Oct 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; A general shot of the Stanley Cup banners prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
No. 3: Dirk Graham
When one looks back over the history of some players, it seems that they were meant to play for one team. That was the case with Dirk Graham and the Chicago Blackhawks, though it didn’t always seem that way.
Graham was originally a draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, and despite years of developing his game in the minors, he never played a game for them. He became a Minnesota North Star soon after, and it was in the State Of Hockey that he would get his first taste of the NHL: a season and a half spent with the North Stars. He blossomed as a player, and many thought that he had reached his potential ceiling.
They were wrong.
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Graham was traded to the Blackhawks mid-way through the 1987-88 season, after notching 12 points for Minnesota in 28 games. It didn’t take long for Graham to find his groove: He recorded 33 goals and 78 points the following season, in his first full year with the team. Both were career-highs.
Though Graham’s stats slipped year after year following his career-year in 1989, his leadership never faltered, after he was named captain of the Blackhawks in the midst of that season. He would continue to don the “C” until his retirement in 1995, and what he accomplished in that time is substantial: playoff appearances in every season, a Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1991 and a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1992. Even in retirement, Graham’s legend grew: He was succeeded by arguably the best Blackhawks captain of all-time.
Without a Stanley Cup to his name, Graham’s accomplishments are often understated. However, ask any Blackhawks fan during that era, and they will tell you he was the heart and soul of a proud franchise, with a strong past and a bright future.
Next: No. 2: Jonathan Toews
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