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Blackhawks Magazine Excerpt: Thinking Big

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

The following is excerpted from the January 2018 issue of Blackhawks Magazine, which focuses on Alex DeBrincat's transition to the NHL. Pick up a copy at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.

In late November, you registered a hat trick-or 'Cat Trick'-and were the second-youngest Blackhawk ever to do so, just four days older than Jeremy Roenick.
That was one of those nights where the puck was just kind of ending up on my stick. Schmaltzy (Nick Schmaltz) made a great pass to me on the first one. We had a good cycle going on the second, and I had a wide-open net after Hartzy (Ryan Hartman) made a play. Third one, Kaner passed to me on a 2-on-1. You knew he would. Got to credit the guys I was playing with. One of those nights. I didn't think it would happen so quickly.

You appear to be confident, but not cocky. Are you at all surprised that you've made it to the NHL?
You never have it made. You can't get too comfortable. I went into training camp with the mindset that anything could happen. My goal obviously was to make the Blackhawks, but I was ready to go to their minor-league team in Rockford if I needed to. Honestly, I was kind of planning in the back of my mind to be in Rockford this year. But I showed up at camp ready to give it my best effort and work hard every day. I didn't want to get my hopes too high, because there are guys who could be up here instead of me.

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Verdict: Offensively-minded Oesterle's time has come

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

Jordan Oesterle, an outsider early this season, now was simply outnumbered. Three Winnipeg Jets stormed into Blackhawks territory last Friday night at the United Center, intent on tying a tight game.

Oesterle, the lone defender between them and goalie Jeff Glass, retreated carefully, staking out the middle as Kyle Connor cradled the puck on the right.

"He's a left shot, on his offside, so I tried to bait him into passing it across (to Dustin Byfuglien)," recalled Oesterle. "I wasn't too concerned about the trailing guy (Josh Morrissey). I just tried to stay patient. If I commit too soon to Connor, he'll just pass it. As we got down low, with less space available, I slid toward him with my stick extended in front of me, basically covering maybe a 12-foot area, including my body."

Deftly, Oesterle whisked the puck out of danger, stifling the rush. Moments later, Jan Rutta scored what would be the winning goal in a 2-1 victory.

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Verdict: Glass proving to be worthy 11th hour goalie

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

The Blackhawks didn't exactly have to crack glass in an emergency, and Jeff Glass doesn't quite fit the Eric Semborski mold. But Glass has been a worthy 11th hour goalie during the team's extended holiday excursion from coast to coast through the United States and Canada.

"A great professional and a great point," intoned Head Coach Joel Quenneville Sunday night after the Blackhawks stormed from a three-goal deficit before losing to the Calgary Flames, 4-3, in overtime at the Saddledome.

Glass, a 32-year-old rookie summoned from the Rockford IceHogs after Corey Crawford went on injured reserve, grew up in Calgary and attended many a game there. But not lost on his family, friends and new lodge brothers was a save he authored on Johnny Gaudreau's breakaway shortly before Brandon Saad's goal forged a 3-3 tie at 18:14 of the third period.

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Verdict: Blackhawks spending New Year's Day outdoors again at Notre Dame

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

Come back with us to New Year's Day 2008, when the Blackhawks were just starting to feel like a breath of fresh air.

Rocky Wirtz was new in his role as Chairman of a troubled family heirloom, requiring a complete teardown he commissioned John McDonough to produce and direct. At home on that holiday, less than two months into his role as franchise President, McDonough watched the first Winter Classic featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Bills.

McDonough, after a decorated career with the Chicago Cubs, was new to hockey, but not new to new. As snowflakes danced across his TV screen and Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout to provide the visitors a 2-1 victory before 71,217 fans, McDonough was enthralled. Why, he wondered, don't we get one of those?

McDonough broached the concept to National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, who noted that the idea did not float unattended. McDonough, quipped Bettman, was politely persistent. Phone calls brought traction, then action. On New Year's Day 2009, the Blackhawks hosted the defending Stanley Cup champions and Marian Hossa at Wrigley Field. The Detroit Red Wings won 6-4, with 40,818 in attendance on a crisp afternoon.

"We lost," recalled captain Jonathan Toews, "but it was the rebirth of the Blackhawks."

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The Verdict: Secord Provided Scoring, Peace of Mind

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

This article was originally posted on April 7, 2010. Secord will take the ice for One More Shift on Nov. 12 before the Blackhawks host the New Jersey Devils.


Al Secord rarely went looking for trouble, but when trouble beckoned, he was ready and able to oblige. He was tougher than a $2 steak, and more often than not, Secord's mood had nothing whatsoever to do with self-preservation.

"With Al around, I always had peace of mind when I stepped on the ice," recalls Secord's erstwhile center man, Hall of Famer Denis Savard. "He was always there to protect me, to protect any of us. I had to tone him down every once in a while. Somebody might get rough with me, and he said, 'Well, Savy, I'll see you in five minutes.' He was gonna go fight the guy."

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Blackhawks Magazine Excerpt: Celebrating 19 and 88

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

The following is excerpted from the October 2017 issue of Blackhawks Magazine, which celebrates 10 years of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Pick up a copy at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.

If you think bobblehead giveaways attract attention, watch the ice when Patrick Kane is present on the right wing. Opponents gather around whether he has the puck or not. He can thread a pass through a keyhole with those magical hands, and can score from anywhere -- even while horizontal, as he did against the Montreal Canadiens last November. Bobby Hull cites Kane as among the best ever at handling the puck while speed-skating.

Jonathan Toews, a center, has performed with numerous linemates, as has Kane. No. 19 is strong of body and mind, always conscious of the risk-reward element endemic to his pedigree, which is based on monitoring the entire rink. Whether that has affected his offensive possibilities is an issue he will not duck. As a baseball manager says on a trip to the mound to counsel a pitcher who wants to strike out every batter, there's a reason you have eight teammates wearing gloves.

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Verdict: Bickell tribute, 10 goals mark near-perfect opening night

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

The Blackhawks promised to enter this season in a state of ill humor, but 10-1? Against hockey royalty? The twice-running Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins?

Thursday night could only have been more perfect for the Blackhawks if this were their last game in June rather than their first game in October. They scored four goals inside three minutes of the first period, or more goals than they scored inside the United Center and Bridgestone Arena during April's playoff capitulation against the Nashville Predators. Good thing the Blackhawks were 0-for-6 on the power play, or this really would have gotten out of hand.

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Verdict: Pilote, an outlier in his era, was the heart of the Blackhawks

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

Pierre Pilote, a Hall of Fame defenseman who won a Stanley Cup and three consecutive Norris Trophies with the Blackhawks, has died. He was 85.

Pilote was a latecomer who evolved into a perennial all-star. Born in Kenogami, Quebec, he moved with his family to Fort Erie, Ontario, where the only rink in town was destroyed in a storm. So, at age 14, he drifted to baseball. He did not play organized hockey until he was 17, and then as a center. With a crowd at that position, his coach switched Pilote to the blue line.

"I had to learn how to play there," he recalled, "but I was still inclined to think offensively."

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Verdict: Sharp, Saad happy to be home in Chicago

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

Needing no introduction, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad received one anyway at the Blackhawks' 10th Annual Convention. During the Opening Ceremonies, both were accorded a rousing welcome. A day later, the International Ballroom at the Hilton Chicago was standing room only for a panel discussion ­- "more people than used to be at some of our games when I first got here," noted Sharp. During a break in the action, Sharp and Saad talked with chicagoblackhawks.com.

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Verdict: Blackhawks make big changes in latest salary cap test

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

One cannot live by Bread Man alone, and Artemi Panarin surely will be missed.

But with the most rigid salary cap in professional sports, change is imperative throughout the National Hockey League. Thus the Blackhawks, who have been there and done that, will look quite different when the 2017-18 schedule commences this October.

After a couple of significant trades followed by a spate of free agent signings, the Blackhawks intend to be younger, bigger, faster, deeper and, with the return of popular Patrick Sharp, even handsomer. Will they be as good or better than the team that won the Western Conference last season with 109 points, the second-highest total in franchise history?

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