By Doug Halberstadt
Congratulations to the Rockford IceHogs on winning the Stanley Cup. All right, that might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s not too far off.
Ten former IceHogs skaters had a hand in the Chicago Blackhawks’ first Championship run in 49 years, including Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Nick Boynton, Troy Brouwer, Dustin Byfuglien, Jordan Hendry, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Colin Fraser, Antti Niemi and Kris Versteeg.
In addition to the above 10 players who appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Blackhawks, former IceHogs Corey Crawford, Jake Dowell and Jack Skille all played with Chicago during the regular season in 2009-2010.
Byfuglien made a case for himself as a VIP candidate for the playoffs. He tallied 11 goals in the post-season. Possibly the biggest one was on a power play in the first period of the decisive game six. His goal set the stage for Chicago to go on to win that game, and their first NHL championship since 1961.
In the four goals scored in the championship game, former IceHogs aided in three of those four. Bolland set up Patrick Sharp for Chicago’s second goal in the second period, tying the contest at 2-2, and Hjalmarsson’s point blast was redirected past Michael Leighton by Andrew Ladd later in the middle stanza to give the Hawks a 3-2 advantage.
Niemi was solid between the pipes for the Blackhawks. He was the goalie of record for all of their post-season games and picked up his 16th win of the playoffs in the championship game.
In addition to the former IceHogs who made contributions on the ice, several former IceHogs coaches and front-office people also were a part of this history-making team and will have their names engraved on the cup. Former IceHogs Head Coach Mike Haviland served as the Blackhawks’ assistant coach. Former IceHogs Equipment Manager Jim Heintzleman is Chicago’s assistant manager.
Rockford’s first AHL general manager, Al MacIsaac, is on the Chicago staff as he is the team’s senior director of hockey administration and assistant to the president. Current IceHogs team President Mark Bernard is also a member of the Hockey Operations Department, serving as the Blackhawks’ general manager of minor league affiliations.
As I said at the beginning, to all of the former IceHogs who are now Blackhawks, CONGRATULATIONS!
From the June 16-22, 2010 issue