This past weekend, the best defenseman in Hawks history went into the hockey Hall of Fame. And nary a word was mentioned around town. Or at least that’s how it felt. Sure, there was a Bears game and the Bulls have started. But we know that’s not the reason. But instead of trying to improve on what my brother The Ombudsman wrote in yesterday’s Indian, I’ll just provide it here.
So one of the best Blackhawks of all time is going into the hall of fame
tomorrow. Did you know that? Did anybody? He’s going in with Scott Nedermeyer,
And Brendan Shanahan (as well as Ray Shero and Geraldine Heaney).
He played the prime eight years of his ridiculous 26-year career with the
Hawks, garnering two Norris trophies and making seven all-star appearances
during that time.
So why isn’t Chris Chelios getting any love from Blackhawk Nation?
This is arguably the greatest Blackhawk defenseman of all time. No, I’m
not overstating that. I didn’t see Pierre Pilote play so I can’t testify to him. But
he was stronger and tougher than Doug Wilson, better in his own end than
Maggie, better than Keith and Seabrook, better than all of them. He singlehandedly
destroyed the Vancouver Canucks (something all Hawks fans enjoy)
bringing the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup appearance in 20 years. He’s
also FROM Chicago. And he plays the type of game—tough, honest, hard
working—that supposedly endears a player to the Chicago
fan the way Butkus, Bobby Hull, and Jerry Sloan played back
in the day. And yet he’s going into the hall with barely a whisper
of congrats from his hometown and one of his clubs.
Now the meatball response to all this is that he eventually
became a Red Wing. He actually wound up playing more
years with the Red Wings than he did with the Hawks, which
is just incredible because when he was traded to the Red
Wings he was 37 and considered on the down side of his
career. But we don’t let the meatballs win around here. We
didn’t let them turn Carcillo into a fixture; we’re not going to let
them win now… right?
But Chelios kind of went through his time not only when the Blackhawks
were at their least relevant, but never really had time to sink in to Chicago
fans as one of the greatest. There were several factors. Among them:
1. Who he was traded for. Chris Chelios was acquired (along with Mike
Pomichter, anyone remember Mike Pomichter… anyone? Beuller? …Mike
Pomichter?) for Denis Savard in a classic “make a statement” Mike Keenan
trade that was supposed to show how his teams were going to be built on
defense. The brain of a Hawks fan knew this was an excellent trade for the
Hawks. But the heart? This was Savior Faire! Savard was a legend. And
unless you won the Cup, you were going to have a hard time replacing the
legend, let alone becoming one yourself.
2. The Hawks didn’t win the Cup. Jaromir Fucking Jagr. Losing Larmer
and banking that goal off of Belfour. Hawks came into that series red-hot
and went deep blue cold right after that first game. Series was over before it
started. Not that people noticed because…
3. The Hawks were deep in the Bulls shadow. This was due to two factors:
One was the demolition of the old Chicago Stadium and the second was the
rise of the Bulls dynasty, bringing millions of fans into the fold. Basketball
knows how to shovel-feed something successful to the masses of the stupid.
“Rock N Roll Part II,” The Romantics’ “What I like About You,” Alan Parsons’
Project’s “Eye in the Sky” are still played during each and every Bulls game.
Don’t evolve, don’t change, just act like it’s 1992. That’s pretty easy for a fan
to do. Thus, there are still a lot more Bulls fans than Hawks fans despite their
recent successes. And back when Chelios played… well, he didn’t have a
4. How he went out. It wasn’t so much that he got traded to the Red
Wings. But it was the last shoe to drop. Roenick got traded for 70 cents on
the dollar with Alex Zhamnov. Eddie Belfour got traded for 30 cents on the
dollar for Ulf Dahlen, Greg Millen, and a bunch of garbage.
And Chelios said he didn’t really want to get traded but things
deteriorated (as everything under Bill Wirtz deteriorated…)
and Chelios wound up leaving the Hawks.
5. Anders Ericsson and Steve McCarthy. Ericsson was
a bust. You knew it the minute you saw him play. McCarthy
you had a little hope for as a puck rushing d-man. Very little.
Another 30 cent on the dollar trade that sent the franchise
into exile where you were lucky to draw two to three thousand
people a game.
There was that pathetic night when McDonough was making
nice with all the ex-Hawks and bringing each one back to
have their own night. And Chelios got booed at his. He took
it in stride and was actually pretty cool about it. But now he’s
going into the hall of fame, and the prime of his career took place right here.
There was nobody better, sorry Duncan Keith fans. DK may have two Cups
and a Norris but he didn’t play with nearly the edge that Chelli did. Maybe if
you combined Seabrook’s toughness and intimidation with Keith’s aggressive
jump and headiness… then we’d be talking Chelios-like quality. He was also
ahead of his time opening a restaurant within spitting distance of the United
Center, wouldn’t you agree Billy Goat Tavern, West End Tavern, Ogden
And yet all I see is one story from Herb Gould. HERB GOULD. He wrote
a neat article and had a cool story where Chelios asked Herb to plant a quote
in the paper to piss off Brian Propp. Read it if you get a chance. Remember
when beat reporters actually talked to the players and didn’t just “wait for
Q”? (So close, almost made it through an article without commenting on how
much the current Blackhawks beat sucks… what can I say? It does, it really,
McDonough’s no fool. He knows having Blackhawk-friendly hall of famers
is a good thing. You want someone who averaged 22 minutes for his 1,651
game career to be synonymous with Blackhawk hockey. It’s just a shame
that there has to be a how and a when and a why for it. It should be NOW,
because Chelli was a Hawk and he’s going into the hall of fame.
I agree with most of this. I did feel there was something resembling a thaw when Cheli went into the US Hockey Hall of Fame a couple years ago and did get a stand ovation with the others. But it’s time for the full healing. Cheli didn’t demand to go to Detroit. They were the only offer and he knew he couldn’t stay here. The Hawks of the early and mid- 90′s? Those were Chelios’s teams. Not only does he deserve one more chance in front of his home crowd, but we need another chance to prove that we can be finally give him the ovation he’s deserved for years — despite the DUIs, of course.
Sidenote: you can read Felzzy at CubsDen.com and @felzzy27 on Twitter.
-The question was raised on Twitter last night about how much Duncan Keith does miss with a shot or have it blocked. Well, me and other went through the numbers because we don’t have kids and have the time to do stupid shit like this. Anyway…
Keith as attempted the 7th-most shots among defensmen in the league with 114. Byfuglien, Subban, Karlsson, Wideman, Green, and Garrison are ahead of him. Of his attempts, he’s had 37% blocked, which is also seventh in the league. Funny enough, Seabrook is actually 3rd in this category. If you combine the percentage of shots that are both blocked and missed the net from total taken, Keith is still seventh at 57%. Seabrook is also third in this category at 64%.
I know some of you will ask, so Brent Seabrook gets 40% of his attempts on net, Duncan Keith 43%, and Nick Leddy 52%. Take it for what you will.