10 best Chicago Blackhawks defensemen in franchise history
Blueliners often go unheralded compared to their forward teammates, but a great defense is critical to success in the NHL. Whether it’s defenders shutting down opposing scorers, creating plays for teammates or putting the puck in the net themselves, the Blackhawks have been graced with great defensive play that runs the gamut.
There are Hall-of-Famers, Conn Smythe and Norris winners, and a few Stanley Cup champs too.
Here is our list of the best Blackhawks defensemen of all-time.
No. 10: Niklas Hjalmarsson
A super solid D-man who was absolutely relentless and fearless in his pursuit of the puck, “Nik” never met a shot he didn’t try to block. Despite his propensity for sacrificing his body to stop a shot, he miraculously ranks in the top-10 for games played with the Blackhawks and for plus/minus. “Hammer” was a key factor in all three Stanley Cup wins for the Blackhawks in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
No. 9: Pat “Whitey” Stapleton
Stapleton was an anchor for the Blackhawks blueline from 1966 through 1973. Known more for his offensive production, “Whitey” could get the puck to the scorers from the back end like few ever could. In 1969, he was the first defenseman to record 50 assists in a year and is the Blackhawks' all-time defensive leader in plus/minus with a +201 in 545 games.
No. 8: Keith Magnuson
Numbers alone cannot tell you the important role “Maggie” played as a Blackhawk. He was “the red-haired barbarian” defending his teammates as ferociously as he did his own zone. Although not a top-10 guy in games played, goals, assists or points, Magnuson is tied for fourth all-time in plus/minus with a +168, and second all-time in penalty minutes with 1,440 in 589 games.
No. 7: Bob Murray
Top-10 in games played, goals, assists and points for the Hawks all-time, Bob Murray was your classic offensive defenseman. He's only the fourth player in franchise history with more than 1,000 games in the Blackhawk sweater. You don’t see that much ice time unless you are contributing. He wasn’t the fastest, wasn’t the biggest but always found a way to get involved in the offense. Played his entire career in Chicago.
No. 6 Keith Brown
Brown exemplifies the “steady two-way defenseman.” He ranks in the top-10 in every category except plus/minus, where he is still in the top-20. Reached double figures in goals twice in his career and was part of four Conference semi-finalist teams, in 1982, '83, '85 and '89. He also was a member of the 1992 Stanley Cup runner-up team. “Brownie” might even be higher on this list if he could have stayed healthy.
No. 5: Brent Seabrook
Top-10 in every category for Blackhawks defensemen. Has played all 82 games in a season five times in his career. Was the first drafted player for the Blackhawks to arrive on the scene and turn the franchise’s fortunes around. Named to the All-Star team in 2015. His two best abilities: availability and reliability. Always there, always a factor, never looking for the spotlight but making a world of difference on the ice. “Seabs” is a winner. Period.
No. 4: Duncan Keith
A two-time Norris Trophy winner, 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, three Stanley Cups, four-time All Star and two-time Olympic Gold medalist. By the way, Duncan is top-10 in every category for the Hawks except penalty minutes. Next up: the Hockey Hall of Fame.
No. 3: Chris Chelios
Chicago-born Blackhawk through and through. Captain of the team from 1995-1999 and won two of his three Norris trophies with the Hawks. “Cheli” was an All-Star every year he was a Blackhawk. Top-10 in every measurable category for the Hawks and Hockey Hall of Famer. He was great before he got to Chicago, was great in Chicago, and was great when he left Chicago.
No. 2: Doug Wilson
Wilson was the defensive face of the Blackhawks in the 1980s. An offensive defenseman, he ranks in the top-10 in games played, goals, assists, points and penalties. He was an eight-time All-Star and five-time Norris trophy nominee. He was the Blackhawks’ scoring leader on defense for 10 straight seasons and was just recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after a 24-year wait.
No. 1: Pierre Pilote
Blackhawks Captain who is in or among the top-10 in every stat for Blackhawks in the defense position. Pilote won the Norris trophy three times and finished second twice as a Blackhawk. He was vital to the 1961 Stanley Cup-winning team. Hall of Famer whose number hangs from the rafters.