Today’s entrant in the Chicago Blackhawks top 100 list was the team’s leading goaltender during some trying times
Corey Crawford has become the gold standard for Chicago Blackhawks goalies going forward. Crawford was preceeded by Tony Esposito. While there were many Blackhawks goalies in between the two, one goalie stood out to me as kid. He was my favorite player growing up. That was the team’s goalie in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jocelyn Thibault.
Thibault was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques 10th overall in 1993. After the Nordiques moved to Colorado, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens because the Avalanche acquired Patrick Roy.
Thibault came to the Blackhawks from the Canadiens in a trade in 1998. The trade that brought Thibault to the Blackhawks also sent out Jeff Hackett. Thibault would spend six seasons with the Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks: The dark times
He would be the goalies during one of the darkest times in the Blackhawks history. It was the height of the Bill Wirtz era, in which games were not broadcast on TV. The reason Wirtz gave was because it hurt season ticketholders. The lowest point was the ESPN article that dubbed the Chicago Blackhawks the worst franchise in professional sports.
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Despite all that turmoil, Thibault was one of the bright spots for the Blackhawks. During his tenure with the ’Hawks, he appeared in 321 games. He had a record of 137-142-37 with a .095/2.63 slashline. His best season with the ’Hawks was 2002-03. He went 26-28-7 with a .915/2.37 slashline. He had eight shutouts and made his only NHL All-Star team with the ’Hawks in that season as well.
The Blackhawks would make the playoffs once during his tenure in net. In 2001-02, he would help lead the Blackhawks to their first playoff appearance in four seasons. Sadly, they were beaten 4-1 by the St. Louis Blues. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games, going 1-2 with a .909/2.64 slashline. This season would be significant because after the 2001-02 season, the ’Hawks would not make the playoffs until the 2008-09 season.
His Blackhawks tenure would end with the lockout. The Blackhawks would trade Thibault to the Penguins in 2006 for a fourth-round draft pick. With the 95th pick, the ’Hawks selected Ben Shutron. Shutron never played game with the Blackhawks or in the NHL.
Thibault’s career with the ’Hawks might be overlooked by some because of the time he played in. Unless you had season tickets, you did not see him play at home often. The Blackhawks were also so bad during the his tenure. I did not overlook his career, and that is why he is No. 38 on this list.