This is the fourth in a four-part series as Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers explores what it means to wear the 'C' in the NHL. Take a look behind the scenes with unique perspective from players, coaches, historians and much more.
Historian Bob Verdi sifted through his memories of the Chicago Blackhawks’ greatest captains, those who already left their mark on the franchise and those who are still in the process of doing it.
“It’s still early for this one, but you have to like his chances,” Verdi said of current captain Jonathan Toews. “He’s probably got half his statue built already.”
Indeed, Mr. Toews is certainly carving his niche in the among the Blackhawks’ captains of lore. The team has had some great captains in their history: players who put the team first, themselves second. So as part of our captaincy series, we sat down with the former Chicago Tribune sportswriter/current Blackhawks historian and got his take on some of the best (in no particular order).
Jonathan Toews (2008-present)
“Jonathan’s the most talented of the bunch that I can remember,” Verdi said. “(Coach Joel Quenneville) says he’s the perfect middleman between (the team) and the coach’s office, and I can see that. For a young guy to do what he’s done is extraordinary. I can’t think of anyone who’s been more successful in that role and he’s still a kid.”
Keith Magnuson (1976-80)
“Maggie gave them a jolt of spirit. He never spent a day in the minor leagues. He was modestly talented but energized the locker room. He was a leader of the veterans and, after a few years, he lit up that locker room. He was a terrific captain and the spiritual leader and all that. He could get the guys to do just about anything for the community; he was very civic-minded."
Darryl Sutter (1982-87)
“He was one who didn’t have to say much. Again, he was not endowed with the most talent. He had to kick and scrape to make it in the NHL, which he did quite well. He was not very tolerant of players who didn’t work as hard as he did, and he’s probably that same way now as a coach. Behind the bench, it looks like he’s just had a bad meal. He never had to say too much. Guys didn’t want to (tick) him off."
Dirk Graham (1988-95)
“He had to sweat it out to be successful. He was a grinder and very thoughtful. He looked after the rookies. If they were out for a night and had a game the next day, he would keep an eye out for what the rookies were doing and how they were handling themselves. Certain guys just get it as far as leadership.”
Chris Chelios (1995-99)
“Cheli was one of those guys; everyone hated him except the guys wearing the same uniform. He was an emotional leader. It was a jolt when (Denis Savard) was traded, because he was very popular in and out of the locker room. (Chelios) was an ornery guy, very talented.”