Buying the sweater of your favorite Chicago Blackhawks player can be tricky business. Anyone who bought a Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw or Teuvo Teravainen jersey in the past couple years knows that well. You spent like $175 on the jersey of a current Blue Jacket, Hab or Hurricane. It’s probably not what you had in mind.
So with the 2016-17 season right around corner, we might as well look at which Blackhawks sweaters are definitely worth buying, and which you might want to avoid. Obviously this is subjective — if you REALLY want a Brandon Mashinter jersey, don’t let anyone crush your dreams — but I feel like someone needs to be there to remind everyone to probably wait a few months before buying that Artemi Panarin sweater.
Also, one last aside: none of these recommendations are for the green “St. Patrick’s Day” jerseys. I’d rather see someone rocking a red-and-black Jordin Tootoo sweater than try to understand why people keep buying ugly green jerseys from a team that offers such fantastic primary digs. We have good options.
Let’s get to it.
Need an explanation? He’s the captain, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and one of the most talented, respected players of his generation. He’s likable off the ice, too, especially as he shows more of himself on social media. Toews might be too boring a choice for some, but it’s also the safest one, like ordering pizza.
A pair of stellar Blackhawks defenders who play with incredible intensity and don’t sound like they’ll be leaving anytime soon. Keith is obviously signed much longer than Hjammer, but if you opted for the Swede, you’ll get bonus points for picking the guy who doesn’t score as often.
He’s Marian Hossa. He’s got a contract that means he’ll never be traded. He’s Marian Hossa. He loves pierogis. He’s Marian Hossa. Sold.
The elephant in the room
There’s no way to talk about buying a Patrick Kane sweater without bringing up his history off the ice. You’ve probably already shaped your opinions on last year’s sexual assault accusation. Does that mean you’re comfortable wearing the No. 88 even though it might make others around you uncomfortable? I don’t know about each of you, but I know that personally it’s not for me. There are too many other sweaters to buy that don’t come with an asterisk of this nature, even for a reigning MVP like Kane. He’s also the No. 2-selling jersey on NHL.com behind Toews, so clearly it hasn’t stopped fans.
Good choice, but with caveats
Crawford is largely an awesome choice. You’ll also probably spend way too much time explaining to others why Crawford is an awesome choice.
Right now, Seabrook is a totally understandable selection. He’s a very good defenseman, a three-time Cup winner and an alternate captain. He’s also got a potentially brutal eight-year deal that could make him a punching bag for bad contract jokes in a few years (if he’s still around), so you might want to consider that when opting for Seabs over a guy like Keith or Hjammer.
He’s coming off a career-year with the Hawks and is about to start a six-year contract, so you can feel relatively safe about Anisimov for now. But as one of the few highly paid players on the team without a long-term NMC, he’s a potential trade option down the rode.
The caveat is that Campbell might leave or retire in a year, but he also won a Cup with the Hawks in 2010, so there’s a unique history here. Soupy’s Chicago jersey will hold up long past the end of his career, making this a reasonable purchase.
I’d buy them, but it’s risky
These are two of my favorite players in the entire organization. They’re also both set to hit free agency next summer, which is an easy way to feel burned when buying a sweater. Panarin’s jersey needs little explanation: He’s pure fire on the ice. Darling, on the other hand, is a backup goaltender. But he also has a remarkable story recovering from alcoholism and seems like a genuinely great guy. He’s got the best Twitter on the team, hands down. Darling is the kind of person I want to support, so I’m down for buying his jersey, even if he’s a minor player who might sign elsewhere next year.
The young and risky choices
Some of these guys will likely become long-term contributors starting this season, but you’re taking a gamble guessing who will pull that off. And as we saw with Saad, Teravainen and Shaw, young players can get shipped out even if they’re good enough to factor into plans. There might be some kind of value to getting on the Gustav Forsling bandwagon before everyone, like when you found that awesome band in high school before they blew up on the radio (or Spotify now, I suppose), but there’s also a decent chance you’re bragging to your friends about finding a one-hit (or no-hit) wonder.
I mean, you can, I guess
Trevor van Riemsdyk
Most, if not all, of these guys will be on the Hawks’ opening night roster. There’s also a decent chance that exactly zero of them are on the team in 2017-18, although Kruger and TVR will still be under contract. And I love Kruger, but picking the guy who didn’t score a goal last season isn’t my style. Some of these choices would be weirder than others — do they even sell Tootoo Hawks jerseys? — but in general, I’m going to assume you have a lot of expendable income if you’re buying someone from this group. So hey, way to go.