
Here's to the Blackhawks making it an eighth straight year in the playoffs. From there, who knows what can happen.
Feel free to let us know your top moments in the comments!
Auld Lang Syne everyone! (Happy New Year)