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.
As Chicago Blackhawks hockey continues to inch closer, I continue to grow more and more impatient.
Yesterday, we talked Viktor Stalberg as I hoped his speed would help to make the regular season come to a close a little bit faster.
Today, I’m trying a different route. We’ll be looking at Martin Havlat, who helped to transition the dark-age Chicago Blackhawks into the team which achieved so much success (and still has the potential to experience more).
As a younger Chicago Blackhawks fan, my fan-hood begins right around Havlat’s time with the Blackhawks did: 2006-07.
At the time, Nikolai Khabibulin was still the Hawks’ starting goaltender (and remains to be one of my favorite goalies in NHL history). Michal Handzus was in his first stint with the Blackhawks. Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell were both 20 years old.
Patrick Sharp was 25.
The times they were, well, different.
Before Chicago, Havlet was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, 26th overall. This was the same draft which saw Daniel and Henrik Sedin drafted 2nd and 3rd overall by the Vancouver Canucks.
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Of every player drafted in the first three rounds of that draft, only five of them played more games in their NHL career than Havlat did (790). That season, Martin would finish 3rd in Calder Memorial Trophy voting.
Not too shabby, eh?
Havlat came in before the 2006 season and immediately impressed. He could skate faster than seemingly anyone else on the roster.
Not only that, but his shot was lethal and became a known threat for opposing defenses. As a result, he used that to open up opportunities for his teammates and put pucks on platters for them for three seasons.
Havlat was young and was just beginning to become the exciting star that many Blackhawks fans remember him as.
He helped to pave the way for what Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would become in the future.
Additionally, he helped to create one of the better Chicago Blackhawks commercials I remember seeing.
Unfortunately, Havlat wasn’t able to stick around for the Stanley Cup winning 2009-10 season. The Blackhawks more or less chose Marian Hossa over him (good decision) however it could’ve been handled in better ways as the Blackhawks and Havlat didn’t end on the best of terms.
They signed Hossa on the first day of free agency which spelled the end of Havlat’s time in Chicago.
Understandably, Havlat wasn’t very happy. He’d later tweet that he didn’t leave the Blackhawks, but rather they left him.
Following his time in Chicago Havlat would go on to play with the Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues however he’d never play another full season due to various injuries.
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Though his name remains absent from the Stanley Cup, Havlat is a big reason that there were three banners hung in the rafters of the United Center. That, and for Blackhawks players getting some much needed acting lessons.