The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the most dominant teams in hockey over the past decade or so.
Numerous ‘Hawks players past and present from the 2010s are already shoe-ins for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Despite this, one looming question remains- which Blackhawks players will have their numbers retired by the team? To be immortalized in the rafters of the United Center would obviously be a huge honor and one that Chicago has only bestowed only seven times before.
In order to have a banner hanging next to the likes of Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito, the Blackhawks will have to choose players who not only helped lead the team but who truly contributed to the success of the ‘Hawks over the past ten years.
There are certainly a few guys that will have definitely have their numbers retired. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been the faces of this franchise since their rookie years, guiding the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in six seasons.
Toews is undoubtedly the best leader the ‘Hawks have ever had, and became the third-youngest captain in NHL history when he was given the ‘C’ in 2008. In my opinion, he could also be included in the conversation for one of the best captains in NHL history, period.
Kane just scored his 400th goal last week and just played in his 1000th career NHL contest. He is one of the best snipers the game has ever seen, and I personally consider him in a tie with Mike Modano as the greatest American-born player ever.
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Both Kane and Toews will have their numbers retired. Whether or not this will happen immediately after the end of their careers is uncertain, but I would guarantee that no other Blackhawk will ever wear #19 or #88 again.
Beyond those two, I believe that Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford will also definitely have their numbers retired. Keith is an absolute workhorse and has been the cornerstone of the Blackhawks’ defense since 2005, and he has cemented himself as a part of Chicago’s sports legacy.
Corey Crawford spent his entire career with the ‘Hawks (let’s just forget that Devils contract), toiling in the AHL for years before finally getting the chance to shine in the 2011 season. From there, he backstopped the ‘Hawks to the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015, winning the William M. Jennings Trophy both of those years as well. Crow is without a doubt one of the top goalies in team history.
Both Keith and Crawford also definitely deserved to have their numbers retired, and I am certain that they both will. Beyond that, though, there are so many amazing players that the ‘Hawks have had, it’s hard to say for sure who else will receive this rare honor.
Marian Hossa didn’t play with the Blackhawks for as long as some of the aforementioned guys did, but he was an integral part of all three Stanley Cup teams and was absolutely beloved in the locker room. He has also already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, becoming a member of last year’s class. I think it would be a great gesture by the ‘Hawks for #81 to be retired.
Brent Seabrook also just announced his retirement and was another guy that was loved by the fans and players alike. He was a staple on the blueline for about the same amount of time as Keith, and was another integral part of the three championship teams. Retiring his number would be a fitting tribute to the end of his playing career.
There are plenty of other guys that could be selected for such an honor. A guy like Patrick Sharp, for example, was another key part of the ‘Hawks decade of dominance, and could easily have his number retired as well.
The important thing, though, is that the ‘Hawks keep the number of retirees low enough so that the significance of it doesn’t begin to fade. There are a lot of fantastic players to choose from that could see their numbers hanging from the United Center. Hopefully, when that time eventually does come, they will be forever immortalized among the stadium rafters.