Twenty years ago was the 1990-91 season–a season in hockey that I will never forget. My Aunt Gayle had season tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks, and I went to a lot of games that year. The ‘Hawks were the best team during the regular season. The All-Star Game was in Chicago. And let us not forget that the hockey card scene EXPLODED in 1990-91…but that’s another story.
Being 15 years old at the time and into everything hockey, I saved a lot of stuff from that year. Not just the cards, but anything I could get my hands on. Here is a roster sheet from the annual 1990 Blackhawks Red Vs. White Scrimmage–or the “Red-White Game” as us ‘Hawks fans called it.
As you can see, it is a pretty nondescript sheet of paper–hastily typed out on a typewriter (remember those?), photocopied and then passed out at the game during the first period.
The Red-White Game took place on September 15, 1990–the day before the ‘Hawks first preseason game that year. Although it was free to go to this game, the old Chicago Stadium was not packed. I guess only the die-hards or crazy people (more on those later) would really want to see a free scrimmage.
Most of the Blackhawks best players did not participate in the game–including Jeremy Roenick, Michel Goulet and Doug Wilson. Instead, it was an interesting mix of veterans, prospects, guys who never made it and a few surprises.
A few tidbits on Team Red...
- Alex Roberts, Tracy Egeland and Owen Lessard would never make it to the NHL.
- Jim Johansson never played in the NHL either, but did play in two Olympics for Team USA.
- Sean McKenna–a veteran of 414 NHL games–did not make the team and retired soon after this game.
- Steve Larmer would play in his 9th consecutive season without missing a game, and led the ‘Hawks in scoring in ’90-91 with 101 points.
- Jim Playfair would only play 23 games in the NHL, but is currently enjoying a long career in coaching (15 years and counting)
Some of the highlights and low lights from Team White…
- This was Chris Chelios‘ debut as a Blackhawk.
- Trevor Dam and Mike Speer never made it to the NHL.
- Jeff Sirkka also never played in the NHL, but had a 12-year professional career.
- Previously, Dale Henry played 132 games for the New York Islanders, but would play the rest of his career in the minors or Europe.
- Eric Klutke was from Crystal Lake (a suburb of Chicago), and played two seasons for the CCHA’s University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. He played in the ECHL that year, then retired.
- Enforcer Wayne Van Dorp would soon be lost to the Quebec Nordiques in the Waiver Draft next month. He was one of my favorite players the previous season.
- Rookie goaltender Ed Belfour would surprise everyone that season by winning the Calder, Vezina and Jennings trophies.
- Dominik Hasek would play in half the game for Team White. This was his first-ever action with an NHL team.
I don’t remember the score to this game. But there are many things I do remember.
Chris Chelios got a standing ovation when he stepped on the ice. This was his debut as a ‘Hawk, and since he was from Chicago the fans automatically liked him.
I remember Ed Belfour, Steve Larmer and Wayne Van Dorp–seriously–getting much applause from the fans. Some guy behind me kept yelling “Go get ’em, Dorper!”
My sister R.J. caught a puck at the game. Well, actually it landed at her feet and she picked it up. But that caused a commotion. Some guy next to us got mad because he thought his daughter should have the puck. He even got security involved–the poor guard just shrugged and apologized to us. Like I said earlier, the scrimmage attracted die-hard fans and crazy people.
We moved to the other end of the rink at intermission to get away from the jerk, and ended up below the press box. Coach Mike Keenan was up there.
“Hey Mike,” I yelled up to him. Keenan made eye contact with me and leaned over the railing to hear what this then 15-year old fan had to say. “What’s this ‘Youth Movement’ you keep talking about? You traded away our prospects for old men like Millen and Goulet!”
Some fans started laughing–Iron Mike got pwned by a kid!–but I’d later regret saying that to him. Goulet turned out to be a very good player for the Blackhawks.
Overall, I am so glad I went to this scrimmage. I can say that I saw Chris Chelios’s first unofficial game with the Blackhawks. I can say that I saw Dominik Hasek’s first-ever NHL action. I don’t know which side won, and I can’t find that puck my sister caught. All that’s left is this wrinkled sheet of paper and a few fleeting memories.