As the COVID-19 crisis has paused the NHL season, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the history of Chicago Blackhawks. Today we decide once and for all who the greatest forward in Blackhawks history is – Bobby Hull or Patrick Kane.
It’s important to note that Hull left the NHL for a few seasons to play in the WHL, but those stats won’t be included in this article because we are focusing on his history in the NHL, particularly with the Blackhawks.
Known as one of the best players to ever wear a Blackhawks sweater and to play in the NHL, Hull tallied a total of 610 goals and 560 assists over 1,063 games across 16 seasons. 15 of the seasons were with the Blackhawks, where he tallied a total of 604 goals and 549 assists in 1,036 games. Some of his greatest achievements include one Stanley Cup, three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, and one Lady Byng Trophy.
It’s hard to believe that a player of his caliber only has one Stanley Cup on his resume, something that he still thinks about today. He told NHL.com, “Hockey’s playoffs are an altogether different season. The regular season is over, and as intense as the fight to make the playoffs is, it gets a lot tougher. You have to increase your intensity a number of cogs because you know the opposition is, and if you don’t gear yourself up you’ll be knocked out quickly. It was important for me, the fans and the organization to go as far as we could in the playoffs. We’d won the Cup in 1961, but we wanted more than just one.”
Hull was also known for having one of the strongest shots in the history of the NHL. Former Blackhawks goaltender Glenn Hall told NHL.com, “The best part about coming to Chicago was that Bobby Hull was on my side, but I still had to face him and his shot in practice. The idea was not to stop that thing but to avoid getting killed. Every once in a while, Bobby would fire the puck and it would fly into the stands at the Stadium. If the cleaning ladies were up there, you should have seen them scatter. They looked like Olympic sprinters.”
It’s easy to argue that Kane is the strongest player on the Blackhawks as well as the strongest American-born player in the NHL. At the end of the 2015-16 season, his record-breaking 26-game point streak led him to become the first American born player to win the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award. His other achievements include his three Stanley Cups, one Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year, and one Conn Smythe Trophy.
Hull was supportive of Kane before breaking his record of a 21-game point streak (the most of anyone on the Blackhawks at the time). Kane told NBC Sports Chicago, “He was very supportive and he seems like he wants me to break the record. Hearing that support and knowing what’s in front of you, it’s pretty exciting. I’m just trying to worry about playing hockey today and even all day tomorrow. Today when I’m home relaxing, I’ll try not to think about it and just get ready for a game like I usually will.”
Before the COVID-19 pause, Kane tallied a total of 33 goals and 52 assists in 70 games. His career total is at 389 goals and 633 assists in 973 games over 13 seasons. His statistics this season, as well as in past seasons, show that consistency is one of his strengths.
Related: What Will Patrick Kane Do Next?
Kane agrees with this notion, as he told NHL.com, “Consistency is what I’m probably most proud of. I’ve had some slumps, but for the most part, I’ve been able to figure things out. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve played my whole career and I hope to play the rest of my career in Chicago. As a rookie, coming from my home in Buffalo, I was a little overwhelmed. The size of the city, the traffic. But it’s the best possible place to play hockey. The fans are unbelievable, the organization is first class, and even with the players we’ve had to let go of because of the salary cap, we’ve had a nice run. Three Stanley Cups, and it’s not over yet.”
Hull and Kane have a lot in common. They were both prolific and reliable scorers, knew how to entertain a crowd and have plenty of significant trophies on their resume. Hull has more Hart and Art Ross Trophies than Kane, but Kane also has more Stanley Cups. Hull has more goals and assists than Kane, but he also played more seasons than Kane did.
When it comes to choosing the best forward in the history of the Blackhawks, I have to go with Kane. He had three Stanley Cups by the time he was 26 years old and has time to win more trophies, but his three championship rings in a short time really go to show how good of a player he is.
Despite having fewer points than Hull, Kane is on track to have more than Hull when he retires. It’s also important to remember that Kane is only 31 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down. He could very well play throughout his 40’s and shatter every single one of Hull’s records. Time will tell who the greatest forward in Blackhawks’ history is by numbers, but Kane is well on his way.
All stats obtained from NHL.com