Former Blackhawk of the Week: Steve Sullivan
Any mention of his name has to be followed by one of these two stories.
(Author’s note: It’s a day late this week, apologies on the delay. With hat tricks on the mind and inspired by last week’s subject being a former linemate of his, we present this week’s Former Blackhawk of the Week: Steve Sullivan.)
For a guy who was just 5-foot-9 and weighed 165 pounds, Steve Sullivan sure played a lot of hockey. In all, he appeared in 1,011 NHL games for seven different NHL teams, with the 370 times he suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks his highest number for one NHL team.
And Sullivan enjoyed the prime of his career during those five years with the Hawks, which started on October 23, 1999 when he was claimed on waivers by Chicago from Toronto, and ended on February 16, 2004, when he was traded to the Nashville Predators for two second-round picks which became Ryan Garlock and Michael Blunden. A successful trade, it was not.
Sullivan was the Hawks leading scorer twice and a runner-up in another season. He peaked with a 34-goal, 75-point 2000-01 season, but had at least 60 points in every season of his Chicago tenure. Sullivan’s career ended in 2013, and he’s now an assistant general manager for the Arizona Coyotes.
But Sullivan evokes memories of two stories which must be shared when his name is mentioned. The first one is inspired by Alex DeBrincat’s hat trick on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Sullivan had eight hat tricks in his career, two in Chicago, and one on a special Sunday afternoon in Chicago during the 2002-03 NHL season.
The Hawks hosted the Boston Bruins for a matinee at the United Center.
With the game taking place on March 9, green hats were dispersed to the fans in attendance. Sullivan scored twice in the first period during what turned out to be a high-scoring affair. By the second period, Chicago had built a 4-3 lead and, just as a Blackhawks power play ended, Sullivan stole the puck from Boston and ripped one past goaltender Steve Shields. The crowd responded by flooding the ice with the green hats they were given just a few hours earlier, prompting this conversation between ESPN commentators Gary Thorne and Bill Clement:
Thorne: “Well they’re going to get them all back to give out at the next game!”
Clement: “That’s cost-effective marketing!”
The Wirtz family special!
And then it was Eric Daze’s turn. Last week’s subject of this series didn’t score his first goal of the game until the second period. But on a day when goals were coming from everywhere, Daze was able to score twice more for a hat trick of his own, resulting in another steady stream of green hats onto the United Center ice. Sullivan and Daze become the first Blackhawk duo to record a hat trick in a game since Al Secord and Troy Murrary in a 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year’s Day in 1986.
Google/Getty/USA Today image searches for this game have yielded no results, so the best visual that I can present of this green hat party is a cellphone photo of the VHS recording I still have of this game:
It’s everything you dreamed of, isn’t it?
Chicago went on to win that game 8-5. Sidenote: Theo Fleury scored the first goal of that game for the Hawks after being placed on waivers by the team that morning. It was a strange season.
The second story involving Steve Sullivan is much briefer, with a YouTube video which shows everything that happened.
Sullivan gets karmic justice in Colorado
During a 2001 Blackhawks game on the road against the Colorado Avalanche, Sullivan took a high stick to the face in the second period that opened a cut above his nose. As Sullivan skated to the bench with blood trickling down his face, he overheard a fan heckling him from the front row, and faced up to the taunting fan before shouting a few words as Sullivan continued to the bench. He later scored two shorthanded goals in what ended up as a 5-2 Chicago loss, but Sullivan did get one small victory in the third period when Colorado goalie Patrick Roy shot a puck into the crowd and ... well, you’ll never guess who that puck hit:
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.