New Fan’s Guide to the Chicago Blackhawks

There’s a lot of excitement building around the Chicago Blackhawks, bringing in new fans along with it. If you’re one of them, and you want to get a jumpstart on your Blackhawks fandom, we’ve assembled a new fan’s guide to the Chicago Blackhawks that will give you all the basics you need to know.

A Brief History of the Chicago Blackhawks

Guide to the Chicago Blackhawks
Image by Sarah A is licensed with Creative Commons

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the original NHL teams, known as The Original Six. They date all the way back to 1926, meaning their 100-year anniversary is approaching soon. With so much history, it’s hard to distill it all down, but here are some key facts to know:

  • The Blackhawks played their first game on November 17, 1926 against the Toronto St. Patricks, winning 4-1 in front of a crowd of 7,000+ at the Chicago Coliseum
  • They won their first Stanley Cup in 1934, followed by the second in 1938
  • Two prominent owner are the father and son combination of Arthur and Bill Wirtz, who collectively ran the team from 1966 to 2007
  • The Blackhawks made the playoffs for 29 straight years until they miss the cutoff by five points in 1998
  • The Hawks would then consistently miss the playoffs until 2008
  • In 2004, ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in professional sports, thanks in part to policies implemented by Bill Wirtz, such as not allowing the games to be televised locally

Key Games to Know

As a new fan, you don’t know all the major games in Blackhawks history (yet). But if you want to connect with a diehard fan, you can ask them about any of the Hawks games below to get the conversation started:

1960-1961 Cup Winner

At the end of the 1960-1961 season, the Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup in franchise history. They did so in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, beating the Detroit Red Wings 5 to 1. This team featured some of the all-time Chicago greats, including Bobby Hull, Bill Hay and Glenn Hall. It’s a notable game in franchise history not only because it was a cup-winner but because it would be another 49 years until the Hawks won another championship.

Bobby Hull’s 600th Goal

One of the greatest Blackhawk players of all time cemented himself in team history with his 600th career goal. On March 25, 1972, Bobby Hull scored with 2 minutes and 26 seconds remaining in the game to tie the score against the Boston Bruins. 600 goals in a career is no easy feat, with only 18 other players in NHL history reaching that mark.

1990-1991 Loss to the North Stars

Though it took the Blackhawks 49 years to win another Cup, there were some promising years mixed in. Perhaps the best Blackhawks team during that time was the 1990-1991 team, which was packed with star power. Some notable names from that season include Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, Doug Wilson, Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour. The team finished first in the standings at the end of the regular season, giving fans a sense of hope for the playoffs. This made the eventual loss to the North Stars in the conference semifinals even harder to swallow, with fans still wondering what might have been for this stacked team.

2009-2010 Game 5 vs. Predators

The Blackhawks would ultimately end their Stanley Cup drought in the 2009-2010 season but the road to get there wasn’t easy. In the opening round of the playoffs that year, the Hawks faced the Nashville Predators. After four games, each team had won twice. Then, in Game 5, the Predators had a lead of 4 to 3, the man advantage, and under a minute to go.

The winner of Game 5 typically wins the series, making it look like the Blackhawks would continue their Stanley Cup drought. But with 14 seconds left, Patrick Kane scored the game-tying goal, in what would become the first in a long list of playoff heroics for Kane. Then, in overtime, seconds after killing off the penalty, Marian Hossa scored the game winner.

2009-2010 Game 6 vs. Flyers

Finally, the game that ended the 49-year Stanley Cup drought. In that same playoff run, the Hawks made it the Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. In Game 6, on the road in Philadelphia, Kane once again came up big, scoring the overtime winner. This game is remembered by many not only because it ended the championship drought but because of the way it ended.

Kane fired a seemingly harmless shot on net, then the puck disappeared. The crowd went silent and most of the players on the ice weren’t sure what happened, except for Kane. He began celebrating immediately, knowing that his shot went in. The realization starts to come to everyone else – the series was over. The moment generations of Hawks fans had been waiting for had arrived, albeit in a somewhat unusual way.

Best Players in Chicago Blackhawks History

Many well-known players have called Chicago home over the years. However, a few of them stand out above the rest in terms of their impact on the Hawks:

  • Stan Mikita: The Blackhawks all-time leader in scoring with over 1,400 points, Mikita played his entire career with the Hawks from 1958-1980. “Stosh”, as he was known, captained the Hawks for many seasons, led the NHL in scoring four times, and now resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Bobby Hull: One of the best goal-scorers of all time, Hull played for the Hawks from 1957 to 1972. He amassed more than 600 goals in his career and led the NHL in scoring seven times.
  • Glen Hall: Another Hall of Famer, Glen Hall was between the pipes the last time the Hawks won a Cup. Over his career with Chicago, he had 275 wins and 51 shutouts.
  • Tony Esposito: Esposito took over the net following Hall’s departure. A pioneer of the butterfly-style goaltending, Esposito would play in Chicago for 15 seasons before entering the Hall of Fame.

Honorable mentions: Jeremy Roenick, Denis Savard, Pierre Pilote, Steve Larmer, Chris Chelios, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith

The 2022-2023 Chicago Blackhawks Recap

To put it mildly, the 2022-2023 season wasn’t a good one for the Blackhawks. They tied for the second-worst record in the league with Columbus and were only one point better than the Anaheim Ducks. Out of their 82-game season, the Hawks won only 26 of them.

The season started off well enough, but quickly fell apart. After a decent start in October, the Hawks then lost 21 of their next 23 games. By the end of the year, the Blackhawks had managed only eight wins. Things didn’t substantially improve through the rest of the season, which led to management getting rid of some big names. By the trade deadline, the Hawks had shipped out players like Dylan Wells, Jake McCabe and Max Domi. The biggest move was trading Patrick Kane, winner of three championships with Chicago, to the New York Rangers.

The loss of these key players led to even more losses and one of the worst closing records the club has ever seen. However, losing all these games helped the Blackhawks secure better odds in the upcoming entry level draft, which they put to good use.

What to Expect from the 2023-2024 Blackhawks

The 2023-2024 Blackhawks may not be a very good team, but they should at least be an exciting one. The reason for this? Drafting Connor Bedard first overall in last year’s NHL entry draft. Bedard absolutely lit up the Junior league and is projected to be the next great superstar in the NHL. He’s the kind of player that can turn the fortunes of a franchise around single-handedly. He might not be that superstar in his first season, but he should at least provide some excitement and highlights for Blackhawks fans.

Besides Bedard, Chicago made a few other additions this offseason which should help them be more competitive. For starters, they added Taylor Hall, a skilled first-line winger to play alongside Bedard. They also traded for Nic Foligno, who can provide some veteran leadership and defensive play. This is especially important after the loss of two key franchise players in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Last year, the Blackhawks finished with just 59 points, second to last in the Western Conference. With the key upgrades at forward, the Blackhawks likely surpass this number in 2023-2024, but probably haven’t improved enough to grab a playoff spot yet.

Attending a Chicago Blackhawks Game

The Blackhawks currently play their home games at the United Center in Chicago. There are busses that run frequently on game days if you want to take mass transit or there is a limited amount of parking available if you’re driving. You can also find some great places to eat or grab a drink not far from the arena. For more tips, check out our guide on attending your first Chicago Blackhawks game.