Former Chicago Blackhawk and Illinois-native Tommy Wingels recently signed a contract to join the Swiss National League. Today, we look back on his career and time with the Blackhawks.
Tommy Wingels Before The NHL
Wingles grew up in Evanston, Illinois. Being an Illinois native, he was an immediate fan-favorite night in and night out once joining the Chicago Blackhawks. Before that, though, Tommy joined the Miami University RedHawks to play hockey at the college level. Previously less-than-special, Wingels and his fellow freshman helped to change the RedHawks into an elite, powerhouse program in college hockey.
Between 2007-10, Wingels and his teammates were big pieces of a Miami team which won 85 games and made three appearances in the NCCA Tournament. Two of those resulted in trips to the Frozen Four.
Wingels’ game has never been purely offensive-oriented, however he makes his mark in other ways. His ability as a leader, physicality and two-way style of play make him an impact player through and through. Over those three seasons in Miami, Tommy posted 99 points and didn’t miss a single game. The importance of durability like that was undoubtedly appreciated by teammates, coaches, and brass within every organization he’s been in.
His play and attitude on the ice, in addition to his ability to stay healthy on it, helped him to gain enough attention for the San Jose Sharks to draft him in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, shortly after his freshman season.
Wingels In The NHL
Tommy spent the first seven years of his NHL career with the San Jose Sharks. His two best offensive seasons came in San Jose during 2013-14 and 2014-15. In those years, Wingels put up 38 (16 G, 22 A) and 36 (15 G, 21 A) points. They still stand as career highs. He also averaged career highs in ice-time those two seasons, with 16:18. That number is significantly higher than his career averages TOI of 13:38.
Here’s an interesting clip of Wingels mic’d up with the Sharks.
Halfway through his seventh year with the club they sent him to the Ottawa Senators, however his time there was short-lived. Wingels spent only 36 games there.
That following off-season, which preceded the 2017-18 campaign, Wingels signed a 1-year deal with Chicago where he played in 57 games putting up 12 points (7 G, 5 A). Though he was coming off lower point totals in the two seasons before coming to Chicago, the club obviously valued what he brought to the table in a checking-line role. In fact, Tommy’s role with the Hawks was crucial despite spending the majority of his time as a bottom-six forward.
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Every successful Chicago team has been known for having productive third and fourth lines. In Stanley Cup winning years, some of the Blackhawks strongest lines were in their bottom-six. Wingels helped to continue that trend, however Chicago’s playoff chances were squandered when star-goaltender Corey Crawford was sidelined for the second half of the season after sustaining a head injury in late December.
As sellers at the trade deadline, the Blackhawks sent Wingels to the Boston Bruins where he would total 5 points (2 G, 3 A) in 18 games played. Boston brought Wingels in at the trade deadline expecting him to be a difference-maker in their lineup. That said, they had no idea he’d turn into such a solid acquisition.
Later on in the season, in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Bruins had the chance to end the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was in this game that Boston and Coach Bruce Cassidy showed their true feelings towards Wingels. Cassidy plugged Tommy into the second line and dropped Rick Nash to the third line for that game. That move demonstrated just how much Coach Cassidy trusted Wingels, who had just recently came to Boston at the deadline. The situation is similar to Coach Quenneville putting Michal Handzus on the ice when the Blackhawks were down one goal against the Bruins in Game Six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Incase you forgot how that one ended:
Man oh man does that feel good to watch.
The Bruins weren’t able to close it out in either game six, but they did eventually win that series against the Leafs in 7.
Give his current style of play, it’s easy to forget that at one point in his career Wingels averaged 15 goals and 37 points in a pair of seasons. Though he may not be able to produce at that level in the NHL, his skating ability in tandem with his physicality, hockey IQ, and heart are all highly sought after qualities in a bottom-six forward. Additionally, when given time and space Wingels can pick spots on the goaltender all day. It’s something easily forgotten about him, however it plays into his favor when goalies seem to forget, too.
Check the top six or seven in this video for some absolutely beautiful goals from Tommy throughout his career.
Considering he just inked a deal in the National League, the top-tier hockey league in Switzerland, Wingels skill-set could help him to produce at that level again. The deal is for one year with Genève-Servette HC.
"“For me, every level I played at, as I become more confident and experienced, my game has continued to evolve,” Wingels told USA Hockey Magazine’s Ryan Satkowiak."
Well, hopefully Tommy continues to learn and experiences nothing but success in his future. In recent years he’s bounced around considerably between organizations. Now, he’s entering his fifth organization in three seasons, once again on only a 1-year deal. Ideally, in or out of the NHL, Wingels is able to secure a place to play for the long-haul sooner rather than later.
That being said, despite whatever happens in Wingels’ hockey career, Chicago will always be proud to call itself Tommy’s home.
Additionally, former Blackhawk Lance Bouma inked a deal with the same club. Stay tuned for details.