An interesting debate has arisen since the announcement that Chris Chelios’ number would be retired by the Chicago Blackhawks. Some fans believe it should have been done along with Brent Seabrook. Others think it’s correct in terms of ordering.
Yet there’s another portion of the base that believes there should be a Blackhawks Hall of Fame instead of just retiring numbers willy nilly. That too has a point.
So Yea or Nay: A Hall of Fame instead of just retiring numbers?
Yea: A Blackhawks Hall of Fame Makes More Sense
Here’s an example outside of hockey. The New England Patriots had Tom Brady back for week one and owner Robert Kraft is waiving the four-year period to automatically let Brady into the team’s Hall of Fame.
#Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that he’s waiving the four-year wait period and placing Tom Brady in the Patriots Hall of Fame next spring.
That will take place on June 12th (6/12).
Because … 6 rings for #12 pic.twitter.com/AUkdmKeAzd
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 10, 2023
Brady is a no doubt Hall of Famer in Canton, too. He’ll likely go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterback of all time. Yes, his number will be retired by the Patriots, too. But his hall of fame entrance along with players who don’t have their numbers retired shows that the idea works.
Drew Bledsoe, whose injury opened the door for Brady in 2001, is in the hall of fame. But his number is not retired by the team. He still earns the respect of the organization and is immortalized for fans. But his number will not be put aside. Bledsoe, despite the important he had on the organization along with the gawdy numbers he put up, is not in the pro football Hall of Fame.
But he in the Patriots Hall of Fame, earning status that will ensure his accomplishments to the organization were not glossed over.
How would this then apply to the Blackhawks? There are a number of fan favorites who might not be worthy enough to have their number retired but deserve their own spot of immortality within the organization. This would no doubt be something to consider–and would be wildly popular. Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick, and even Chelios could fall into this category.
But there are those who will argue that their contributions were in a different time and blighted by the fact that the owner didn’t invest as heavily as the latter owner would when Chicago collected three Cups.
A Hall of Fame would give due honor to memorable, but not necessarily legendary that often mean raising a number to the rafters.
Nay – Retire the Number As They See Fit
Chelios played in a decade where Blackhawks ownership wasn’t exactly going to roll out the red carpet for free agents or even re-sign their own great players. Larmer held out and was traded. Roenick rejected the Blackhawks offer and was traded to the Coyotes. Chelios was shipped to Detroit because the team thought his best days were behind him, and it was going down a rebuild road of sorts.
How is it fair, when all three mentioned above, were star players on a team that wasn’t properly supported by its ownership? That in 1992 they ran into an absolute buzzsaw called the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. Bill Wirtz wouldn’t add to try and rectify it. He simply took away from it.
Chicago went through a slow descent that finally bottomed out in 1998 when it failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 28 seasons. They’d made it just once in the next 11.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith all had a different experience. Besides playing in a more even league financially, the Blackhawks drafted, developed, traded, and signed their way to three Stanley Cups. Sure, they didn’t always win every season but the effort to win–or at least try–was always there.
This is through no fault of their’s–sometimes timing is everything. Chelios, Belfour, Larmer, and Roenick had but a flicker of time to find victory. It came without the full support of its organization.
The numbers and accomplishments from their playing days certainly argue for recognition. Why not see their number hang above the ice?