It’s easy to say that Tony Amonte was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Blackhawks history is filled with the stories of talented players who brought Chicago winning hockey: Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita captured the 1961 Cup; Steve Larmer and Denis Savard won a President’s Trophy; Tony Esposito made the playoffs every year of his career.
Amonte never advanced past the Conference Finals with Chicago, but to say that his career is Chicago was unsuccessful is to look past all that the talented right winger accomplished in his time. A standout player on the collegiate, professional and international levels, few have done more in their time in an Indian Head sweater than Amonte, and none were more influential during that transitional time in Hawks history.
As you peruse Amonte’s résumé, you begin to realize the enormity of Amonte’s success: 1991 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team; five-time All-Star; Olympic medalist; 7 hat tricks in a Blackhawks uniform; and 11th all-time in points scored by a U.S.-born player. It’s hard for anyone not to be impressed - unless you’re the man himself.
“I never really look back at personal achievements,” says Amonte. “I’d rather look back at what the team did while I was there and whether I helped the team reach its goals.”
The New York Rangers’ 1988 fourth-round draft pick (68th) overall in rose to national prominence during his collegiate career at Boston University, where he led the Terriers to two consecutive Frozen Four appearances. Amonte led the Terriers in points during his freshman season in 1989-90 and scored five goals in three NCAA tournament game to lead Boston to the 1991 NCAA National Championship game.
Almost immediately following the NCAA Championship game, Amonte signed an NHL contract with the Rangers and made his debut during the 1991 NHL playoffs.
“I liked school and I wanted to get my degree,” Amonte explained, “but New York was struggling and it seemed like a good time to go there.”
Though he only appeared in two games for the Rangers, he did tally two assists and two penalty minutes and showed flashes of a promising NHL prospect. Amonte’s profile rose in his rookie year, when he tallied 69 points (35 G, 34 A) for New York and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie. In just under three seasons with New York, he scored a total of 84 goals.
On March 21, 1994, when Amonte and the Rangers were about to take on Calgary, he got a call from his childhood friend Jeremy Roenick. Amonte, along with Matt Oates, was about to join Roenick in Chicago.