The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s most storied and successful franchises in history. They would never have gotten there if they didn’t have great players on their roster with great regularity. Over all the eras of NHL hockey in Chicago, there have to be 20 players who were the best at their respective positions who could come together in a timeless world to make up the best possible Blackhawks’ roster in history.
This series of posts is my humble attempt at making those decisions. I’ve already completed the center and left wing positions, and this post will finish up the forward group by looking at the right wings past and present who are capable of filling out the lineup.
Unlike the previous two positions, the majority of Chicago’s success with the right wing position has been very recent. There isn’t a player on this side of the depth chart who played in a Blackhawks game prior to 1980, and this is the only position for which that is true.
So without further ado, here are the four right wings who I’ve deemed to be the ones to fill the final four spots in the forward group.
1st Line: Steve Larmer
As with his hypothetical line mates Hull and Mikita, Larmer is yet another easy choice to be named the best Blackhawk of all-time at his position. Playing 891 regular season games with the club from 1980 to 1993, Larmer was good for 406 goals, 517 assists, and 923 points. As of right now, that is 366 points clear of the next most productive right wing in franchise history.
From the day Larmer became a full-time NHL player, his production was as consistent as his play was dynamic. In 11 straight seasons in which Larmer played at least 80 games (he was also a model of health), the winger never put up fewer than 70 points. In that span, he topped 80 points seven times, 90 points three times, and 100 points once. Essentially he was a sure bet to put up at least a point per game when he was in his prime.
Larmer’s career wasn’t a very decorated one with regards to individual awards, but he did win the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 1983. He also led the entire 1991 Canada Cup tournament in goals with six. At the end of the day, Larmer’s combination of high-end talent and stunning consistency make him an easy choice to join Mikita and Hull on Chicago’s best possible first line.
2nd Line: Patrick Kane
There’s an undeniable cloud of uncertainty hanging over the dynamic winger, and I’m not going to comment on that other than to say that I hope the truth comes out and that justice is served, whatever the reality dictates that those mean.
However, Kane is an absolute must to be included on this roster. The former first overall pick is still just 26 years of age, and he is already the second highest scoring right wing in franchise history. Kane also represents the only realistic visibile threat to ever unseat Larmer as the Blackhawks’ best right wing of all time.
Kane’s list of accomplishments speak for themselves. He won the Calder Trophy in 2008. He was a first team NHL All-Star in 2010. He’s participated in 4 All-Star games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs in 2013, and of course there’s the three Stanley Cups the Blackhawks have won with Kane leading the offensive charge. Kane is the youngest player to make this roster, and it’s very easy to see why.
3rd Line: Marian Hossa
Hossa’s inclusion on the third line marks the second consecutive current player at the right wing position. He hasn’t been with the Blackhawks for very long, having been with the team for just six years. However, his arrival in the Second City coincides directly with the beginning of the Blackhawks’ quasi-dynastic run of three league championships in six years. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it’s very possible that Hossa was the support piece that put the core of Toews, Kane, and Keith over the top and into true contending status.
Hossa only ranks 12th in history in points among Blackhawks right wings, but that is entirely due to the fact that his time with the club has been relatively short. He’s played just 397 games with the franchise, but the two players right behind him played 574 and 657 games in higher scoring eras.
Like Larmer, Hossa is both remarkably gifted and amazingly consistent. Since joining the Blackhawks, Hossa is 43rd among all skaters with 194 points at even strength. If the ranking of 43rd sounds a bit underwhelming, consider that he has more of such points than players like Pavel Datsyuk, Zach Parise, and Max Pacioretty in the same time frame. Hossa’s time with the Blackhawks may not be very long when it’s all said and done, but it certainly will have been very impactful. So impactful that I don’t think it really should be up for debate whether or not he makes this roster.
4th Line: Tony Amonte
Amonte rounds out the group of right wingers and joins Al Secord and Jonathan Toews on the team’s fourth line. Much like Secord, Amonte wasn’t over large at just six feet tall and weighing 202 pounds, but he always made sure the other team knew when he was on the ice.
Amonte was primarily a goal scorer. In a Blackhawks uniform, he amassed at least 30 goals six times and at least 40 goals three times. His longevity and consistency with the franchise are the main reasons that he ranks third all-time among Blackhawks right wings in points.
Unfortunately for Amonte, the Blackhawks were never much of a league-wide threat during his time with the team. In his eight full seasons with the club, Chicago made the playoffs just four times. That doesn’t take away from his impressive contributions to the franchise, and he’s a fine choice to round out what would be one hell of a fourth line.
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So now that I’ve completed the forward portion of my all-time best Blackhawks roster, here’s an easy look at how the offensive group shakes out for me:
Bobby Hull – Stan Mikita – Steve Larmer
Doug Bentley – Denis Savard – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Jeremy Roenick – Marian Hossa
Al Secord – Jonathan Toews – Tony Amonte
There certainly are a number of other players who were worthy of consideration for this portion of the roster that didn’t quite make my cut. If you’d like to make a case for Bill Mosienko, Jim Pappan, or Kenny Wharram to be on this roster ahead of any of my selections, feel free to do so in the comments.
As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this dream team with the defensemen and the goalies coming soon!