(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Fork & CT of Hockeenight
Most Disappointing Team: 1990-1991 Chicago Blackhawks
The 1991 Hawks looked like the real deal. They finished the season with the best record in hockey. The Oilers were being broken up, and there was word that Mark Messier was on his way out there. The Kings were a one-line team. St. Louis had Hull and Oates, and not much else.
The Hawks were tough and talented. Steve Larmer had his customary Steve Larmer year, and Jeremy Roenick emerged as the superstar we all know now.
Chris Chelios came aboard, as there was a swap of hometown boys, with Denis Savard going home to Montreal. Dirk Graham and Troy Murray were two of the best shutdown forwards in the world.
Then there was Eddie.
Belfour came in and won the Calder and Vezina, and gave the Hawks elite goaltending for the first time since Tony Esposito.
So everything was perfect. They even drew the knuckle-draggers from Minnesota in the first round. Piece of cake, right?
Well, the Hawks decided rather than just play hockey, they'd try beating the North Stars at bareknuckle hockey, including Graham freight-training Minnesota goalie Jon Casey. The North Stars banded together, while the Hawks fell apart. Minnesota was able to pull together and make a run to the Stanley Cup Final, a run the Blackhawks should have made.
Most Disappointing Blackhawk(s): Bobby Orr. Ed Olczyk
When the Blackhawks got Bobby Orr, it was front page news in Chicago. Finally, a superstar defenseman, even though everyone knew his Norris Trophy days were behind him. What we didn't know was just exactly how badly damaged his knees were, or how Bill Wirtz (more on him in a second) and Orr's agent, Alan Eagleson, managed to lock him into a 3-year deal with the Hawks, without Orr's knowledge there was a deal on the table from the Bruins that also included part-ownership. In fact, Orr himself knew he wasn't up to his own standard, so he wound up returning paychecks because he wasn't earning them, in his opinion. At least we were able to make him a Blackhawks Legend in 2013.
Ed Olczyk was supposed to be The One. Native Chicago boy, Olympian, first round pick. A big guy with good hands, he was built up to be the best thing since soft-serve ice cream. And he wasn't bad, by any means. Just not the All-American Boy everyone in Chicago expected. Hell, we even hung "Eddie No-Check" on him. One night, after a game, we rode the Madison St. bus to what used to be the Howard St. line. There was an old-timer sitting across from us, telling us stories about Moose Vasko and Bill Mosienko, and we were enjoying the whole thing. He got off before us, and just before leaving the bus, he turned to us and said in a sing-song voice..."Remember boys...Olczyk suuucks!"
Most Disappointing Moment in Blackhawks History: Game 7, 1971 Stanley Cup Final
Sometimes, you've got something in the bag, then the bag breaks. In 1971, the Hawks were on the verge of making us forget all about the Cubs blowing division leads the last two years, and the Bears being...guh. They battled the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-3 Stanley Cup Final tie, with Game 7 in Chicago Stadium. My dad took me to a movie theater so we could watch it on closed-circuit TV.
The Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and with Tony Esposito in the pipes, it looked like the game was on lockdown. Even Bobby Hull hitting the crossbar instead of making it a 3-0 lead didn't seem like too big a deal. Then Jacques Lamaire flipped a puck from center ice that got past TonyO. Nobody in the theater could believe it, and I heard later how all the air got sucked out of the Stadium. Then Henri Richard got a couple goals, and that was it.
Of course, nobody knew at the time it was going to take another 39 years until the Hawks finally won the damn thing. But I remember being one stunned 8-year-old, wanting a do-over.
Most Disappointing Blackhawks Transaction: Offer sheet to Keith Tkachuk
The 1994-95 version of the Hawks were coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, where'd they fallen to the Red Wings in 5 extremely close games. With almost the entirety of that team returning, the team looked to be a contender on its own and then Blackhawks GM Bob Pulford did the heretofore unthinkable - he threw a large (for the time) front loaded offer sheet at Winnipeg Jets power forward Keith Tkachuk. It was what Hawks fans had wanted to see for years, their team acquiring that final piece to push for a Stanley Cup, and throwing around some big market muscle to do so. Finally, Jeremy Roenick would have a bona fide power forward on his wing (well, since Larmer anyway). This would change everything.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out. The soon to be owners in Phoenix wanted Tkachuk on their shiny new team and gave Winnipeg's management the okay to match the offer sheet. Tkachuk scored 50 goals that season but was in Winnipeg so nobody knew.
The Hawks finished 3rd in Conference and lost a tough 6 game series to the eventual Cup champs Colorado. And our dreams of Jeremy Roenick playing with Keith Tkachuk were dashed...until Chicago traded Roenick to Phoenix the next offseason in exchange for Alexi Zhamnov.
Most Disappointing Blackhawks Coach/Executive: Bill Wirtz
William Wirtz was known as "Dollar Bill". Bill Wirtz managed to turn Chicago - where it was damn near impossible to get Hawks tickets - to a hockey wasteland.
Well, to be fair, just an NHL hockey wasteland.
People still went to hockey games - the minor-league Chicago Wolves were out-drawing the Blackhawks, and walking around Chicago with a Blackhawks hat or shirt made you feel as if you were in some sort of underground cabal.
Wirtz steadfastly refused to show home games on television. Wirtz played Montgomery Burns to Bob Pulford's Smithers and had Pulford run the team in such a tighfisted fashion they went from the Stanley Cup Final to perennial playoff spectators in four years. Wirtz used his connections to get a city ordinance passed so people could no longer sell peanuts outside the Stadium. Wirtz squeezed every cent he could out of the Hawks.
When he died, Dale Tallon had the unlucky task of eulogizing Wirtz on Opening Night of the 2007-08 season. The eulogy was booed.
People walked through the United Center singing "Ding, dong, Wirtz is dead".
Most Disappointing Blackhawks Fashion Choice: Blackhawks St. Patrick's Day sweaters
It's not personal prejudice when I say it's damn near impossible to find a wrong move with uniforms throughout the Blackhawks' history. Even though the original uniforms in 1926 were kind of drab and colorless, it's obvious from newsreels that the entire world was in black and white until after World War II. The barberpole sweaters were boss. They've had their currrent design, in one variation or another, for almost 60 years.
I'll even give the Stadium Series a pass, since I blame Coors for those. Coors sucks, kids.
But there's one absolute eyesore that you see throughout the United Center...those horrendous green "St. Patricks" abominations. How do you screw up the best sweater crest in hockey? Let it float in an ocean of anti-freeze. That's what those beasts look like. There's even bonus Douche Points for people who have nameplates like "O'Toews" or "O'Kane". Holy crap, those things are awful.
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Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Bill Wirtz
- Jeremy Roenick
- Keith Tkachuk