In honor of Eddie Olczyk being named to the US Hockey Hall of Fame, today we will look at the number 16 throughout Blackhawks history. Olczyk wore #16 during both of his stints with the Hawks. Edzo was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 entry draft and made his debut, at the age of 18, the following fall. His best season with the Blackhawks was his second year in 1985-86. He scored 29 goals, 8 on the power play, and added 50 assists. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 86-87 season, along with Al Secord for Rick Vaive, Steve Thomas and Bob McGill. Olczyk made a return to Chicago when he signed as a free agent in the summer of 1998. Of course we now hear Edzo not only in the Blackhawks TV booth with Pat Foley, but also on the NBC national broadcasts.
Johnny Wilson wore #16 back in the 1955-56 and 1956-57 seasons. He scored 24 goals in 55-56 and 18 goals in 56-57. In July of 1957 Wilson was involved in one of the most important trades in Hawks history. He was part of a package of players sent to the Detroit Red Wings in return for two future Hall of Famers, foward Ted Lindsay and goalie Glenn Hall. Hall’s #1 can be seen hanging from the rafters of the United Center.
In 1957 the greatest player to ever wear the Indian Head made his debut in a #16 sweater. ”The Golden Jet” Bobby Hull wore 16 for the first 3 years of his career before making the switch to his famous #9. Hull scored 608 goals and added 555 assists in his 1054 career regular season games in Chicago. In 116 career playoff games he had 129 points (62 G, 67 A) and was part of the 1961 Stanley Cup winning team. He is the all time leading goal score in Blackhawks history. Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 and currently can be seen at every home game doing a great job as Blackhawks Ambassador.
When Hull switched to number 9, his teammate Chico Maki took over #16 in 1963. Maki was part of the 1961 Cup team and was a 3 time All Star in 1961, 1971 and 1972. Maki had a resurgence in 1971-72 season, scoring a career high 22 goals after only scoring 34 goals in the previous four seasons combined. Maki played a total of 954 combined regular season and playoff games all in a Blackhawks uniform.
On my 11th birthday, March 5, 1990 the Blackhawks turned the trio of Everett Sanipass, Mario Doyon and Dan Vincelette into Michel Goulet from the Quebec Nordiques. Goulet had already scored 456 goals when he was traded to Chicago and he scored 92 goals in 276 regular season games for the Blackhawks. Goulet is also know for having one of the best mustache’s hockey history. In fact, my fantasy hockey team’s name used to be ”The Michel Goulet Mustache Rides.” Goulet was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.
Matt Ellison wore #16 for the 36 games he played for the Blackhawks between 2003 and 2005. Why would I mention a player who only scored 3 career NHL goals? That’s easy! On December 5th, 2005 Dale Tallon sent Ellison and a 3rd round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Patrick Sharp in one of the most lopsided trades in Blackhawks history.
In late December of 2005 the Hawks sent a 4th round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for Radim Vrbata who wore 16 for his short time in Chicago. Vrbata has 75 points (27 G 48 A) in 122 games with Blackhawks. Vrbata has resurrected his career in Phoenix over the last three seasons. He scored a career high 35 goals this past year.
At the 2008 trade deadline, Dale Tallon sent former 1st round pick Tuomo Ruutu to Carolina in exchange for Andrew Ladd. Ladd wore #16 in his 164 regular season games for the Blackhawks. Ladd became an important piece for the 2010 Stanley Cup championship team. Andrew fell victim to the salary cap and had to be moved to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a draft pick that turned into Adam Clendening. Ladd and Kris Versteeg were the two players from the 2010 team I hated parting with the most, but as we know sports is a game about dollars and cents. Ladd is now the captain for the Winnipeg Jets and has scored 59 goals in the last two seasons.
Remember when the Hawks signed Ryan Potulny before the 2010-2011 season? Yeah, I forgot about that too! Potulny only got to wear #16 for three games last season. He was shipped to Ottawa, along with a 2nd round draft pick, for the services of defenseman Chris Campoli. Campoli was a solid addition to last year’s team but will be forever remembered for his turnover that lead to the season ending goal versus the Canucks.
Marcus Kruger currently wears #16 for the Hawks. He improved vastly throughout the course of last season and could be a decent addition to this team. I love his willingness to get to the dirty areas in front of the net despite being undersized. Hopefully the concussion problems that caused him to miss time last year do not plague him throughout his career.
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