On Monday, the Blackhawks made a deadline day deal and sent fourth line forward and penalty kill specialist Ben Smith to the San Jose Sharks for Andrew Desjardins. Desjardins is expected to provide the Blackhawks with some "edge" down the stretch, and there were financial implications to the deal as well.
Smith was a nice player for the Hawks. He played college hockey at Boston College, and earned the Most Outstanding Player award at the Frozen Four during his senior year, and brought all of the intangibles you would want in a role player with him to Chicago. But the Hawks needed cap space, and adding Antoine Vermette gave GM Stan Bowman the flexibility to move Smith's $1.5M off the books for next season.
With Smith moving on, the number 28 is no longer on an active player's sweater at the United Center.
And it never should be again.
I've been on this bandwagon for years, starting an online petition in 2011 and regularly writing about Larmer's place not only in the history of the Blackhawks, but his Hall of Fame credentials as well.
It took 40 years for Pierre Pilote's number 3 to be retired, and he's in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, Pilote shares the distinction with Keith Magnuson, whose name hangs in the rafters out of respect for the man as much as the performance of the player.
Here are a few of the accolades the organization should consider now that Larmer's number (that's right - 28 will ALWAYS be Steve Larmer's) is available to be placed where it belongs in the rafters.
He is the franchise's all-time career leader in:
- Plus-Minus (+182)
- Game-Winning Goals (49)
- Power Play Goals (153)
He also ranks in the organization's Top Ten in the following (regular season):
- Games Played: 7th (891)
- Goals: 3rd (406)
- Assists: 5th (517)
- Points: 4th (923)
- Shots: 2nd (2,541)
In the postseason, Larmer ranks:
- 7th in games played (107)
- 4th in goals scored (45)
- 4th in assists (66)
- 4th in points (111)
- 4th (tie) in game-winning goals (6, with D. Savard)
- 2nd in power play goals (18)
He didn't miss a game for an entire decade. His 884 consecutive regular season games without missing is an NHL record with a single franchise.
- Only eight (8) Chicago Blackhawks have won the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year since 1926. Larmer is one of them.
- Only 5 Blackhawks averaged a full point per game in their Blackhawks career (min. 500 GP): Mikita, Hull, Savard, Larmer & Roenick
- He played in the postseason after every season he was a member of the Blackhawks.
- Named one of the right wings on the Blackhawks 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
- Awarded The Hockey News/Inside Hockey “Man of the Year” after the 1990-91 season.
We've established that Larmer was one of the best players to ever wear the Indian Head sweater. But there's more to this than just his place in Chicago history.
When current Hawks forward Marian Hossa reached 1,000 points earlier this season, he became only the 24th right wing in league history to hit the benchmark. Only two other active right wings – Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla – have passed 1,000 career regular season points.
Consider, for a moment, the right wings in NHL history who averaged at least one full point per game for more than 1,000 games in their career:
- Gordie Howe – 1,850 points in 1,767 games HOF
- Teemu Selanne – 1,457 points in 1,451 games
- Jari Kurri – 1,398 points in 1,251 games HOF
- Brett Hull – 1,391 points in 1,269 games HOF
- Guy Lafleur – 1,353 points in 1,126 games HOF
- Mike Bossy – 1,126 points in 752 games HOF
- Theo Fleury – 1,088 points in 1,084 games
- Joe Mullen – 1,063 points in 1,062 games HOF
- Alex Mogilny – 1,032 points in 990 games
- Steve Larmer – 1,012 points in 1,006 games
Of the eight players on this list with Larmer who are eligible for the Hall of Fame, only Fleury and Mogilny haven’t gone in yet. And in a few short years, Selanne will take his rightful place with the all-time greats without a doubt.
If Larmer sits at or near the top of every individual statistic in franchise history - regular or postseason - and is name can be mentioned on lists like the one above, the evidence is overwhelming.
Do the right thing, Hawks. Put 28 where it belongs.