A few names come to mind right off the bat for some it’s more about where they went and not as much about leaving. The Chicago Blackhawks have had their share of icons and players who proudly donned the iconic jersey and then at some point, found themselves strangers in a strange land. My rankings lean a little more toward the more recent as it will likely resonate more as well as some long-time Hawks going elsewhere.
Here’s a look at a top-ten list that may stoke some emotion.
#10 – Eddie Belfour – San Jose Sharks
Maybe the Maple Leafs jersey was another one simply because it was another Original Six team, but Eddie the Eagle going to San Jose wearing the Sharks sweater but his traditional Blackhawks red pads and iconic helmet still stand out as to how baffling it was to see.
#9 – Niklas Hjalmarsson – Arizona Coyotes
The trade was one thing. But seeing him skating around in the Coyotes gear was another. After ten seasons with Chicago, he would play four seasons before calling it a career.
#8 – Patrick Sharp – Dallas Stars
Sharp’s days with the championship-caliber Blackhawks were done when he was shipped to the Dallas Stars for Trevor Daley among others. A salary cap casualty, he was one of a few transactions that would alter the team and essentially end their days of contention. Sharp would return to Chicago in 2017-18 but wasn’t the same player as he once was.
#7 – Tony Amonte – Arizona Coyotes
After a stellar career numbers wise with the Blackhawks, Amonte left via free agency as Chicago started completely bottoming out as a result of Bill Wirtz’s refusal to spend money. During an era in Chicago where the Bulls drew more attention, Amonte had one of the most successful stretches in franchise history in terms of goals and points. Even though he quietly went to Arizona, it looked as wrong as it did for #6 on our list.
#6 – Jeremy Roenick – Arizona Coyotes
He couldn’t come to an agreement with the Blackhawks and was traded as a result. Roenick still stands as one of the most popular Blackhawks among fans and is one of only four Hawks to have scored 50 goals in a season. But at the time of the trade, he was booed lustily by fans as the narrative was one of a greedy player instead of a tight fisted owner. Time, as it usually does, heals all wounds and Roenick is all but universally beloved by Blackhawks fans.
#5 – Denis Savard – Montreal Canadiens
I think that #4 and #5 could go either way, but the only thing that puts Savard at five is that Chicago native Chris Chelios came the other way in the trade. Savard called it a “dream” heading to the Canadiens while Chelios would help push the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1992. But Savard had been a major part of Chicago’s success from when he was drafted with the team. He is still top five in major categories to this day, but all that softened the blow of the trade was Chelios returning to his hometown.
#4 – Steve Larmer – New York Rangers
The debate rages on about why Larmer’s #28 should hang in the rafters but what hurts Hawks fans is not only seeing Larmer traded, but also watching as he hoisted the Cup with the Rangers. Two years earlier, Larmer had the chance with Chicago. If you read the release, Larmer was listed as “disgruntled,” foreshadowing the coming issue for the Blackhawks that would eventually lead to Roenick, Chelios, and others leaving because of contract disputes or simply being tired of playing for a non competitive team. Perhaps it what keeps his number out of the rafters, which if it’s the reason, is a massive shame.
#3 – Chris Chelios – Detroit Red Wings
It wasn’t so much that Chelios was traded, as he was 37 years old and it appeared like his career was winding down. No, it was more of where he agreed to go. In one of the most surreal and oddest looking moments, Chris Chelios agreed to a trade to Detroit and skated out a few days later wearing the Winged Wheel. (Ironically, another player Red Wings loved to hate, Wendel Clark, also made his Detroit debut that night with Chelios). Nearly 25 years later, the trade still aggravates fans, even though Chelios returned to Chicago as an ambassador for the team.
#2 – Duncan Keith – Edmonton Oilers
Keith was traded as the Blackhawks were trying to determine their next step in whatever they were doing with their rebuild at that point. Keith would play a season in Edmonton before hanging it up, but the all but career Blackhawk wearing the Oilers sweater was jarring on a number of levels. First, it showed that the familiar faces of the Blackhawks glory days were slowly fading into the past and that two, Chicago weren’t buyers as much as they were sellers.
#1 – Patrick Kane – New York Rangers
Everyone knew it was coming. But Blackhawks fans were hardly happy about it. When Kane skated around with the Rangers jersey on, there were still many pulling for him to win a Cup with the Rangers simply because he spent his entire career in Chicago. Unlikely that he’ll return, Kane will either re-sign with New York, or go elsewhere to try and win one more Cup. But it was bizarre even for fans around the league to see Kane wearing anything but the iconic Blackhawks sweater.