This is an excerpt from Blackhawks Magazine, the new official game program of the Chicago Blackhawks. Read the full article in the special Steve Larmer Heritage Night Edition, available at the Dec. 3 game. Can't make it to the game and want to purchase an issue? Call HawkQuarters at 1-800-GO-HAWKS!
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Blackhawks through the 1980s and ‘90s coincides perfectly with the progression of gritty winger Steve Larmer. During Larmer’s tenure in Chicago, the Hawks turned into perennial contenders and went to the team’s first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.
If Larmer is one of the unheralded players of his generation – and let’s be clear, he is – that lack of recognition is at least partially by his own design. In 884 games with the Blackhawks, Larmer earned Rookie of the Year honors, went to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final and tallied 406 goals, but his commitment to a team-first mentality is what earns Larmer a unique place in Hawks history.
“Steve was always very quiet and never sought out the spotlight,” says former teammate Michel Goulet (1990-93). “He was never the loudest guy in the locker room, but you always had to respect what he did on the ice.”
A sixth-round pick (120th overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Larmer joined the Hawks on a regular basis in 1982, just as the team was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Norris Division and a 30-38-12 overall record.
As a team the Blackhawks were in transition. Head coach Keith Magnuson had been dismissed the year before, and the Blackhawks were starting anew with bench boss Orval Tessier, who had coached the Hawks’ AHL affiliate in New Brunswick.
Tessier had faith in his minor league players and brought several of them up to the NHL when he was promoted.
“I was very lucky. I was a long-shot to even make it to the NHL,” explains Larmer. “Orval Tessier believed in me, brought me with him from New Brunswick and gave me the opportunity to play with two fabulous players in Al Secord and Denis Savard.”
Larmer joined with tough winger Secord and playmaking center Savard to comprise the “Party Line,” and the trio produced a team-record 297 points in 1982-83 – a record that stands to this day. Larmer tallied 90 points as a rookie that year (43 G, 47 A), second on the team only to Savard’s 121 (35 G, 86 A). The 1982-83 Blackhawks improved their record by 17 wins from the previous season and took first place in the Norris Division.
“We really complemented each other very well as a line,” says Savard. “This game is not played alone - it takes all three guys to become a good line and you need support from your teammates to be a good player. Larms did everything we needed him to do for our line and he did it well.”
For his outstanding season, Larmer was awarded the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, making him just the sixth Blackhawk in franchise history to win the coveted prize at the time.
“It was a great year,” says Larmer. “I was put in a good situation by playing with Denis and Al. Without them I don’t think winning the Calder Trophy would have ever happened.”