Chicago Blackhawks 2023 Year in Review: Best goal, most memorable game, and more

Chicago Blackhawks 2023 Year in Review: Best goal, most memorable game, and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

With 2023 just about to come to an end, let’s look back and reflect on some of the most memorable moments of the year for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Best goal: Connor Bedard pulls off The Michigan

Bedard’s rookie highlight reel is already a pretty long list, and at the very top of it so far is him pulling off The Michigan in St. Louis. It was so smooth and lit the internet on fire.

Best goal that didn’t count: Patrick Kane‘s near buzzer beater vs. Vegas

In his final game with the Blackhawks at the United Center before the trade deadline, it looked like Kane scored a buzzer-beater goal in overtime against Vegas. The television clock showed 0.1 seconds left, but the in-arena clock — the actual one — showed 0.0 right before the puck went into the net. It would’ve been such an electric finish.

Save of the Year: Petr Mrazek‘s desperation stick save vs. Vancouver

Alex Stalock made a terrific stick save on Nathan MacKinnon on March 20, but my vote goes to Mrazek, whose desperation stick save on Nils Hoglander against Vancouver on Dec. 17 was a thing of beauty. The fans at the United Center gave him a standing ovation after watching the replay.

Most exciting moment: Blackhawks win 2023 NHL Draft lottery

Everything changed for the Blackhawks on May 8 when the ping-pong balls bounced in Chicago’s favor. It was the second time in franchise history the Blackhawks landed the No. 1 overall pick, with Patrick Kane being the first in 2007.

It was a perfect draft to win the lottery, too. Connor Bedard was arguably the best draft-eligible prospect since Connor McDavid, who was taken first overall by Edmonton in 2015.

Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said he “blacked out” when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly flipped the card over for the No. 1 overall pick and it showed Chicago.

“I think I just said, ‘Wow,’ Davidson said. “You understand the impact that a first overall pick can have and having the first overall pick in the right year. Hopefully that’s what we’ve got here and it can change a franchise, it can change a city and it can change an era in a team’s history. So, there’s a lot of weight to that and a lot of significance to that.”

Bedard is a generational-type talent, and he has already lived up to the hype so far.

Most memorable game: Jonathan Toews‘ farewell at the United Center

On April 13, Toews played his final game with the Blackhawks. It was announced beforehand that it would be his last one with the organization, which gave the city of Chicago an opportunity to say goodbye.

Fittingly, Toews scored a goal — and nearly ended it in overtime on a breakaway but he barely missed. The Blackhawks lost to Philadelphia, but the memorable moment happened after the game when he saluted the crowd with a few laps around the ice.

“I’m blown away,” Toews said. “I really felt almost unworthy of a moment like that. … I’ll always be a Blackhawk for the rest of my life. You grow up dreaming of being an NHL hockey player and you idolize your heroes and you live for those big moments and when things like that happen, you realize it’s more than a game. And it makes it all worthwhile. So it’s pretty special.”

Losses mourned: Bobby Hull and Rocky Wirtz pass away

The Blackhawks family lost a few legends in 2023, the first being Bobby Hull, who died on Jan. 30 at the age of 84. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals with 604.

And on July 25, the Blackhawks announced chairman Rocky Wirtz passed away at the age of 70 following a brief illness. Legendary Blackhawks TV play-by-play announcer Pat Foley summed up Rocky’s legacy the best at the public memorial service: “He did not revitalize this franchise; I don’t think that does him justice. I believe he saved it. Before he took over, the Blackhawks were irrelevant. Rocky made you feel welcomed.”

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