There are good years and there are bad years and with hockey, there is no difference. The Chicago Blackhawks’ year was full of fun, excitement and a bit of heartbreak in between during the playoffs but 2014 was one for the books. These are just a few of the standout moments that happened but still made a major impact on the team and the fans. With the way things have gone so far, 2015 will be even better as the cherry on top of everything.
1. Quenneville’s 700
There would be no good team without a good coach. Joel Quenneville became the third coach in NHL history to reach 700 wins when the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues back in March. He led his team to a Stanley Cup win in 2010, multiple playoff runs and after the second cup win in 2013, he became the only coach in franchise history to have won twice.
Back when the 700th win first happened, he didn’t really speak too much about the other 699 games in his past.
“It was a good win,” Quenneville said after the game. “I’ll take any kind of win, but I certainly liked everything about how we went about tonight’s game. It was a real solid team victory for us and something we’ve been trying to do against these guys all year.”
He has some big records of his own during his time in the NHL and because of them, he knows just what it takes to have a great team that can keep winning for years to come.
2. Soldier Field victory
Outdoor hockey games are always great but the fourth game of the Stadium Series at Soldier Field was even better for the Blackhawks when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Toews came out with two goals and an assist to help his team out but the scoring didn’t end there. Patrick Sharp shot and scored during the first period and Kris Versteeg scored his 100th career goal during the second.
The Mar. 1 game was the first win for Chicago since playing in Anaheim on Feb. 5 which made everything that much sweeter. It was definitely a beautiful winter wonderland and the crowd of over 62 thousand will always remember the day that they were dressed in endless layers and watched the puck being pushed and shoved while snow fell over the stadium.
3. Dynamic duo extensions
Was this really all too surprising for anyone? Everyone should just know by now that they’re going to be sticking around for a long time. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed eight-year extensions worth $84 million each. Both players had contacts ready to end after the 2014-15 season which meant something had to be done quick to keep the stars around.
These whopping deals may have to be changed up a bit but of course the organization acted fast just to make sure the pair stays together. Toews without Kane just doesn’t sound right. Their new deal will run until Toews is 34 and Kane is 33 and with the kind of players they are, they just might have enough energy in their tanks to keep going for a few more years.
4. The devastating loss
Since the news came out, everyone has been excited for the 2015 Winter Classic and in the middle of all of the primping and preparing, Chicago suffered the sudden loss of their assistant equipment manager, Clint Reif. EPIX, the television network that has been showing the “Road to The NHL Winter Classic” series showed just how close everyone in the Blackhawks organization really is even when his death was addressed. Viewers got to see a behind the scene look at just how much Reif contributed to his team and how much he loved his job.
A teary eyed Quenneville announced the news that Reif had passed on the series but it was still missing a major part from when Toews spoke to reporters about the loss and struggled to compose himself the entire time. Reif was more than just an employee. He was part of a giant family that’ll never forget all of the things that he did and all of the fun times they had.
5. Western Conference Finals comeback
There’s no better way to end the list than with one of the biggest comebacks of the year. Things were looking bad for Chicago in the Western Conference Finals since the Los Angeles Kings were ahead of them by three wins to their measly one game. Game 5 is when all their luck turned around.
The Kings made a total turnaround after trailing behind 3-1 in the first period and tied up the game. Leave it to the Blackhawks to fight to the finish when Michal Handzus scored at 2:04 of double overtime to get his team the 5-4 win. That put Chicago back in the running of the cup and even had their coach impressed enough to address how amazing the game really was.
“I’ve seen a lot of games, been involved in a lot of games,” said coach Quenneville after the win. “That might have been the greatest overtime I’ve seen.”