If you are a Chicago Blackhawks fan, then 2013 has been one of the most gut-wrenching, wildly emotional roller coasters that you are likely to experience.
There was the fear as the new year dawned that we wouldn’t see hockey, but just a few days after New Year’s, hockey fans got their miracle when the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. After that, there was a 48-game sprint through 99 days in one of the most condensed schedules in history.
The Blackhawks emerged from that slate as the top team in the NHL, and their first round playoff series victory was a breeze over the Minnesota Wild. Against the Detroit Red Wings though, the Hawks were pushed to the brink of elimination, down three games to one. Three games later, the Blackhawks proved a lot of naysayers wrong, coming back and winning the series to get into the Western Conference Finals.
After dispatching the Los Angeles Kings with relative ease in that series, the Hawks found themselves down 2-to-1 in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. Showing serious resolve again, the Hawks won a 6-5 thriller in Game 4, held on for a Game 5 victory on home ice, and then came back with their now-legendary two goals in 17 seconds to win Game 6 3-2 and clinch the team’s second championship in four seasons.
Now, with a new banner up at the United Center and the team once again sporting the best record in the NHL as they try to become the first repeat champions in 16 years, there is a lot for Hawks fans to be thankful for. In that vein, we asked Hawks fans to tell us what their favorite memory from 2013 is, and we used that help to come up with this list of the Top 10 moments of the Blackhawks’ 2013 season.
#10: Brent Seabrook Comforts Jonathan Toews in the Penalty Box
This seems like a good place to start, because it was one of the lowest moments of the year for the Blackhawks’ captain. His team was on the verge of going down 3 games to 1 in the best-of-7 series against the Red Wings, and Toews was having an incredibly rough Game 4.
This gesture by Seabrook captured the emotions of a lot of Blackhawks fans on that night, who wanted to let their captain know that everyone was still behind him, and he responded by producing a ton in the remaining three games of that series.
#9: Daniel Carcillo’s Coverboy Moment
Going into the third period against the Colorado Avalanche on home ice, the Blackhawks were trailing 2-1, and it seemed that their 23-game point streak was facing one of its sternest challenges. After Toews scored a short-handed goal just two minutes into the third period, the contest was tied, but the Hawks couldn’t seem to get the killshot that they needed.
That’s where Carcillo came in. With no goals on the season, Carcillo came out with the team’s fourth line in the last minute of the game, and after he got the puck in the slot, he popped home a rebound to give the Blackhawks a late 3-2 lead, and the team ran out the clock to win the contest.
The ensuing image of Carcillo being congratulated by his teammates ended up finding its way onto the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, and into the memory banks of Hawks fans everywhere.
#8: Patrick Kane Sends a Message to the Kings
On the very first day of the NHL season, the Hawks had to watch as the Los Angeles Kings raised their championship banner to the rafters of the Staples Center, and received their championship rings.
The cheers had barely died down inside the building when Patrick Kane stepped up and delivered a crystal clear message to the Kings: your reign is over. That’s because Kane came out less than four minutes into the game and fired a gorgeous goal past Jonathan Quick to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The deflated Kings then gave up two more goals in that first period and ultimately lost the game by a score of 5-2.
That momentum-building victory helped propel the Blackhawks through a road-heavy early schedule, and put them on the path to their remarkable 24-game point streak.
#7: Blackhawks Paint Grant Park Red
The celebrations that followed the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship were a memorable experience for anybody that attended. Seeing Michigan Avenue packed with Hawks fans in all directions was something that the players and team brass are never going to forget, and the expressions of joy helped carry fans through a hockey-less summer.
For 2013, the Hawks upped the ante, and elected to have their championship celebration in Grant Park, made famous by the Chicago Bulls’ wild celebrations during their 1990’s dominance. Those worried about turnout were proven wildly wrong, as an estimated 2 million fans made their way into the park to celebrate with their team.
It was a glorious scene that fans of the team will surely want to see repeated in the summer of 2014.
#6: Andrew Shaw Becomes a Hero at the Stroke of Midnight
Before he became a Hawks legend for getting drilled in the face with a puck and then coming back into the game just a few minutes later, it was Shaw who got the Stanley Cup Final off to a rollicking start.
Nearly two hours into the game, the outcome still hadn’t been decided, and the Hawks continued to slug it out with the Boston Bruins in the third overtime. Then, when Michal Rozsival fired a shot from the point, Dave Bolland got a stick on it. All of the sudden, Shaw came skating through the frame, and got a final tip on the puck to get it past Tuukka Rask, and just like that, the Hawks had won the game 4-3.
It was an incredible moment that occurred just as the clock hit midnight in the United Center, and it immediately was cemented as one of the best games in Stanley Cup Final history.
#5: Marian Hossa Cancels the Party in Calgary
Coming off of two consecutive shootout losses, the Blackhawks were looking to get into another one with the Flames, but with just 35 seconds left in the game, Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had other ideas. His goal gave the Flames the lead, and suddenly it looked like the Hawks’ eight-game point streak was in danger of ending.
Just as Flames fans were beginning to celebrate, Hossa silenced the festive crowd. With just three seconds left in the game, Hossa pounded home a rebound to tie things up at 2-2, and the Hawks went on to get Ray Emery, who made 47 saves in the game, a shootout victory.
#4: Michael Frolik Caps Off Furious Game 6 Comeback
With the Blackhawks trailing both in the series and in Game 6 of their series with the Red Wings, the team’s veteran players buckled down and got things tied back up. Michal Handzus scored less than a minute into the period to tie the game at 2-2, and five minutes later Bryan Bickell scored to give the Blackhawks the lead.
It was Michael Frolik’s shootout goal about halfway through the period that really cemented things for the Hawks, and spawned one of the more legendary Blackhawks .GIF’s in history in the process.
#3: Kane Ensures Blackhawks “Will Go On” With Hat Trick Goal
In a double-overtime thriller against the Kings, the Blackhawks were trying feverishly to end the Western Conference Finals with a victory on home ice, but the pesky squad from the City of Angels wouldn’t go quietly into the night.
Then, in a flash, it was over. Breaking out on a 2-on-1 with Toews alongside him, Kane got the puck between the face-off dots and buried his third goal of the game to send the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Final. His celebration with Shaw after the goal seemed like it was ripped straight out of the movie “Titanic”, and sent Hawks fans into a state of delirium.
#2: 17 Seconds
There really isn’t a way to describe the goals that Bickell and Bolland scored 17 seconds apart from one another to clinch the championship for the Blackhawks, so we won’t even try. Here’s the video:
#1: Seabrook Sends Wings East With a Flourish
In the last game between the Hawks and Wings before realignment separated the two clubs into separate conferences, the emotional swings of the contest came fast and furious. First there was the trepidation that comes along with any game. Then, Niklas Hjalmarsson scored what looked to be the go-ahead goal in the late stages of the game:
But Stephane Walkom intervened, and the goal didn’t count. Fortunately for Hawks fans, the series (and ultimately the season) had a happy ending when Seabrook stepped up and delivered:
Yes, the “17 Seconds” sequence is the one that will go down in the history books and be remembered longer by non-Hawks fans, but it was this moment, born out of the violent swings of emotion that occurred that night, that most defined the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. When the chips were down, and the world seemed ready to finally write off the team favored to win it all for just about the entire season, they still were able to deliver, and the Stanley Cup championship banner hanging from the rafters is the prize for their season-long quest to prove the doubters wrong, and to fight off all comers who would seek to knock them from the peak of the NHL mountain.