When I originally started writing this installment of Blackhawks History 101 I was going to profile the number 28. Then I realized there is only one person worthy of an article who wore number 28 and that is my all time favorite Blackhawk, Steve Larmer. Sorry Mark Bell, Michael Blunden and Martin Lapointe you don’t make the cut for this article. In fact none of you could carry Larmer’s jock strap on your best days.
Steve Larmer is a Blackhawks legend and was part of one of the greatest lines ever assembled in the history of the team. Larmer was paired up with Hall of Famer Dennis Savard and Al Secord to form what was dubbed as the “Party Line.” This line was as exciting and talented as any line in the league. They had it all; speed, skill, grit and toughness. This line could do some major damage in today’s NHL. The Hawks had some unbelievable teams in the 1980s, but they were a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wayne Gretzky and his dynasty in Edmonton were the only thing that stopped the Hawks from winning at least one Stanley Cup in the 80s.
The Blackhawks selected Larmer in the 6th round of the 1980 entry draft. He was awarded the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie for the 1982-83 season where he scored 43 goals and added 47 assists. Larmer scored over 40 goals five times in a season including a career high 46 goals in 1984-85. His career low in goals, with the Blackhawks, was in the 1986-87 season where he scored only 28 goals but had 56 assists. Only two players in Blackhawks history have scored more than Larmer’s 406 goals and those two guys have statues outside the United Center. His 517 assists is 5th in team history and 923 points is good for the 4th most ever as a Blackhawk. He had a career points per game average of 1.03 over 891 career regular season games in Chicago. He finished his Blackhawks career as a +182. The most astonishing regular season stat of his career was he never missed a regular season game from his first full year in 82-83 until he was traded after the 1992-93 season, that’s eleven years of being in the lineup every night.
Larmer played in 107 playoff games for the Blackhawks and had 111 career postseason points (45 G, 66 A). He carried his point per game career average from the regular season into the post season, when the games matteredthe most. He had a career high 22 points (9 G, 13 A) during the 1986 playoff run and again (7 G, 15 A) in the 1990 post season. He scored 8 goals and added 7 assists during the memorable run to the Stanley Cup Final in the spring of 1992.
In November of 1993, the Hawks sent Steve Larmer to the Hartford Whalers who in turn shipped him to the New York Rangers. All we got in return for one of the best Blackhawks of my generation was Eric Weinrich and Patrick Poulin. Larmer still had enough in the tank to help the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years that season. He had 60 points (21 G, 39 A) in the regular season and was a major contributor in the playoffs with 16 points (9 G, 7 A). The trade of Steve Larmer was sign of things to come and started the decline of a proud franchise into the dark depths of later years of the Bill Wirtz era. It wasn’t much longer after this that stars like Ed Belfour and Jeremy Roenick were shipped out of town for minimal return and replaced with washed up players collecting one last check before being put out to pasture.
I still can’t figure out how Larmer has not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Only 75 players in the history of the game have scored more than his 1012 career points. He belongs in his place with the game’s all time greats. What is even a bigger injustice is that the number 28 does not hang from the rafters of the United Center. No one should ever be allowed to wear his number again in Chicago. Steve Larmer was the heart and soul of this organization for 11 years. He gave ever ounce of his being to win for this team. The very least the Blackhawks can do is honor him by raising his number up with the greatest players to ever wear the Indian Head. His name belongs right up there with the likes of Savard, Hull and Mikita.
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