|2018–19 Chicago Blackhawks season|
|History||Chicago Black Hawks
|Home arena||United Center|
|Media||Comcast SportsNet Chicago
WGN Radio (720 AM)
|General manager||Stan Bowman|
|Head coach||Joel Quenneville|
|Minor league affiliates||Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Indy Fuel (ECHL)
|Stanley Cups||6 (1933–34, 1937–38, 1960–61, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2014–15)|
|Conference championships||4 (1991–92, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2014–15)|
|Presidents' Trophy||2 (1990–91, 2012–13)|
|Division championships||16 (1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1982–83, 1985–86, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2016–17)|
The Chicago Blackhawks (spelled Black Hawks until 1986, and known colloquially as the Hawks) are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They have won six Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926. The Blackhawks are one of the "Original Six" NHL teams along with the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Since 1994, the club's home rink is the United Center, which they share with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. The club had previously played for 65 years at Chicago Stadium.
The club's original owner was Frederic McLaughlin, who owned the club until his death in 1944. Under McLaughlin, a "hands-on" owner who fired many coaches during his ownership, the club won two Stanley Cup titles. The club was then owned by the Norris family, who as owners of the Chicago Stadium were the club's landlord, and owned stakes in several of the NHL teams. At first, the Norris ownership was as part of a syndicate fronted by long-time executive Bill Tobin, and the team languished in favor of the Norris-owned Detroit Red Wings. After the senior James E. Norris died in 1952, the Norris assets were spread among family members and James D. Norris became owner. Norris Jr. took an active interest in the team and under his ownership, the club won one Stanley Cup title in 1961.
After James D. Norris died in 1966, the Wirtz family became owners of the franchise. In 2007, the club came under the control of Rocky Wirtz, who is credited with turning around the organization, which had lost fan interest and competitiveness. Under Rocky Wirtz, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup three times within six seasons (from 2010 to 2015).
On May 1, 1926, the NHL awarded an expansion franchise for Chicago to a syndicate headed by former football star Huntington Hardwick of Boston. At the same meeting, Hardwick arranged the purchase of the players of the Portland Rosebuds of the Western Hockey League for $100,000 from WHL President Frank Patrick in a deal brokered by Boston Bruins' owner Charles Adams. However, only one month later, Hardwick's group sold out to Chicago coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin.
McLaughlin had been a commander with the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I. This Division was nicknamed the "Blackhawk Division" after a Native American of the Sauk nation, Black Hawk, who was a prominent figure in the history of Illinois. McLaughlin named the new hockey team in honor of the military unit, making it one of many sports team names using Native Americans as icons. However, unlike the military division, the team's name was spelled in two words as the "Black Hawks" until 1986, when the club officially became the "Blackhawks," based on the spelling found in the original franchise documents.
The Black Hawks began play in the 1926–27 season, along with new expansion franchises Detroit Cougars and New York Rangers. The team had to face immediate competition in Chicago from Eddie Livingstone's rival Chicago Cardinals, which played in the same building. McLaughlin took a very active role in running the team despite having no background in the sport. McLaughlin hired Bill Tobin, a former goaltender who had played in the Western league, as his assistant, but directed the team himself. He was also very interested in promoting American hockey players, then very rare in professional hockey. Several of them, including Doc Romnes, Taffy Abel, Alex Levinsky, Mike Karakas and Cully Dahlstrom, become staples with the club, and under McLaughlin, the Black Hawks were the first NHL team with an all-American-born lineup.
The McLaughlin era (1926–1944)Edit
The Hawks' first season was a moderate success. They played their first game on November 17 when they played the Toronto St. Patricks in the Chicago Coliseum. The Black Hawks won their first game 4–1, in front of a crowd of over 7,000. They ended up finishing the season in third place with a record of 19–22–3. The Black Hawks lost the 1927 first-round playoff series to the Boston Bruins.
Following the series, McLaughlin fired head coach Pete Muldoon. According to Jim Coleman, sportswriter for the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, McLaughlin felt the 'Hawks were good enough to finish first. Muldoon disagreed, and in a fit of pique, McLaughlin fired him. According to Coleman, Muldoon responded by yelling, "Fire me, Major, and you'll never finish first. I'll put a curse on this team that will hoodoo it until the end of time." The Curse of Muldoon was born – although Coleman admitted years after the fact that he had fabricated the whole incident – and became one of the first widely known sports "curses." While the team would go on to win three Stanley Cups in its first 39 years of existence, it did so without ever having finished in first place, either in a single- or multi-division format. The Black Hawks proceeded to have the worst record in the League in 1927–28, winning only seven of 44 games.
For the 1928–29 season, the Black Hawks were originally slated to play in the new Chicago Stadium, but due to construction delays and a dispute between McLaughlin and Chicago Stadium promoter Paddy Harmon, the Black Hawks instead divided their time between the Coliseum, the Detroit Olympia and the Peace Bridge Arena in Fort Erie, Ontario. They moved to Chicago Stadium the following season.
By 1931, they reached their first Stanley Cup Final, with goal-scorer Johnny Gottselig, Cy Wentworth on defense, and Charlie Gardiner in goal, but fizzled in the final two games against the Montreal Canadiens. Chicago had another stellar season in 1932, but that did not translate into playoff success. However, two years later, Gardiner led his team to victory by shutting out the Detroit Red Wings in the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals. The score after double overtime was 1–0.
In 1938, the Black Hawks had a record of 14–25–9, and almost missed the playoffs. They stunned the Canadiens and New York Americans on overtime goals in the deciding games of both semi-final series, advancing to the 1938 Stanley Cup Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Black Hawks goalie Mike Karakas was injured and could not play, forcing a desperate Chicago team to pull minor-leaguer (Pittsburgh Hornets) Alfie Moore out of a Toronto bar and onto the ice. Moore played one game and won it. Toronto refused to let Moore play the next, and Chicago used Paul Goodman in game two and lost the game. However, for games three and four, Karakas was fitted with a special skate to protect his injured toe, and the team won both games. It was too late for Toronto, as the Hawks won their second championship. As of 2014[update], the 1938 Black Hawks possess the poorest regular-season record of any Stanley Cup champion.
The Black Hawks returned to the Finals in 1944 behind Doug Bentley's 38-goal season with linemate Clint Smith leading the team in assists. After upsetting the Red Wings in the semi-finals, they were promptly dispatched by the dominant Canadiens in four games.
The Norris era (1944–1966)Edit
Owner and founder Frederic McLaughlin died in December 1944. His estate sold the team to a syndicate headed by longtime team president Bill Tobin. However, Tobin was only a puppet for James E. Norris, who owned the rival Red Wings. Norris had also been the Black Hawks' landlord since his 1936 purchase of Chicago Stadium. For the next eight years, the Norris-Tobin ownership, as a rule, paid almost no attention to the Black Hawks. Nearly every trade made between Detroit and Chicago ended up being Red Wing heists. As a result, for the next several years, Chicago was the model of futility in the NHL. Between 1945 and 1958, they only made the playoffs twice.
Upon Norris' death, his eldest son, James D. Norris, and Red Wings minority owner Arthur Wirtz (the senior Norris' original partner in buying the Red Wings 23 years earlier) took over the floundering club. They guided it through financial reverses, and rebuilt the team from there. One of their first moves was to hire former Detroit coach and General Manager Tommy Ivan as general manager.
In the late 1950s, the Hawks struck gold, picking up three young prospects (forwards Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita and defenseman Pierre Pilote), as well as obtaining both star goaltender Glenn Hall and veteran forward Ted Lindsay (who had just had a career season with 30 goals and 55 assists) from Detroit. Hull, Mikita, Pilote and Hall became preeminent stars in Chicago, and all four would eventually be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
After two first-round exits at the hands of the eventual champions from Montreal in 1959 and 1960, it was expected that the Canadiens would once again beat the Hawks when they met in the semi-finals in 1961. A defensive plan that completely wore down Montreal's superstars worked, however, as Chicago won the series in six games. They then bested the Wings to win their third Stanley Cup championship.
The Hawks made the Cup Finals twice more in the 1960s, losing to the Leafs in 1962 and the Canadiens in 1965. They remained a force to be reckoned with throughout the decade, with Hull enjoying four 50-goal seasons, Mikita winning back-to-back scoring titles and MVP accolades, Pilote winning three consecutive Norris Trophies, and Hall being named the First or Second All-Star goaltender eight out of nine seasons. Hull and Mikita especially were widely regarded as the most feared one-two punch in the league. However, despite a strong supporting cast which included Bill Hay, Ken Wharram, Phil Esposito, Moose Vasko, Doug Mohns and Pat Stapleton, the Hawks never quite put it all together.
In 1966–67, the last season of the six-team NHL, the Black Hawks finished first, breaking the supposed Curse of Muldoon, 23 years after the death of Frederic McLaughlin. However, they lost in the semi-finals to Toronto, who went on to win their last Stanley Cup to date. Afterward, Coleman, who first printed the story of the curse in 1943, admitted that he made the story up to break a writer's block he had as a column deadline approached.
The Arthur Wirtz era (1966–1983)Edit
James D. Norris died in 1966. One of his last moves in the NHL was to arrange an expansion franchise in St. Louis, where he owned the St. Louis Arena. Tobin died in 1963, a club vice-president until his death. The ownership of the Black Hawks now came under the control of Arthur Wirtz and his son Bill Wirtz.
Hall was drafted by the expansion St. Louis Blues for the 1967–68 season, while Pilote was traded to the Maple Leafs for Jim Pappin in 1968. In the 1968–69 season, despite Hull breaking his own previous record of 54 goals in a season with 58, the Black Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 1958—and the last time before 1997–98.
In 1967, the Black Hawks made a trade with the Boston Bruins that turned out to be one of the most one-sided in the history of the sport. Chicago sent young forwards Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston in exchange for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte. While Martin would star for the Hawks for many seasons, Esposito, Hodge, and Stanfield would lead the Bruins to the top of the league for several years and capture two Stanley Cups. In Boston, Phil Esposito set numerous scoring records en route to a career as one of the NHL's all-time greats.
Nonetheless, in 1970–71 NHL season, life was made easier for Chicago, as in an attempt to better balance the divisions, the expansion Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks were both placed in the East Division, while the Hawks moved into the West Division. They became the class of the West overnight, rampaging to a 46–17–15 record and an easy first-place finish. With second-year goalie Tony Esposito (Phil's younger brother and winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year the previous season), Hull, his younger brother Dennis, Mikita, and sterling defensemen Stapleton, Keith Magnuson and Bill White, the Hawks reached the Stanley Cup final before bowing out to the Canadiens.
A critical blow to the franchise came in 1972–73, though, with the start of the World Hockey Association. Long dissatisfied with how little he was paid as the league's marquee star, Bobby Hull jumped to the upstart Winnipeg Jets for a million-dollar contract. Former Philadelphia Flyers star Andre Lacroix, who received very little ice time in his single season in Chicago, joined Hull, and the pair became two of the WHA's great stars. The Hawks repeated their appearance in Cup Final that year, however, again losing to Montreal. Stapleton left for the WHA too after that year, depleting the team further.
While the team led or was second in the West Division for four straight seasons, for the rest of the 1970s, the Black Hawks made the playoffs each year—winning seven division championships in the decade in all—but were never a successful Stanley Cup contender, losing 16 straight playoff games at one point. The team acquired legendary blueliner Bobby Orr from the Boston Bruins in 1976, but ill health forced him to sit out for most of the season, and he eventually retired in 1979, having played only 26 games for the Hawks. Mikita did the same the following year after playing 22 years in Chicago, the third-longest career for a single team in league history.
By 1982, the Black Hawks squeaked into the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Norris Division (at the time the top four teams in each division automatically made the playoffs), and were one of the league's Cinderella teams that year. Led by second-year Denis Savard's 32 goals and 119 points and Doug Wilson's 39 goals, the Hawks stunned the Minnesota North Stars and Blues in the playoffs before losing to another surprise team, the Vancouver Canucks, who made the Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago proved they were no fluke the next season, also making the third round before losing to the eventual runner-up Edmonton Oilers. After an off-year in 1984, the Hawks again faced a now fresh-off-a-ring Edmonton offensive juggernaut of a team and lost in the third round in 1985.
The Bill Wirtz era (1983–2007)Edit
In 1983, Arthur Wirtz died and the club came under the sole control of Bill Wirtz. Although the Black Hawks continued to make the playoffs each season, the club began a slow decline, punctuated with an appearance in the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.
Moreover, prior to the 1986–87 season, while going through the team's records, someone discovered the team's original NHL contract, and found that the name "Blackhawks" was printed as a compound word as opposed to two separate words, "Black Hawks," which was the way most sources had been printing it for 60 years and as the team had always officially listed it. The name officially became "Chicago Blackhawks" from that point on.
In the late 1980s, Chicago still made the playoffs on an annual basis, but made early-round exits each time.
In 1988–89, after three-straight first-round defeats, and despite a fourth-place finish in their division in the regular season, Chicago made it to the Conference Final in the rookie seasons of both goalie Ed Belfour and center Jeremy Roenick. Once again, however, they would fail to make the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the eventual champions, the Calgary Flames.
The following season, the Hawks did prove they were late-round playoff material, running away with the Norris Division title, but, yet again, the third round continued to stymie them, this time against the eventual champion Oilers, despite 1970s Soviet star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak coming to Chicago to become the Blackhawks' goaltender coach.
In 1990–91, Chicago was poised to fare even better in the playoffs, winning the Presidents' Trophy for best regular-season record, but the Minnesota North Stars stunned them in six games in the first-round en route to an improbable Stanley Cup Final appearance.
In 1991–92 the Blackhawks – with Roenick scoring 53 goals, Steve Larmer scoring 29 goals, Chris Chelios (acquired from Montreal two years previously) on defense, and Belfour in goal – finally reached the Final after 19 years out of such status. The Blackhawks won 11 consecutive playoff games that year, which set an NHL record. However, they were swept four games to none by the Mario Lemieux-led defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (who, in sweeping the Blackhawks, tied the record Chicago had set only days before). Although the 4–0 sweep indicates Pittsburgh's dominance in won games, it was actually a close series that could have gone either way. Game 1 saw the Blackhawks squander leads of 3–0 and 4–1, and would eventually be beaten 5–4 after a Lemieux power-play goal with 9 seconds remaining in regulation. The Blackhawks most lackluster game was game two, losing 3–1. A frustrating loss of 1–0 followed in game three, and a natural hat trick from Dirk Graham and stellar play from Dominik Hasek (who showed indications of the goaltender he would later become) could not secure a win in game four, which ended in 6–5 final in favor of Pittsburgh. The defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls were in their finals in 1992, but won their championship in six. Although this was the only year the city of Chicago would host a concurrent NBA/NHL finals in the same year, Blackhawks head coach Mike Keenan would see this again in New York when he coached the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994.
Belfour posted a 40-win season in 1992–93 as the Hawks looked to go deep yet again, and Chelios accumulated career-high penalty time with 282 minutes in the box, but St. Louis stunned Chicago with a first-round sweep to continue Chicago's playoff losing streak.
Although they finished near .500 in 1994, the Blackhawks again qualified for the playoffs. They were eliminated by eventual Western Conference finalist Toronto, but broke their playoff losing streak at 10 games with a game three win. It wasn't enough, however, and the Blackhawks fell in six games. The 1993–94 season also marked the Blackhawks' last at the old Chicago Stadium, and the team moved into the new United Center in the lockout-shortened 1995 season. Bernie Nicholls and Joe Murphy both scored 20 goals over 48 games, and Chicago once again made it to the Western Conference Final, losing to the rival Detroit Red Wings. Also in 1994, management fired Wayne Messmer, popular singer of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Roenick, Belfour and Chelios were all traded away as the Blackhawks faltered through the late 1990s until they missed the playoffs by five points in 1998 for the first time in 29 years, one season short of tying the Boston Bruins' record for the longest such streak in North American professional sports history. Chicago would also miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season in 1999, and would later miss the playoffs in 2000 and 2001.
The millennium started with disappointment for the Blackhawks. Éric Daze, Alexei Zhamnov and Tony Amonte emerged as some of the team's leading stars by this time. However, aside from a quick first-round exit in 2002 (where they lost to the Blues in five games after winning Game 1 of the series), the 'Hawks were consistently out of the playoffs from the 1997–98 season until the 2008–09 season, in most years finishing well out of contention, despite finishing in third place in the Central Division six times. Amonte left for the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2002.
During the 2002–03 season, the Blackhawks finished third in the Central Division with 79 points, but would finish ninth in the Western Conference, which would make them miss the playoffs by 13 points.
A somber note was struck in February 2004 when ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in professional sports. Indeed, the Blackhawks were viewed with much indifference by Chicagoans for much of the 1990s and early 2000s due to anger over several policies instituted by then-owner Bill Wirtz, who was derisively known as "Dollar Bill". For example, Wirtz did not allow home games to be televised in the Chicago area, claiming it was unfair to the team's season ticket holders. He also raised ticket prices to an average of $50, among the most expensive in the NHL. The Chicago Wolves, an American Hockey League team based in Rosemont, Illinois, mocked the Blackhawks' struggle by creating a marketing slogan, "We Play Hockey The Old-Fashioned Way: We Actually Win."
Following the lockout of the 2004–05 season, new GM Dale Tallon set about restructuring the team in the hopes of making a playoff run. Tallon made several moves in the summer of 2005, most notably the signing of Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and All-Star defenseman Adrian Aucoin. However, injuries plagued Khabibulin and Aucoin, among others, and the Blackhawks again finished well out of the playoffs with a 26–43–13 record – next-to-last in the Western Conference and the second-worst in the NHL.
The Blackhawks reached another low point on May 16, 2006, when they announced that popular TV/radio play-by-play announcer Pat Foley was not going to be brought back after 25 years with the team, a move unpopular amongst most Blackhawks fans. Foley then became the television/radio voice of the Chicago Wolves.
The Blackhawks were eager to make a splash in the free-agent market, and offered big money to many of the top free agents. They were, however, denied, only being able to acquire two backup goaltenders in Patrick Lalime and Sebastien Caron. Chicago was one of the biggest buyers in the trade market, though, acquiring a future franchise player in left-winger Martin Havlat, as well as center Bryan Smolinski from the Ottawa Senators in a three-way deal that also involved the San Jose Sharks. The 'Hawks dealt forward Mark Bell to the Sharks, Michal Barinka and a 2008 second-round draft pick to the Senators, while Ottawa also received defenseman Tom Preissing and center Josh Hennessy from San Jose. Havlat gave the Blackhawks the talented, first-line caliber gamebreaker they so desperately needed. The Havlat trade was soon followed by another major trade – winger and key Blackhawk player Kyle Calder was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for grinding defensive center Michal Handzus. The move caused a stir in Chicago; Calder had won an increase in his contract through arbitration, which was accepted by the Hawks, but rather than ink their leading scorer, the Blackhawks decided to address their need for a proven center by acquiring Handzus. Injuries to both Havlat and Handzus hurt the Blackhawks, and Smolinski was eventually traded at the trade deadline to the Vancouver Canucks. On November 26, 2006, Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon fired head coach Trent Yawney and appointed assistant coach Denis Savard as the head coach. Savard had been the assistant coach of the Blackhawks since 1997, the year after he retired as one of the most popular and successful Blackhawks players of all time. The Blackhawks continued to struggle, and finished last in the Central Division, 12 points out of the playoffs.
They finished with the fourth worst record in the NHL, and in the Draft Lottery, won the opportunity to select first overall in the draft, whereas the team had never had a draft pick higher than third overall. They used the pick to draft right wing Patrick Kane from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
The Rocky Wirtz era (2007–present)Edit
On September 26, 2007, Bill Wirtz, the longtime owner of the Blackhawks, died after a brief battle with cancer. He was succeeded by his son, Rocky, who drastically altered his father's long-standing policies.
Midway into the 2007–08 NHL season, the franchise experimented with a partnership with Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV by airing selected Blackhawks home games on television. During the next season, Comcast and WGN began airing all of the team's regular season games. Rocky also named John McDonough, formerly the president of the Chicago Cubs, as the franchise's new president. Since taking over the position, McDonough has been an instrumental figure in the Blackhawks current marketing success. Wirtz was also able to bring back former Blackhawks greats Tony Esposito, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, as the franchise's "hockey ambassadors."
In addition to the changes in the team's policies and front office, the younger Wirtz also made a concerted effort to rebuild the team. The Blackhawks roster was bolstered by the addition of Patrick Kane, the first overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who led all rookies in points. Kane and Jonathan Toews were finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's best rookie. Kane ultimately beat his teammate for the award. Kane finished the 2007–08 season with 21 goals and 51 assists in 82 games. The Blackhawks finished with a record of 40–34–8, missing the playoffs by three points. The 2007–08 season marked the first time in six years that the team finished above .500.
Prior to the 2008–09 season opener, the Blackhawks named Toews, at 20 years and 79 days, as the new captain, succeeding the traded Lapointe and making him the third-youngest captain at the time of appointment. In addition to a new caption, the Blackhawks made several major roster changes before the 2008–09 NHL season. The team traded Tuomo Ruutu, their longest tenured player, to the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Andrew Ladd on February 26, 2008. Later that day, the Blackhawks traded captain Martin Lapointe to the Ottawa Senators for a sixth-round draft pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. On the first day of free agency, July 1, the team signed goaltender Cristobal Huet to a four-year US$22.5 million contract, and later signed defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract. The team also added former coaches Joel Quenneville and Scotty Bowman to their organization.
On February 13, 2008, the Blackhawks announced they would hold their first fan convention. On July 16, 2008, the team announced that they would host the 2009 NHL Winter Classic on a temporary ice rink at Wrigley Field on New Years Day against fellow "Original Six" member Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit Red Wings defeated Chicago, 6–4. On June 16, Pat Foley returned as the Blackhawks TV play-by-play man, replacing Dan Kelly. Foley called Blackhawk games from 1981 to 2006 and spent the next two years broadcasting for the Chicago Wolves. Foley was partnered with Eddie Olczyk to broadcast all of the Hawks games. The Blackhawks relieved Denis Savard of his head coaching duties, and replaced him with Joel Quenneville on October 16, 2008. Savard has since been brought back to the organization as an ambassador.
The Blackhawks finished the 2008–2009 regular season in second place in their division, with a record of 46–24–12, putting them in fourth place in the Western Conference with 104 points. The Blackhawks clinched a playoff berth for the first time since the 2001–02 season with a 3–1 win over Nashville on April 3. On April 8, with a shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks clinched their first 100-point season in 17 years. The Blackhawks beat the fifth-seeded Calgary Flames in six games to advance to the Western Conference Semi-finals for the first time since 1996. The team proceeded to defeat the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks in six games. The Blackhawks played the then Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings, for the Western Conference Championship. They lost the series to the Red Wings in five games.
During the 2008–09 season, the team led the League in home attendance with a total of 912,155, averaging 22,247 fans per game. This figure includes the 40,818 fans from the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Therefore, the total attendance for games hosted at the United Center is 871,337, good for an average of 21,783 which still leads the league over Montreal's 21,273 average. The Blackhawks welcomed their one millionth fan of the season at the United Center before game six of the Western Conference semi-finals on May 11, 2009.
2009–10: The Stanley Cup returns to ChicagoEdit
Prior to the 2009–10 NHL season, the Blackhawks made another major free agent purchase, signing Marian Hossa to a 12-year contract worth US$62.8 million. The team also acquired Tomas Kopecky, John Madden, and Richard Petiot. In early July, General Manager Dale Tallon and the Blackhawks management came under fire when the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) claimed the team did not submit offers to their restricted free agents before the deadline. In the worst-case scenario, the team's unsigned restricted free agents at the time, including Calder Memorial Trophy finalist Kris Versteeg, would have become unrestricted free agents. Despite the ordeal, the Blackhawks were able to sign Versteeg and all of their restricted free agents before the NHLPA could take further actions. On July 14, 2009, The Blackhawks demoted Tallon to the position of Senior Adviser. Stan Bowman, son of Scotty Bowman, was promoted to general manager. The Blackhawks continued to sell out games, with the best average attendance of 21,356 over Montreal's 21,273 in the NHL, and had a total of 854,267 excluding the playoffs. The Blackhawks reached the one million mark in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.
The Blackhawks re-signed Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to contract extensions worth $31.5 million over five years, and Duncan Keith to a 13-year extension worth $72 million on December 1, 2009. On April 6, 2010, the Hawks won their 50th game of the 2009–10 season against the Dallas Stars, setting a new franchise record for wins in a season. The next night, April 7, the Hawks notched their 109th point of the season against the St. Louis Blues, setting another franchise record.
The Blackhawks made the playoffs for the second consecutive season with a regular-season record of 52–22–8. They defeated the Nashville Predators in six games in the first round, before defeating the third-seeded Canucks for the second straight year, again in six games. The Blackhawks then swept the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.The team advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992, where they played the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks prevailed in six games to secure their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history. The victory also ended the team's 49-year championship drought.
The Blackhawks immediately faced salary cap constraints prior to the 2010–11 NHL season. The team was forced to trade many players who played an integral role to their 2009–10 Stanley Cup victory, including Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Brent Sopel , Ben Eager, and Colin Fraser. The team was also unable to agree to terms with starting goaltender Antti Niemi, who left as restricted free agent to the San Jose Sharks. The Blackhawks signed journeyman Marty Turco as his replacement, but eventfully turned to rookie Corey Crawford to become their full-time starting goaltender. The Blackhawks also made a mid-season trade to acquire winger Michael Frolík from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan.
Amidst the roster turnaround, the Blackhawks finished the season with a 44–29–9 record and placed third in the Central Division and eight in Western Conference. The team's playoff fate was determined on the final day of regular season. The Blackhawks lost their regular season finale to the Detroit Red Wings, but received the final seed in the Western Conference after the Minnesota Wild defeated the Dallas Stars. In the first round of the 2011 playoffs, the Blackhawks faced the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, which marked the third consecutive post-season the two teams faced each other. The Canucks built a 3–0 lead in the series before the Blackhawks were able to win three games in a row. Alex Burrows won Game 7 for the Canucks in overtime, 2–1.
Before the 2011–12 NHL season, the Blackhawks continued to make roster moves to optimize their salary cap situation. The team traded Troy Brouwer to the Washington Capitals for the 26th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (Phillip Danault). The Blackhawks also traded defenseman Brian Campbell, who had one of the richest contracts in the franchise's history, to the Florida Panthers. The team bolstered their forward depth by signing veterans Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, and Andrew Brunette, while also acquiring goaltender Ray Emery to back-up Crawford. The Blackhawks called-up prospects Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Nick Leddy and Marcus Krüger, who became regular starters.
The Blackhawks placed fourth in Central Division with 45–26–11 and qualified for the postseason for a fourth consecutive season. They faced the Phoenix Coyotes in the opening round, who ousted the Blackhawks in six games. The series saw five of the six games going to overtime, with Bryan Bickell (game two) and Jonathan Toews (game five) scoring the only Blackhawk overtime winners of the series.
2012–13: Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley CupEdit
The Blackhawks started the shortened 2012–13 season with much success, by establishing several new franchise and NHL records. On January 27, 2013, the Blackhawks set a new franchise record for starting the season 6–0–0 with a win against the Detroit Red Wings. On February 19 the Blackhawks tied the NHL record previously set by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006–07 season for earning points in the first 16 consecutive games of a season, and beat the Ducks record (28 points) by one point. On March 6, the Blackhawks extended the NHL record to 24 games with a record of 21–0–3, and the franchise record for most consecutive wins to 11 games. However, The Blackhawks lost 6–2 to the Colorado Avalanche on March 8. It was their first loss in regulation and ended their 24-game streak in which they earned at least one point, an NHL record to start a season. The point streak was the third-longest in NHL history.
The United Center also recorded its 200th consecutive combined regular season and playoff Blackhawks sell-out on March 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which began during the 2007–08 season with the game on March 30, 2008 against the Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks won the 2012–13 President's Trophy for the best regular season record in the league and clinched home-ice advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs. After dispatching the Minnesota Wild in the first round, the Blackhawks faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semi-finals. After winning the series opener, the Blackhawks lost the next three games, putting Chicago on the edge of elimination. However, the Blackhawks clawed back, eventually winning the series on a goal by Brent Seabrook in overtime of Game 7. The team then defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games to secure a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in four seasons.
The Blackhawks faced the Boston Bruins, another Original Six team, in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. It was the first time since 1979 that two Original Six teams have made the Stanley Cup Finals and the first time since 1945 that the last four teams to win the Stanley Cup were in the Conference Finals. The Bruins made their second appearance in the Finals in three years (winning in 2011) and were making a similar resurgence as the Blackhawks. On June 24, the Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins in the sixth game of the Stanley Cup Final to win the Stanley Cup for the 2012–13 NHL season, having overcome a 2–1 deficit with just over a minute remaining. Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored goals with 1:16 and 0:58.3 remaining in the game, just 17 seconds apart, to win 3–2.