Don’t you just hate it when you’re a future Hall of Famer and you’re on the golf course when you find out you just got traded for another future Hall of Famer? After 736 games and 1,013 points with the Blackhawks, that’s exactly what happened to Denis Savard. The kicker? He was traded for a local boy who also happened to be a Norris Trophy-winner: Chris Chelios.
The two discussed learning of the June 1990 trade on the “Be Chicago: Together We Can” fundraising special on NBC Sports Chicago.
“I was at Butler National playing golf,” recalled Savard. The golf pro came out on to the course and informed Savard he had an “important phone call” from his agent. “I go, ‘Wow, right,’ he doesn’t call for any circumstances really, so he’s probably gonna call for something very important.”
So, naturally, Savard’s initial reaction was, “Ya know, I’ll get back to him.” Because, naturally, you’ve got to finish out the front-nine. "At the time, Mike Keenan and I (didn't have) the best relationship as a coach and player,” said Savard. But he didn’t expect a trade to happen just yet.
“So I’m done through nine holes and I called back and right then I knew that I was traded to Montreal,” said Savard, who was born and raised in Quebec. “Kind of shocked in a sense. Expected something to happen, maybe not the summer but down the line possibly.”
So while being traded close to home might have been nice, Savard was rattled when he got back on the golf course.
“Not too often do I play well at golf, but I had a good round that day, played really well,” Savard remembered. “I went back on the number 10...and I made a 12. Butler number 10 is a tough hole, but still, making 12 is not a good number. I play number 11, looked at my partner, play number 12…’I think we should probably go in. I think we’re out of the hunt.’”
For Chelios, the trade surprised him as well, but he was glad it was to his hometown team.
“It’s like that saying when you buy a boat...it was the best day and the worst day of my life,” said Chelios. “I wasn’t expecting to get traded, quite honestly. Had it been any other city than Chicago I would have been really disappointed.
“Coming back to my family, my friends, all the kids I grew up playing with, it’s a dream come true,” said the 26-year NHL veteran.
Chelios had individual success, winning a pair of Norris Trophies, but couldn’t bring the Stanley Cup home to Chicago.
“It worked out great,” Chelios said. “We had some great years. Came up short from winning the Cup there in ‘91, but exciting years.”
Chelios and Savard ultimately became teammates for a couple of seasons when Savard returned in 1994 and the two now share a role with the organization as Blackhawks ambassadors.
“I always knew I’d come back someday, even after the trade,” Chelios said of the 1999 deal that sent him to the Red Wings. And Savard echoed the sentiment, saying, “I go to win the Stanley Cup there in ‘93 and we know the story now. Cheli and I have been together for a year or so back as Ambassadors doing our parts.”