Kyle Morton The Hockey Writers
Chicago Blackhawks’ All-Time Great Roster: Goalies and Head Coach
We’ve now come to the end of my series in which I’ve assembled the best possible roster of Chicago Blackhawks past and present in an effort to put together an incredible dream team of legends. This has been a very fun project, and I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. In this final post, I’ve delved into the annals of Blackhawks history to determine the two net minders and single head coach that I feel are most worthy of representing their respective jobs on the Blackhawks’ all-time roster.
More: Chicago Blackhawks’ All-Time Great Roster: Centers
More: Chicago Blackhawks’ All-Time Great Roster: Left Wings
More: Chicago Blackhawks’ All-Time Great Roster: Right Wings
More: Chicago Blackhawks’ All-Time Great Roster: Defensemen
Narrowing down Chicago’s solid history of goaltending into two worthy candidates was an extremely difficult process for me. With four goalies who have each won two Vezina Trophies with the Blackhawks, it was by far the most difficult decision I made throughout this project. My choices may not be the most popular among current Blackhawks fans, but I feel as though they are the right ones.
Selecting a head coach for this squad, on the other hand, was an easy choice. I’m sure you’re able to guess exactly who I went with, but you’ll have to read all the way to the bottom to know for sure.
So without further ado, here are my selections for the starting goaltender, the backup goaltender, and the bench boss for this fantastic collection of Chicago Blackhawks legends.
#1 Goalie: Ed Belfour
Belfour is the most recent of the four two-time Vezina Trophy winners that the Blackhawks have been fortunate enough to have between the pipes. Because he inherently faced the most competition of any of the four, he gets the tie-breaking nod as the starter here in my mind.
Eddie the Eagle led the entire NHL in shutouts four times throughout his career with the Blackhawks. His career save percentage of .903 does not sound overly impressive now, but it’s great given the era that he played in.
Belfour played in seven full regular seasons with the Blackhawks franchise. In those seven years, he exceeded the annual league average save percentage by an average of 1.04%. For some perspective, Carey Price just posted one of the best single season performances by a goalie in league history, and in doing so he exceeded the league average save percentage by 1.8%. In two of those seven years, Belfour exceeded league average save percentage by more than Price did this past season, which is highly impressive.
Belfour has become somewhat of an underrated goaltender historically as time progresses, but he’s absolutely deserving of having the title of number one goalie for this team, at least in my opinion.
#2 Goalie: Tony Esposito
There were a couple of other candidates who I could have gone with here, but I finally settled on Esposito after a while. Esposito one-upped Belfour by taking home three Vezina Trophies in his time with the Blackhawks, but he did so in an era where shooting percentage was not tracked. Because of this, it muddles the idea of who the best goalie would have been due to the best statistic by which to judge goaltenders being unavailable.
Nevertheless, there’s a very strong case for Esposito to serve as back-up to Belfour on this team. Save percentage may not have been in existence, but I think it’s safe to assume that he didn’t win three Vezina Trophies for no reason. Additionally, Esposito is the Blackhawks’ franchise leader in games played and wins among goalies. That has to count for something.
Leaving out the likes of Glenn Hall, Charlie Gardiner, and Dennis DeJordy from this portion of the roster was an extremely difficult choice. However, it feels right to go with the one about whom we know the most from a statistical perspective as the starter and the one who is the most recognizable name in franchise history at the position as the back-up.
Head Coach: Joel Quenneville
Quenneville is as easy of a choice as it gets to lead this outstanding team from behind the bench. His numbers as coach of the Blackhawks are staggering. You all know about the three Stanley Cup championships, but there’s a lot more than just postseason success that points to just how good Quenneville has been as Chicago’s head coach.
Speaking in terms of regular season only, Quenneville carries a sterling record of 316-155-65. That’s 697 points in 536 regular season games. That means that since Quenneville took over in 2008, the Blackhawks would be expected to put up roughly 107 points over any given 82 game stretch. That’s an absurd level of sustained eliteness.
And that’s only to speak of how good he’s had his team in the regular season. Here is an even crazier number on the postseason performance. Quenneville’s Blackhawks are 73-44 in the postseason. To use the points system, that is 146 points in 117 games. That number is arrived at even when you count postseason overtime losses the same as you would regular season regulation losses, since getting to overtime and losing does nothing for you in the playoffs. Regardless, that number translates to the Blackhawks being slightly above a 102 point pace over a given 82 games in the playoffs. With no loser point. Exclusively against playoff level competition, meaning there’s no bottom feeders messing up that number.
Hopefully this helps paint a better picture of how incredible the success that Quenneville has overseen in Chicago truly is. The players he’s had on the team have been great and helped those numbers out quite a bit, but the fact remains that Quenneville is a magnificent tactician who also knows very well how to get the most out of each and every one of his players.
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So there we have it, that finally fills out the entirety of Chicago’s all-time great roster. Now that it’s done, here’s a final look at what the team looks like:
Bobby Hull – Stan Mikita – Steve Larmer
Doug Bentley – Denis Savard – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Jeremy Roenick – Marian Hossa
Al Secord – Jonathan Toews – Tony Amonte
Duncan Keith – Chris Chelios
Pierre Pilote – Brent Seabrook
Doug Wilson – Robert Murray
Head Coach: Joel Quenneville
I’d be very interested to see if there’s a franchise out there that could top that. Chicago’s dominance in the modern era gives them a huge edge over many franchises who don’t have such a plethora of future legends to choose from. The fact that the Blackhawks have essentially been in the NHL as long as anybody also gives them an edge over any of the more recently founded franchises.
Let me know in the comments what you think of each of my roster selections. Let me know where you agree with me, as well as where you disagree with me. Thanks for reading.
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