The NHL season has now come to an end and what a season it was, starting off with a frustrating lockout for franchises and fans - but right from the get-go it was clear that one team was set to dominate the season, and the Chicago Blackhawks managed to do just that.
After the lockout had ended no team wanted to be complacent in the shortened season, with less fixtures to play every single game was crucial in this season and Chicago capitalised on this situation better than anyone.
They set records right from the start, surging to a franchise record of 6-0-0 with a victory over the Detroit Red Wings, followed by many other records which include earning points in the first sixteen consecutive games, which moved on to seventeen shortly after; and went on to a total of 24 games whilst scoring a point, an incredible feat, and you cannot forget Ray Emery setting an NHL record of 10-0-0 with most consecutive wins to start a season.
But the most important record is the one which took place earlier in the week, the Chicago Blackhawks were tied with the New York Rangers who both had four Stanley Cups to their name, and now Chicago Blackhawks have moved above them with their latest victory over the Boston Bruins in a fantastic series.
With five Stanley Cups now in their trophy case, which of the victories is the best? Which Stanley Cup victory will stay in the fans minds forever and potentially go down as the greatest achievement in franchise history?
1934 vs Detroit Red Wings
This is the first ever Stanley Cup the Chicago Blackhawks captured; after being founded in 1926 it took the franchise less than a decade to capture the coveted trophy. It was the dominant Detroit Redwings which finished at the top of the American Division.
The Blackhawks were a side which had the lowest goals allowed throughout the season.
The Vezina Trophy winner Charlie Gardiner was to be thanked for this feat; but sadly he was not able to lift the cup as he passed away, with Game four in the Finals being his last ever appearance at the age of 29.
This year the Vezina Trophy has been awarded to the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. In the quarter-finals of the 1934 Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks managed to defeat a great Montreal Canadiens side as they edged them out 4-3 and then went on to defeat another Montreal side in the Maroons, getting past the semi-finals stage with a 6-2 victory to set up a final against the Detroit Red Wings.
This was the first appearance in the finals for the Red Wings whilst it was the second trip for the Blackhawks after coming up short to the Montreal Canadiens in 1931, but this time the Blackhawks were not to be denied as they won the opening two games in Detroit before losing 5-2 in Chicago.
Game four saw the match go into double overtime where a goal from Harold March was enough to deliver the Blackhawks their first ever Stanley Cup win.
1938 vs Toronto Maple Leafs
With an 11-25 record in their season, the Chicago Blackhawks almost missed the playoffs; so it would be foolish to think they would be able to pull one out of the bag to go on and capture their second Stanley Cup; well they managed to do just that.
Ever since their 1934 Stanley Cup victory, the Blackhawks had never won a playoff series ever since so who was to think that after a below-par season things would change. But Chicago managed to create a remarkable Cinderella story after they began their road to the finals by disposing of the Montreal Canadiens in Game three which required overtime before stumbling at the first hurdle against the New York Americans, however they fought back and surged past them to take game two and three and managed to earn themselves another trip to the finals where the Maple Leafs were waiting for the inconsistent Blackhawks side.
Chicago took Game one which finished 3-1 at the Chicago Stadium before losing Game two to a scoreline of 5-1 to the top seeded Canadian side. Chicago Blackhawks coach Bill Stewart managed to become the first ever American-born coach to win the Stanley Cup after his team beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 and 4-1 in Games 3 and 4 to hand Chicago a their second Stanley Cup, a great victory to finish off the Cinderella story after they were so close to not even making the playoffs.
1961 vs Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Blackhawks had to wait over twenty years to get their hands on another Stanley Cup, and once again met familiar opponents in the form of the Detroit Red Wings. In the regular season, the Blackhawks clinched the third seed which set up a tie against the Montreal Canadiens.
In 1959 and 1960; the Canadiens got the better of the Blackhawks as they disposed of them twice in consecutive seasons, meaning the Blackhawks suffered two first-round exits and now many believed that the Canadiens would do the exact same for the third year running; however things would be different this time.
After a brilliant defensive plan which saw the Montreal players grow increasingly tired, the Blackhawks ended all doubters by beating the Canadiens in six games, as the Canadiens were unable to score in games five and six. Again, the Detroit Red Wings were waiting in the final after they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this became the only Stanley Cup final in the 1960’s which would not include the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Detroit had the likes of Gordie How and Terry Sawchuck which meant that most fans believed the Red Wings would defeat the Blackhawks this time round and they had every right to believe that with the series tied at 2-2.
However the Blackhawks picked up their third Stanley Cup after winning Game 5 6-3 and winning Game six to a scoreline of 5-1, after a long wait this victory was sweet for the Chicago franchise and the fans.
2010 vs Philadelphia Flyers
If the previous wait was long, then this was just something else as the Blackhawks had to wait 49 years for the Stanley Cup to return to the City, beating my Philadelphia Flyers en route to their fourth Stanley Cup victory. In 2009 the Blackhawks lost out to the Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals but they didn’t sit still, they bounced back in terrific fashion as they were crowned the Central Division champions and set up a first-round tie against the Nashville Predators.
They fought past the Predators before eliminating the Vancouver Canucks and somehow sweeping the top-seeded San Jose Sharks to set up a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were seeded seventh and had the opportunity to bring Philadelphia another championship, before this the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series to being the City a championship after a 25 year wait, but the Flyers were unable to continue that success.
Having not won the Stanley Cup since 1975 the Blackhawks made sure the wait had to continue as they took the first game 7-4 in the United Centre. At the same venue the victors were also the same as the Blackhawks edged past the Flyers after a 2-1 win but the Flyers bounced back after taking advantage of playing at home in the Wachovia Center, taking games three and four to scorelines of 4-3 in overtime and 5-3.
Chicago then captured the Stanley Cup after beating the Flyers in Game five and also in Game six which required overtime, which saw Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews join the Triple-Gold club and it was great for the city of Chicago too as the win meant Chicago had at least one championship in each of the four major sports since 1985; no, not the Cubs.
2013 vs Boston Bruins
The latest season which started late because of another lockout but that didn’t bother the winners as they stormed to a record of 21-0-3 to kick off their season. With a fantastic season under their belt nothing was in their way of clinching the number one seed in the division and they managed to do that which saw Chicago meet the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs.
The series turned in Chicago’s way after picking up a 4-1 victory before stumbling slightly to the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. They were on the brink of elimination after the Red Wings stormed to a 3-1 lead in the series but the Blackhawk’s resiliency was not to be denied before storming back to take it to Game seven where a goal courtesy of Brent Seabrook was enough to send the Blackhawks through where they would face the previous year’s champions, the L.A. Kings. All the games in the series were closely contested but it took the Blackhawks five games to dispose of the Kings after an overtime goal through the impressive Patrick Kane. This meant that the Blackhawks would be playing the Boston Bruins for the first time in the finals, and was also the first original six match-up since 1979.
I was unable to watch every single game live but thanks to the constant tweeting of die-hard Blackhawk’s fan and WWE superstar CM Punk; I was able to keep in touch with the series, a triple overtime thriller in Game one which finished 4-3 followed by two additional games which needed overtime this series was a fantastic one. Bryan Bickell scored with only 76 seconds remaining on the clock to tie the game, and 17 seconds after that Dave Bolland added another which gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead, one they would not surrender as they captured their fifth Stanley Cup victory.
Obviously winning the cup is special every time it happens, the first is always special and the latest victory is just as great, my personal pick would have to be the 1938 victory over the strong Toronto Maple Leafs side, after just edging through to the playoffs many would not have expected to see the Blackhawks in the finals, let alone win it. The series against the Flyer’s was also entertaining but if my loyalties were not with the Flyer’s I would have said this also came close to being one of the great Stanley Cup victories for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Out of the five victories, which do you think remains the best for Chicago? Have your say below:
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