In this edition of the "85 Years" series, Chris Chelios discusses playing against and with "Party Line" winger Steve Larmer.
I was still a young guy in Montreal during the heyday of “The Party Line” of Denis Savard, Al Secord and Steve Larmer, and, to be honest with you, I didn’t get many chances to play against them in person in all of their glory. But in my mind, the Blackhawks of that era were as exciting as Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers and had some truly amazing players on the team. But I think a guy who really gets overlooked in that era is Larms.
"85 YEARS" SERIES
On November 17, 1926, the Chicago Black Hawks took the ice for the first time. 85 years later, the Blackhawks hold an important place in NHL history and Chicago sports.
In celebration of the Blackhawks’ 85th anniversary, Blackhawks Magazine and chicagoblackhawks.com will profile some of the greatest players to ever don the sweater, with essays written by the people who knew them best: teammates, rivals, broadcasters and other members of the NHL community.
Check chicagoblackhawks.com every Wednesday for another entry in the "85 Years" series.
Recent "85 Years" entries:
> Pit Martin, by Dennis Hull
> Charlie Gardiner's career in photos
> Eric Nesterenko, by Ab McDonald
> Keith Magnuson, by Cliff Koroll
If you were “fortunate” enough to be on the ice against The Party Line, you knew you had a handful to deal with. You couldn’t really do anything to Savy or Larms because of Secord – he was always there protecting them. My role at that point was to go against the team’s top players, try to intimidate them, but you couldn’t do that to any of them, especially Larms. You could run him, slash him, hit him, but he just kept coming back at you and never stopped.
He played without fear, and you respect guys like that.
Even as an opponent, you appreciated the way that Larms went about his business. He was always a really humble, modest guy and always tried to shy away from the attention he drew with his outstanding performances. Larms just wanted to play hockey; he never really wanted to deal with the fanfare.
He was really a tough, consistent player at both ends of the ice. He was always a threat in the offensive zone, and you could always count on him to backcheck and play consistent defense. In a word, he was solid.
Larms was as good a teammate as you could ever ask for. He had what you would probably call an “old-school” sensibility about him. He was usually very quiet and minded his own business, but he was always around the team. He never missed a dinner, and he was always with the guys. Everything about him was team-first, with no thought to his own stats or personal fame. The way he went about his business was professional. You were always going to get 110 percent out of him every shift, and that’s all you can ask from your teammates.
When you mention Steve Larmer’s name, the question of the Hall of Fame inevitably comes up. I’m not sure that I know what the measuring stick is for the Hall of Fame, but I think he’s one of the greatest players of his era.
I may be biased because I played with him, but he was absolutely a dominant player. I’m not sure you can go by stats alone anymore; that he played so many games in a row – 884, to be exact – while performing the way that he did should at least put him in the conversation. He was a big part of a lot of Stanley Cup-caliber teams, and he played an important role when the Rangers won in 1994. At the very least, I think he should be strongly considered.
I would call Larms an unsung hero in Blackhawks history. You never saw him over-celebrate his own goals and he never sought out the limelight, maybe even at the expense of his own publicity or popularity outside of Chicago. Blackhawks fans knew that they had something special in Steve Larmer, but I don’t think people in general really knew how good he was.