By: Alex Patt
The second I heard Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was retiring, my mind immediately went to game 7 of the 2013 second round. That magical night back in 2013 not only paved the way to a dynasty, but redeemed years of torture at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.
Let me make one thing clear, I have always had the utmost respect for the Red Wings. Their run from the mid-90s through the 2000s was nothing short of extraordinary and they had some very respectable players/coaches/executives during that era.
Being a Blackhawks fan during that era though, it was tough. While the Blackhawks slipped into irrelevancy in the late-90s, the Wings began multiple runs at Stanley Cups. Not to mention they had their way with the Blackhawks. The 90s and 2000s saw the Blackhawks go 49-77-12 against the Red Wings, 89 losses total vs. just 49 wins. When the Blackhawks were in the “dark ages” of the 2000s with last place finishes, low attendance and blacked out games on TV the Red Wings fans turned the United Center into “Joe Louis West” when Detroit came to town. For a while it was not much of a rivalry, just one great franchise vs. an irrelevant and terrible one. It felt similar to way the Bears-Packers rivalry feels now, except Detroit was winning a lot more titles.
Even with the rise of the Blackhawks in the late-2000s and their Stanley Cup victory in 2010, the Red Wings still had the upper hand. Remember that they beat the Blackhawks in the 2009 conference finals, which at least proved to be a nice learning experience, but still.
Then we get to 2013. The Blackhawks in the lockout season had the NHL’s best record and would face their rivals in the second round before the Wings would move to the East the following year. We all remember how it happened with the 3-1 Wings lead and the Blackhawks battling back to force a seventh game at the United Center; the Blackhawks erased 3-1 deficits before it was cool. Game 7 had more than just a playoff series on the line, but a future dynasty and turning point in the rivalry. Either the reputation of the Red Wings as the “Big Brother” was going to continue, or the Blackhawks were going to finally rise above their superiors.
Where was I? In my basement at home with my friends Brian, Eric, Joe and Stephen. I was both pumped and nervous for the game, and having buddies around made the experience even better. It was the summer between freshman and sophomore year of college and I was texting with some of my college buddies during the game as well. With the score being 1-1 late in the third my heart was pounding out of my chest as I was just praying they could break through.
Then the worst call ever…
Let’s just say I had a few choice words for the officiating when Niklas Hjalmarsson’s potential series-winning goal with a few minutes left in regulation was called back. If me watching that game was on reality TV, Chef Gordon Ramsay would be impressed with what came out of my mouth. Going into OT, all I could think about was if they lost that game after that shitty call. Overall the intermission was pretty much a blur to me and before I knew it OT was starting.
16:25 in overtime, Brent Seabrook picks up the puck in the neutral zone along the boards, passes the blueline into the Wings zone and wrists one past Jimmy Howard. Game over. Series over. Pain over. My buddies all cheered, while I cheered and jumped around like an absolute freak. I think I hit my head on my ceiling tile three or four times. I dreamed of the day the Blackhawks would win a game like this against their biggest rivals and it had finally come.
As the Blackhawks went on to the conference finals, they left behind a dark era for Chicago. The once dominant Red Wings were at the end of an era and the Blackhawks were hitting their prime. This is not something the Chicago faithful had felt in over a decade. To think they were just one loss away in three straight games from that nightmare continuing. While the win goes to the entire team, the one with the KO punch was Seabrook.
Old #7 had plenty of other clutch playoff moments in his career, including: OT goal in Game 4 of the 2013 Cup Finals against Boston, OT goal in Game 4 of the 2015 first round against Nashville, and of course his famous pep talk to Jonathan Toews. His goal against Detroit was the cherry on top of his career.
Congrats to Brent Seabrook on an incredibly successful career. Thanks for the memories.