Forever A Blackhawk!


I know that this blog is primarily to be about the Florida Panthers, even though every once in awhile I go off on a tangent on the NHL in general.  However I cannot pass up a chance to pay tribute to my favorite NHL player of all time, Jeremy Roenick.  In case you didn’t know I grew up in Chicago and lived there for 31 years until I moved to Florida in 1993, but I never lost my love for the Hawks.  I was a season ticket holder with my brother for 11 seasons and we saw some awesome hockey!   We once ended up on the cover of the Yearbook with the sign “Edmonton has Gretzky But Chicago has Fans” underneath us. We attended the 1991 All-Star game at Chicago Stadium and had our ears blown out by the loudest and most fascinating National Anthem you ever heard (check it out).  So I thought that since the Panthers are playing the Blackhawks to open the 2009-2010 NHL season, I would take this oppourtunity to remember my favorite Blackhawk.

As the season is about to open I have to say that I am torn.  This will be the first time in the last 20 years that JR will not be playing.  Since his retirement announcement, Blackhawk fans all over have been reminscing about his career and have many great memories of his Blackhawk years.  From the first shift he took, I knew he would be something special.  He played the game the way it should be played, fearlessly and with passion.  He played with speed, grace, grit and snarl.  While his reckless abandon eventually caught up to him and cost him some play time late in his career, there is no doubt that he did it all on his terms.   I swear some nights you would have thought that Roenick, Steve Larmer and Michel Goulet were in each other’s heads.  They just knew where the other was going to be.  It was awesome!

 He never, ever should have been traded for that russian what’s his name (Zhamnov).  But back in the day when$$$$ Bill Wirtz could never be upstaged, Wirtz did what he always did, either let you go (Bobby Hull), or traded you.  For the longest time after the Roenick trade the Hawks were never the same.  It led to others being dealt or allowed to leave as well.  Blackhawk  fans everywhere were disgusted and had no idea of the doom that was to come.  Thankfully, however those days seem to be over.

As a young Blackhawk there are a couple incidents involving Roenick that I’ll never forget.  After missing a check during an exhibition game, he was grabbed around the neck of his sweater by then coach Mike Keenan.  Keenan told Roenick, “If you ever miss another check like that again, I’ll make sure you don’t play in the NHL while I’m here“.   The other incident was a playoff game against the St. Louis Blues.  Roenick took a stick to the face and when no penalty was called he skated over to the ref after the play had stopped and took two teeth out of his mouth to show the ref and ask, “Why was there no call“?  He then promptly went on to score the game winning goal in overtime! 

So while I ponder who my next favorite is going to be, enjoy the following tribute to JR.  This clip known as Jeremy Roenick The Blackhawk Years will give you a sense of just how special he was.  At least to those of us in Chicago.  The goal that he scores at toward the end of this clip against the Leafs in the ’94 playoffs still gives me goosebumps.

Thanks JR for all the memories, the highlights, the comments and the passion that you brought to the game.  I wish that I could be at the United Center on November 15th for Jeremy Roenick Heritage Night, but I’ll make sure to watch it on “The Dish”.

Thanks for reading.