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Friday, December 21, 2012

Children of Boredom

Ten Lesser Known Blackhawks of the 80s & 90s


Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, this is what the the Blackhawks blogsphere has been relegated to. Writing about barely significant Blackhawks of my childhood. Thanks, Fucktards.

AnyWHO, Considering I am almost a generation older than most of the current Blackhawks fans, I've seen some things. Excluding the early 90's and 2010, most of those things regarding the Blackhawks have been downright awful. So much so, that sometime around 2001, I stopped giving a fat rat's ass about the organization altogether. Some of that had to do with one person in particular, William W. Wirtz, and the rest had to do with the fact that they were just a complete joke of a franchise. I didn't have the time to devote to a franchise that didn't even respect for itself. They KNEW that Wirtz had run them into the ground, and could do nothing about it.

But I digress; I'm not here to go into a homicidal rage about Dollar Bill's rotting, worm infested, pickled carcass.

This is a fun little exercise to jog some of your minds, and introduce others to some of my personal favorites from the 80s and 90s.



Bob Sauve

This one is a given. I wrote about it on Second City Hockey, and reposted it here. Just click the link to see the story, because I hate repeating myself; unless it is about how right I am.
My First Blackhawks Hero - Bob Sauve



Rick Vaive

Sam Fels of The Committed Indian wrote a great piece on Vaive, back when they were still Second City Hockey, and I too was a big fan. He reminded me of RoboCop because of the amount of equipment he wore. He was a big body, with some silky mitts, that would park himself in front of the net and take massive amounts of abuse. He came with three 50 goal seasons already under his belt in Toronto.

When I say big body, I don't mean by today's standards. Six foot and 180 lbs isn't big at all, in today's NHL, but in 1987 that was large. He only played a season and a half for the Hawks, but he netted 61 goals in 111 games, including 49 total goals in his only full season with the organization.

He came to the Hawks, with Steve Thomas (featured later in this piece) and cementhead extraordinaire Bob McGill, in a trade for Al Secord and Eddie Olczyk. Some pretty notable names of the time.


Rob Brown

We now turn our attention to one of the most recent infamous Blackhawks, Rob Brown. Most of you have probably ready the Blog of Sean McIndoe, better known as DownGoesBrown on twitter. Well, that moniker refers specifically to an incident that happened to Brown while playing for the Hawks. Take a gander for yourself:



And here Brown himself discusses the fight.


Shenanigans aside, I was a closet Brown fan. First of all, who doesn't love a player wearing the number 44 (I know he briefly wore 22, also)? Second, He came to Chicago with a great deal of scoring potential. Brown was also one of the few players to play for both the Blackhawks and Wolves. Brownie was one of those players that would put up Gretzky like cartoonish numbers in the minors, but never really consistently reached those levels in the NHL. If you look at his stats, these point totals smack you in the face: 259, 212, 173, 155, 143, 117, 115, 115, and 107. The problem was that, save for the 115 points in Pittsburgh in 88-89, all of those seasons were in the minors. He still had himself a nice NHL career with 438 points, but one could argue that his true potential was never fully realized. He only managed to play 40 games in a Blackhawks uniform, but as you witnessed above, he made them count.


Gary Nylund

Nylund is probably more famous for his signing as a restricted free agent with the Hawks or for being a less than stellar third overall pick (Hello Cam Barker!), but number 22 had a run with the Hawks organization for 2 1/2 seasons in the late 80's. Another cementhead defenseman, Nylund was generally better with his gloves off and hams up. His best NHL season was, in fact, with the Hawks as he racked up 27 points in the 86-87 season.

As compensation for signing with the Hawks, Toronto received Jerome Dupont, Ken Yaremchuk and a fourth-round pick in '87 (Joe Sacco). Originally, they had asked for Eddie Olczyk, whom they eventually acquired in the Rick Vaive trade.

Here is a video of of Nylund eating Bob Probert's fist, with cameos from the previously mentioned Bob Sauve and everybody's favorite color man, Eddie Olczyk.



Stu Grimson

One of the more infamous names of Blackhawks lore, his name fit the role he played. He was John Scott before there was John Scott.

I have to take that back and apologize to Stu Grimson, because nobody could possibly be that fucking terrible. Please, don't punch my face, Stu.

At 6'6" and 240 lbs, he was considerably bigger than a majority of the players of the day, and used that size to his advantage. He made a living doing one thing, pounding faces, and he did that very well. The chants of "Stuuuuuu!" still rattle around in my head from time to time. There really isn't much more I can say, that these videos don't already showcase, so enjoy:




Keith Carney

Keith Carney is one of the less clownish players on my list. He had himself a nice career as a second tier NHL defenseman. Nothing Carney did was all-star worthy, but what led him to play over 1000 NHL games was that he was consistently consistant. Regularly a "plus"player, he was a top notch shut down defender with very good skating skills. After his time with the Hawks, he played in the '98 Olympic games. I would compare him to a less physical Brent Seabrook. With Chelios and Suter logging the top minutes, Carney was an excellent compliment to that first line duo. He played five seasons with the Hawks and was traded to Phoenix for slugs Chad Kilger and Jayson More. Brilliant move.

More recently Carney has been back with the Hawks organization as a skating instructor and player development coach. Judging by his appearance at the Hawks prospect camp he looks like he could step back out on the ice and contribute, today.


James Black
James Black had the unfortunate luck of coming to the Hawks at the beginning of the lean years, after Roenick and Belfour were cast off. He was first brought up in the 95/96 season after an impressive 80 plus point season in Indianapolis and was traded to Washington for a draft pick after only 47 points in parts of 3 seasons in Chicago. Black was probably best known for his booming slapshot, his husky build, and his long bushy hair which made me take notice. As with thousands of players, his game never really translated to the NHL ice. After a couple of seasons with Washington, he retired.


Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas was probably my second favorite Blackhawks player at the time. He came over with Vaive, from Toronto and played parts of 5 injury plagued seasons on West Madison. The 40 goals he scored in 89/90 made for the second best goal output of his career. Another winger with a booming slapshot, obviously his game was better suited for the NHL. When he was traded to the Islanders, the return was Brent Sutter, who was instrumental as a shutdown center for the 1991 cup run.

Thomas appeared with then Leafs prospect Peter Zezel in the movie Youngblood as Hamilton Mustangs teammates.


Reto Von Arx

This one is sort of a throw away that I added to the list because of his bad ass name. Von Arx is currently playing in Switzerland along with his brother Jan, after only 19 games and 3 NHL points, all with the Blackhawks. Too bad his talent didn't match up with the hype.

Von Arx never scored more than 21 goals at any level, so it looks as though he was a throw away 9th round pick. Then again, aren't most 9th round picks?


Ray LeBlanc
Last, but not least, is America's last amateur Olympic goaltending hero, Ray Leblanc. Leblanc backstopped the last successful truly amateur US Olympic team to a 4-0-1 prelim record in 1992, before losing to the Soviet Unified team in the semis and the Czech team in the bronze medal game. All the hype surrounding Leblanc's effort and the impending expansion draft led the Blackhawks to a very peculiar position. They had to expose one goaltender to the draft, and didn't want to expose Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek or Jimmy Waite. They activated Leblanc for his only NHL appearance against the San Jose Sharks, where he gained a 5-1, thus making him eligible for the draft. He wasn't selected.

Nonetheless, LeBlanc appeared in all eight Olympic games for the United States, compiling a record of 5–2–1 with two shutouts, gaining brief fame, and later playing for the upstart Chicago Wolves.

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