The Blockbuster That Brought Lysiak to Chicago
Tom Lysiak joined the Chicago Blackhawks (then Black Hawks) in the middle of the 1978-79 season, playing eight years with the Hawks. He came to the Hawks via a late season 8-player blockbuster trade, a record number of relocations between the two teams, at the time. Lysiak was devastated by the news, but that had very little effect on his play.
Throughout his fourteen year NHL career, Lysiak recorded 843 points (292 goals, 551 assists) in 919 regular season games played. Lysiak was a very mobile skater, at a time when many players still lumbered along, with very little finesse. He was also a key part of the Blackhawks power play unit, killed off penalties, and worked on both sides of the puck. A blue-collar kind of player, with top end skill, which was not commonplace in that era of hockey. Lysiak was a dominant scoring force throughout most of his career, scoring 60, or more points in ten of the fourteen seasons that he played.
— Ultimate Leafs Fan (@ULeafsFan) August 14, 2015
October 30, 1983
However, those skills aren’t the only thing that he is remembered for, in fact, most will also recall an incident that occurred on October 30, 1983.
During a game against the Hartford Whalers, Lysiak had been bounced from the face-off circle a number of times, before he had finally had enough. He patiently watched from behind the play, waiting for the puck to be dropped, before he jabbed his stick in behind linesman Ron Foyt’s knee, sending him to the ground. Foyt was not injured, however, the referee Dave Newell quickly handed down the automatic punishment for interfering with an official. Lysiak was hit with a 20-game suspension, the longest suspension given to any player up to that point. An appeal was filed; however, the NHLPA was unable to get the suspension lifted or reduced. As the appeal was made, the officials were rumored to be considering a walkout, had the suspension been reduced. (NYTimes) The Officials had had enough, and they were more than willing to take a stand against the NHLPA, if the original ruling had not been upheld.
When Lysiak returned from his suspension, he was not the same player that he once was. His numbers continued to decline and ultimately, Lysiak decided to retire after the 1985-86 season. He returned to a suburb of Atlanta, where his professional career had started some fourteen years earlier to spend time with his family in the city that he had never intended to leave. Lysiak has returned to Chicago on a few occasions as he remains a big part of the Blackhawks history. He may not have considered Chicago home, but the Blackhawks will always consider him family.