Belfour honored in Chicago

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 8:03 PM
Brian Hedger  - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The "Eagle" was back on Madison Street wearing his old No.30 Chicago Blackhawks sweater and a couple chants of "Edd-ie! Edd-ie!" made their way around the United Center.

Eddie Belfour played parts of eight seasons among his 20-year NHL career in the Windy City, but the Hall of Famer started his career here and stayed long enough to be considered a Chicago Blackhawks legend.

Those chants of "Edd-ie! Edd-ie!" used to fill the old Chicago Stadium whenever he was at his best and to some Hawks fans, they're still fresh in the memory banks. They're special memories for Belfour, too, and so was the Blackhawks Heritage Night held in his honor on Sunday night at the United Center.

Prior to a big game against the Nashville Predators, the Hawks honored Belfour's time spent in Chicago and had him drop the ceremonial first puck between Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.

"I didn't really think about (a Hawks Heritage Night), but I was real lucky to be part of the night when Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull ... their jerseys were raised," Belfour said. "I was on the bench and I just remember thinking how much fun it was being a part of that and how emotional that was and I always wanted to have a night like that. So, I'm really happy about tonight."

Belfour racked up 201 career wins with the Hawks, third in franchise history, and posted 30 shutouts -- which is still fourth in the organization's historical listings. He also holds the team's record in single-season wins with 43, which he reached while winning the Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy and Jennings Trophy in 1990-91 -- his first full NHL season.

"It means a lot to come back to Chicago and this beautiful building and it means a lot to be honored by the Blackhawks organization," Belfour said. "I was real fortunate to start my career here and play in the best stadium in the League. All the national anthems and all the chills you got from all the fans and all the cheering ... it was just a great time."

Belfour -- who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 19, 2011 --added a second Vezina as a Blackhawk to join the great Tony Esposito as the team's only goalies to win the prestigious award twice. "The Eagle" also finished the Chicago segment of his career with three Jennings Trophies. In all, Befour played for four other teams and finished with a 484-320-125 record in 963 games played.

He also played for famed former Blackhawks coach Mike Keenan and backstopped the Hawks all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 1992 with a 12-4 record in that postseason, including one shutout. Not winning the Cup in Chicago, however, remains one of his bigger career disappointments.

After helping the Hawks make seven Stanley Cup playoff appearances, Belfour was traded to the San Jose Sharks in 1997 mainly because of a contract squabble and never got the opportunity to chase down the Cup in a Hawks uniform again.

"My dream was to win a Stanley Cup here in Chicago," Belfour said. "I said that in my first press conference. We all wanted to do that. Unfortunately, the way the League went, players started moving a lot more and I didn't agree with it. I wish more players would stay on the same team longer. I think it's better for the game, better for the fans and better for the players in the long run."

Belfour needed look no further than Esposito, who was in attendance on Sunday night.

"Tony Esposito played his whole career here in Chicago," Belfour said. "I wish I could've done that, but it didn't happen."

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