In hockey, wingers have a simple job: score goals. As easy as it sounds, it takes a lot to be a top winger in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks are lucky to have had plenty of strong wingers throughout the history of their franchise, but a few stand out much more than the others.
Here is a look at the best of the best.
3. Marian Hossa
When Hossa first signed with the Hawks after two consecutive Stanley Cup Final losses with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, he told the Chicago Tribune, “When I look at Chicago, I think it’s an exciting team. They are big, strong and fast. I see a nice future in Chicago. I had a great time in Detroit. I was hoping we could get something done, but with today’s economy and the salary cap, it’s really hard to sign all of the star players on a team. I was hoping to sign a long-term deal, and Chicago made a great offer.” (from “Marian Hossa transformed the Blackhawks from wannabes to winners”, Chicago Tribune – 7/18/18).
Little did Hossa know, he would receive his first Stanley Cup less than a year later and two more would follow. He would become one of the most famous members of the franchise and become a member of the 500-goal club. Even those most optimistic about Hossa underestimated how successful he would be.
Hossa scored 525 goals and 609 assists in his 19-season long NHL career. He scored 186 goals and 229 assists during his eight seasons with the Hawks. Further solidifying his reputation as a goal-scorer, Hossa became the 44th NHL player to reach the 500-goal mark on Oct. 18, 2016.
He did not participate in the 2017-18 season due to health issues and announced he was “done playing hockey” in May 2018. In July 2018, his contract was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in a multiple-player deal.
According to Blackhawks historian Bob Verdi NHL.com:
“Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are the superstars here,” Hossa would say. “I am not a star. I just do what I do, the best I can, and I’m just a small piece of the puzzle here.”
His numbers and popularity among fans speak to the contrary. Hossa will be remembered for years to come as one of the Hawks’ greatest superstars.
2. Patrick Kane
When one looks at Kane’s career achievements, it’s hard to believe that he is only 29 years old. He is still in his prime, yet can retire tomorrow and retire a legend. Prior to the 2015-16 season, arguably the best season of his career, Kane had three Stanley Cups, an Olympic silver medal, a Calder Trophy, and a Conn Smythe Trophy under his belt. At the end of that historic season, the then-27-year-old Kane became the first American-born player to take home the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award.
It’s hard not to think of making history when one thinks of Kane. He was the first first-overall draft pick in franchise history and scored the game-winning overtime goal to win the Hawks’ first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010. In January 2017, he was one of the six active NHL players (as well as the youngest) to be added to the 100 Greatest NHL Players list.
When it comes to his accomplishments, Kane is not only proud but is sure more will come in the future, 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.”
In his 11 seasons in the NHL, all with the Hawks, Kane has tallied 312 goals and 516 assists in 822 games. He’s not only one of the best goal scorers on the Hawks, but in the NHL overall. Only a little over a decade into his career, Kane has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Hawks of all time.
1. Bobby Hull
As one of the two Hawks with a statue outside the United Center, Hull is a legend. Like Kane and Hossa, he was a prolific goal-scorer. In his 16 seasons with the NHL, 15 were with the Hawks as well as 604 of his 610 goals and 549 of his 560 assists. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 and was added to the 100 Greatest NHL Players list in 2017.
He retired in 1980 with a long list of impressive career achievements, including becoming the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season in 1965-66, three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, one Lester Patrick Trophy, one Lady Byng Trophy, and one Stanley Cup. All of these impressive achievements were in his 15 years with the Hawks.
When he departed from the Hawks after the 1971-72 season to play with the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA, losing him was something they would never forget. Teammate for 15 years Stan Mikita later told the Chicago Tribune, “After Bobby left to play for Winnipeg in the World Hockey Association, we were never the same — even to this day. Bobby was the big gun who could break the game wide open. If Bobby had been with us in ’73, we would have won the Stanley Cup, not Montreal.” (from “Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull formed special bond with Blackhawks”, Chicago Tribune – 8/7/18).
Known as the “Golden Jet,” Hull is known for having one of the best shots in NHL history. As teammate Glenn Hall, who was traded to Chicago from the Detroit Red Wings in 1957, 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.”
Hull was more than a goal scorer and made it a priority to entertain fans. According to NHL.com, Hull once said, “Fans who pay good money to watch us play hockey deserve to be royally entertained. This is show business, and we’re here to put on a show.”
Even if his statue wasn’t outside the United Center and his jersey wasn’t hanging from the rafters, Hull would still be known as the most iconic winger in franchise history. A winger’s job is to score as many goals as possible. Hull not only succeeded in that field but remains a fan favorite long after his retirement, forever cementing his legacy.
All stats are from NHL.com.
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