As the countdown to the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season continues, we’ll take a look at one player who best wore the same number as there are days left until October 4 when the season kicks off against the Ottawa Senators.
Each day, the Chicago Blackhawks regular season continues to inch closer and closer. Though this waiting game can feel like a drag, we’ll help pass the time by giving you one different Blackhawks player who’s worn the same number as there are days left. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to discuss Tony Esposito‘s storied career with the Chicago Blackhawks.
With 34 days left, we’re forced to choose one of 21 different players who’ve worn no. 34 throughout their careers. That being said, as a blog focusing on a sport in the city of Chicago, we have to say that there will only every be one no. 34 in the city of Chicago.
His name? Sweetness.
The one and only, Walter Payton.
Now that we’ve acknowledged that, we must choose from one of the 21 Blackhawks to pull a no. 34 sweater over their heads and take the ice.
Chicago Blackhawks Legend Tim Erixon was a fan favorite for the pick, however with only eight games played in a Blackhawks jersey, Erixon’s career is nothing to write home about (or write about at all, in fact).
Bill Gardner was another potential choice; he wore no. 34 for the Chicago Blackhawks for eight seasons. In two of those he put up 51 and 48 points, even receiving some Frank J. Selke Trophy votes in one year.
However, today we’ll look at a deeper look at a Blackhawks goaltender whose tenure in the crease was not as long as fans would’ve hoped, retrospectively.
His name? Dominik Hasek. And yes, that Dominik Hasek. Hasek was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks 199th overall in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. Somehow, one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time was drafted in the 10th round of the draft.
Hasek’s stint with the Blackhawks was short-lived; he spent just two seasons with the club (one in no. 34 and another in no. 31) before being sent to the Buffalo Sabres for potentially the worst trade in Chicago Blackhawks’ history.
In his first season with Chicago, Hasek played in only five games, going 3-0-1 on a 2.46 GAA. After a few games, his potential seemed to be there. In the following season, Hasek started 17 games going an impressive 13-4-1. How then-General manager Mike Keenan didn’t see Hasek’s potential is shocking to me.
Da Windy City
Cleary, Keenan must have been especially high on Christian Ruuttu given he traded one of the best goalies in NHL history for Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round draft pick.
Then, he sent Beauregard to the Winnipeg Jets for Ruuttu just a few days later. So, more or less, it was Hasek for Ruuttu.
For those of you frustrated with current-General Manager Stan Bowman, consider yourself lucky. Hasek won the Czechoslovakian goaltender of the year award for five straight seasons. Additionally, he earned player of the year in Czechoslovakia three different times.
If you think that’s bad, Hasek earned NHL All-Rookie Team honors his rookie year despite having only started those 17 games.
At the time, Hasek shared the net with Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ed Belfour. Belfour was the team’s no. 1 goaltender at the time, so it makes sense for a GM to want to shop a position they have surplus in.
Understandably, Belfour was already a proven goaltender, so trading him probably would’ve propelled the fan-base into a riot. My issue with this move isn’t moving Hasek, rather, it’s what the Blackhawks got in return.
Ruuttu’s production with the Blackhawks was, well, not worth giving up a Hall of Fame goaltender for. In his time with the Chicago Blackhawks he totaled 90 points in 158 contests. After leaving Chicago, Hasek would go on to lead the league in years in S%, shutouts, and a number of other categories for years to come.
Hasek’s trophy list isn’t a short one, either.
- Vezina Trophies (top goaltender): 6 (five in a six-year span)
- Hart Memorial Trophies (MVP): 2 (won back-to-back)
- William M. Jennings Trophies (least goals given up): 3\
Additionally, Hasek won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and then carried the Buffalo Sabres to the third round of the playoffs and eventually the Stanley Cup Final in 1999. Though he didn’t win, he eventually moved to Detroit where he won two Stanley Cups in three seasons. With Detroit, he posted 41 regular-season wins, a league high. Furthermore, he posted six shutouts along the 16-game road to winning the Stanley Cup.
All things considering, the idea of trading Hasek (at the time) really wasn’t idiotic considering the Chicago Blackhawks had a surplus in goaltender’s. Keenan rolled the dice but unfortunately the return on the trade was, well, awful.
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As Blackhawks fans, I suppose all we can do is hope that the Panarin / Saad deal works out at least a little bit better than the Hasek / Beauregard trade did.
It shouldn’t be hard.
Check in again tomorrow to see who will earn the honors of being featured at no. 33!