Recently I was talking with a fellow Chicagoan about the 2010 parade. They asked me about what I remember most.... My response: Why was Shawn Lalonde there. They then asked, who?
As the season starts to go through it's mundane stages where the Hawks jockey from bottom 3 to bottom 5 and so forth I thought it'd be fun to rehash some of the "remember him" conversations I've had in the past few seasons.
Today, I'd like to start with Shawn Lalonde. Officially his name is Shawn Beauchamp-Lalonde and he is an Orleans, Ontario native of that place where hockey was birthed up north. Some pundits may argue that the UK has something to say about that or that even ancient Egyptians played hockey, however "modern" hockey is widely believed to be started in 1875 in Montreal (first game) or in Windsor in 1844 (Hurley). In 2008, the IIHF officially gave it to Montreal so we will just go with that though. Don't want anyone upset after all. Yay, fun facts.
The Blackhawks drafted Lalonde in 2008, #68 overall as a right shot defenseman. He was seen as a solidly built all around blue liner with a good heavy shot and a physical presence in the forecheck. He was playing for the Belleville Bulls in the OHL when the Hawks took him. He was good, but not elite which had him slide to #68 that draft year.
The next 2 seasons for the Bulls though made the entire Blackhawks organization stand up and take notice. Lalonde put up 32 goals from point shots and 109 points in 124 games. He was a star in the OHL. Lalonde skyrocketed up everyone's lists as he quickly became a player we put on par with a Brent Seabrook type of impact defenseman.
The organization quickly placed Lalonde with the Rockford Icehogs to try and fast track him to Chicago. An increase in speed and a rush to push Lalonde quickly ran into trouble. The pressure may have been too much as he could never seem to grab back that physical nature he once relied upon. He had a solid, but unremarkable, AHL career with 204 games and 70 points. He even played in 1 NHL game on April 27, 2013 against the Blues. He had 20 shifts in 14:47 TOI and was actually a +1.
After that is where the history really began. The Blackhawks qualified him as an RFA, however Shawn decided to decline the offer. He wanted to move on and grab a new team. While hindsight is 20/20, Lalonde has played in 4 different European leagues for 8 different teams now, I'm sure he thought at the time there was no way to crack the 3 pairs during a dynasty run. He never saw another game in the NHL after that decision to decline the offer.
Now 32 years old, he is back in the KHL playing for Dinamo Minsk. Dinamo has quite a few former highly thought of NHL drafted players on it by the way (Nick Merkley, Ryan Spooner). I always remember what a big deal it was when he was on top of that bus for the first parade. It was basically telling the city, "this is the next great player"..... Unfortunately, that never happened.