Steve Larmer took the pregame spin, part of the Blackhawks’ “One More Shift” series on Friday night. High above him at the United Center hang several retired Blackhawks numbers.
As of now, Larmer’s No. 28 isn’t among them, but he’s OK with that.
“I think that really is reserved for very special people,” Larmer said.
OK, but isn’t he one of those in the Blackhawks’ history?
“Thank you, but I think that Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito and Denis Savard and Keith Magnuson and Pierre Pilote are kind of in a league of their own,” he said.
Many would say the same about Larmer, who ranks fourth in Blackhawks history with 923 points, third in goals (406) and fifth in assists (517). Over his entire NHL career Larmer played in 1,006 regular-season games, recording 1,012 points. But whether or not his number is retired by the Blackhawks, coming back for events, including Friday’s, is a treat.
“It’s nerve-wracking and it’s going to be fun,” Larmer said prior to his spin on the ice. “It’s really quite an honor and a surprise to me to be able to do this and I just, it’s a great organization and they’ve always been great to me. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Larmer put together a stellar career. Many believe it deserves a retired number here – and maybe more. Blackhawks play-by-play man Pat Foley, when accepting the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in November of 2014, spoke immediately on how Larmer should be in the hall, too.
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“I’ve been fortunate enough to call Blackhawks hockey for over a third of the games they’ve ever played and I’ve never seen a better two-way player come through here,” Foley said that day about Larmer. “When Steve Larmer left Chicago and went to New York, it’s no coincidence that shortly thereafter, they won the Stanley Cup.”
Larmer laughed when reminded of Foley’s speech.
“Well, Pat’s a good friend,” Larmer said with a smile. “He’s always been a good friend. For the last 35 years, since the early 1980s when he was doing radio and TV back then and we all traveled together and hung out together and it was one good group. It’s fun. I mean, Pat’s always been a big supporter and a really good friend.”
Larmer would’ve loved to have hoisted the Stanley Cup during his time with the Blackhawks. Coming as close as they did in 1992 stayed with him for a bit – and it hurt.
“That stung deeply. Because you’re starting to get older and you’re thinking, ‘oh my God, that was it, that was the chance and it’s freaking gone,’ right? It’s never going to happen again,” Larmer recalled. “I’m not one of those guys who happened along and all of a sudden you’re on a team and you win like the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. We lost out to the team that always won, right? It was disappointing that way. But when you get to that point and you have that run, then we lost to Pittsburgh, that stuck with me for a year in a half. I couldn’t let it go. It was always in the back of my mind. You’re out there playing and you’re sitting on the bench and still thinking about that.”
So when Larmer got another chance with the New York Rangers – he was dealt there in a three-way deal involving the Rangers, Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers – it meant everything.
“The neat thing about going to New York is it gave me another chance to play with some great players and have that opportunity to win and finally get over that hump,” he said. “It was a neat city to win in and to be able to play with guys like Mark Messier and Leach and all those players was a lot of fun.”
Larmer put up fantastic numbers in his career. He got to hoist a Cup near the end of his career. His number should be in the rafters to commemorate that great career.