The Circus Trip: Blackhawks moments to remember

The Circus Trip: Blackhawks moments to remember

CALGARY, Alberta – The Circus Trip. It’s garnered a name and presence all its own in its years of existence.

A staple of the Blackhawks’ season (and the Bulls’ too), it’s as synonymous with them as their raucous national anthem at the United Center. Regardless of their record at the end of this trip this season, the Blackhawks will likely remember it for a long time. Because it’s their last.

As Chris Kuc reported in Monday’s Chicago Tribune, this is the final Circus Trip for the Blackhawks and Bulls. No more two-week absences from the United Center every November. There will no longer be that lengthy trek through Western Canada and California. From now on, the Blackhawks (we figure, anyway) will have a more normal travel schedule.

Still, we’ll never forget this trip. As coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday, “it’s worked out pretty well.” Well, at least the last few years it has. So before we get into the heart of the final one, let’s look back at some of the Blackhawks’ good and bad Circus Trip moments.

1. Welcome to the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa. As we talk of Hossa’s resurgence this season let’s go back to his first game with the Blackhawks, Nov. 25, 2009. On that night Hossa was part of a special game, as the Blackhawks tied a franchise record with three short-handed goals in a 7-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Hossa had one of those short-handed efforts (Troy Brouwer and Patrick Sharp had the other two).

2. A line is born. The 2014-15 Blackhawks were so-so to start the season and struggling to find balanced lines. On this trip they struck gold when they formed the second line of Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. The trio paced the Blackhawks, who went 5-1-0 on that trip.

3. One streak ends, another continues. When the Los Angeles Kings came back to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime last Nov. 28, it was the first time the Blackhawks lost a regular-season game after leading through the first 40 minutes since April 12, 2014. But, it was a good night individually for Kane, who recorded a point in his 19th consecutive game. That eclipsed the record for a U.S.-born player, which was shared by Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel at the time. Kane’s streak would reach 26 consecutive games. 

4. A rough night vs. their rivals. Those of us who cover the Circus Trip now have seen the Blackhawks have a ton of success on it. But back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, not so much. The Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues game on Nov. 27, 1999 was particularly painful for several reasons. First, Jocelyn Thibault left the game early after an Al MacInnis slap shot broke his left ring finger. Then Marc Lamothe, making his NHL debut, allowed seven more goals en route to the Blues’ 8-3 victory over the Blackhawks. Double ouch, indeed.

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5. Home cooking. In the Blackhawks’ first trip to Winnipeg in 2013, Jonathan Toews’ five-game point streak was snapped. When the Blackhawks returned on Nov. 21 of that year Toews was stellar, recording a four-point game (a goal, three assists) in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 victory over the Jets. This game jump-started the Blackhawks, coming off a 5-1 loss to Colorado the previous game, to finish this Circus Trip with five consecutive victories.

6. A bad penalty kill night. The Blackhawks had their rough moments earlier this season on the kill but they didn’t have a game like they did against the New York Rangers on Dec. 6, 1995. That night the Blackhawks played the Rangers to a 5-5 tie but all of the Rangers’ goals were power-play goals, the fourth time the Blackhawks had allowed that many to an opponent in a game in franchise history.

7. A lopsided one in Edmonton. The Blackhawks’ games against the Oilers on their long trips are either really good or really terrible. The one we’re discussing here, from Nov. 19, 2011, was the latter. Then-Oilers forward Taylor Hall recorded his second career hat trick as Edmonton pummeled the Blackhawks 9-2. The Blackhawks had a quick trip to Las Vegas planned following this game, and we wondered if they’d go after that drubbing. They did. 

8. A plucky comeback. Entering their game against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 25, 2011, the Blackhawks had lost three in a row on their Circus Trip (including the previously mentioned game vs. Edmonton). After the first 40 minutes of this one, they trailed the Ducks 4-2. But when the third period started, the Blackhawks’ offense woke up. Toews and Sharp each scored twice in the first 9:22 of the third period as the Blackhawks came back to win 6-5. 

Former Blackhawks Stanley Cup champion Brandon Bollig announces retirement


Former Blackhawks Stanley Cup champion Brandon Bollig announces retirement

A former Blackhawks Stanley Cup champion has decided to hang up the skates.

Brandon Bollig officially announced his retirement in an Instagram post after five seasons in the NHL, three of which came in Chicago.

"Thank you to the game of Ice Hockey for the wonderful experience, countless memories and valuable lessons," Bollig wrote. "You’ve made me the person I am today and I’ll be forever grateful. I have officially retired."

Bollig signed with the Blackhawks as an undrafted free agent in 2010, but didn't make his team debut until the 2011-12 campaign. In three seasons in Chicago, he accumulated 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 125 games and 201 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 24 playoff contests, where he recorded a goal and an assist, and was a part of the 2013 championship-winning team.

Bollig was traded for a third-round pick in the summer of 2014 to the Calgary Flames, where he spent his final two seasons in the league. He signed a one-year, two-way contract with the San Jose Sharks for the 2017-18 season, but never received a call-up and was later traded to the Nashville Predators organization.

Bollig was known for being an agitator and great teammate, sticking up for them on the ice whenever the chance presented itself. But he was also known for being a jokester.

So let's never forget the time he tried to imitate Patrick Kane's viral stickhandling video and send him off into the sunset by reliving it:

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Blackhawks prospects Evan Barratt, Ian Mitchell nominated for Hobey Baker Award


Blackhawks prospects Evan Barratt, Ian Mitchell nominated for Hobey Baker Award

A pair of 2017 Blackhawks draft picks are up for college hockey's most prestigious honor.

Penn State forward Evan Barratt and Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell are among the 81 players nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, which is annually given to the most outstanding player in Division-1 men's hockey.

Barratt, a third-round selection (No. 90 overall), is tied for second in the nation with 30 points and fourth with 13 goals through only 19 games. He appeared in seven games for Team USA during the 2019 World Juniors, where he scored a goal and ranked second on the team with 25 shots on goal.

Mitchell, a second-round selection (No. 57 overall), leads all Denver defensemen with 18 points and ranks fifth on the team with 0.83 points per game. Two of his three goals this season have been game-winners. Like Barratt, Mitchell also represented his country for the World Juniors. He had three points (one goal, three assists), a plus-6 rating and averaged 15:42 of ice time for Canada.

The Phase 1 fan voting period is officially open and will run through Sunday, March 10. The Top-10 finalists will be announced on March 20. From then until March 31, Phase II voting will be open to determine the Hobey Hat Trick, which will be announced on April 4. 

The winner will be revealed on April 12 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Fans can cast their vote at .

Dylan Sikura was named one of 10 finalists last season, and was the first Blackhawks prospect to do so since Tyler Motte in 2016.

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