Some Chicago sports fans were lucky to witness two three-peats in the mid-90s, courtesy of Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
Could the Blackhawks have reached those lofty heights? Or at the very least, could they have secured a back-to-back championship?
15-year Hawks veteran Duncan Keith was part of all three Stanley Cup champion teams— 2010, 2013 and 2015. But even he, like so many die-hard Blackhawks fans, wonders ‘what could have been.’
The longtime defenseman was part of the recent 2010 Chicago Blackhawks Player Reunion Show, which celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the team winning its first of three Cups in six seasons.
“It was a two-year team in the making,” Keith said. “The year before, we lost to Detroit in the Western Conference Final and it kind of carried over. I look back on that team…you had guys end up going to different organizations and starring and being captains and top players. Had that team been able to stay together…we would have been able to really show what we could do with confidence knowing that we’d won before.”
The 2009-10 season was one for the books for Keith. In addition to being the anchor of the blue line, he notched career highs in goals (14), assists (55) and points (69). He also won the first of two Norris Memorial Trophies that season.
The Hawks’ win over the Flyers that season helped wipe away 49 years of anguish for the franchise. Patrick Kane’s game-winner in overtime of Game 6 gave Chicago its first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
But some of the team’s key cogs soon went elsewhere. The Blackhawks traded Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Bren Sopel to Atlanta. Then they dealt Colin Fraser to Edmonton for a sixth-round draft pick. A week later, Kris Versteeg was part of a five-player trade with Toronto. Andrew Ladd was traded a day later— the same day Adam Burish signed as a free agent with Dallas. In September, goaltender Antti Niemi would sign as a free agent with San Jose. Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky were dealt the following summer.
“If we would have been able to stick together, it would have been a pretty mean machine to deal with,” Keith said. "We were a confident group as it was. But if you’d just imagine the confidence that we would have had as a group had we been able to stick together with a championship under our belt already. I guess it’s always easy to look back and think what could have happened.”
And if you ever wondered why the celebration after the 2010 Cup was so special — lasting well into the days and weeks that followed — Keith made it clear.
“That celebration— I think a lot of it was just the fact that we knew kind of in the back of our minds that we weren’t going to be able to keep everybody around…and the team was going to get broken up because of the cap so I think there was some subconscious stuff going on there knowing that we wanted to do it for each other. That’s how close we were.”