After battling some critical accidents to his again and hips, Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook has determined to hold up his skates. The Hawks rearguard performed 1,114 video games in his NHL profession, however solely 32 final 12 months and none this season. However Seabrook’s legacy has already been clearly outlined: a three-time Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist who will go down as among the best defensemen ever to play for the franchise.
What could have been misplaced about Seabrook nevertheless, is simply how far again he goes with the Hawks. Drafted 14th general by Chicago again in 2003, he was a full-time NHLer by 2005-06. So Seabrook was skating for the group earlier than they’d even drafted future offensive cornerstones Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The large, rangy blueliner broke in similtaneously fellow D-man and eventual companion in crime Duncan Keith, again when Chicago was nonetheless within the depths of despair as a franchise.
The group would not make the playoffs in Seabrook’s first three seasons, however as soon as that rebuild started to take maintain, the Hawks would start an ascent that led the franchise into its greatest years ever, culminating in three Cups starting in 2010, with championships in 2013 and 2015 as nicely.
Throughout his heyday, Seabrook was a beast in his personal finish, enjoying huge minutes, throwing hits and blocking pictures whereas additionally chipping in some offense. Nevertheless it was additionally the intangibles he dropped at the group that elevated him into the pantheon of true Chicago greats.
Maybe the very best instance of this got here within the 2013 playoffs when captain Toews – often a rock for Chicago – was struggling mightily in a collection towards Detroit. Toews took three straight minor penalties in Recreation 4 and as he was melting down within the field, it was Seabrook who skated over and comforted the franchise heart with a mini-pep discuss and a pair pats on the top. Chicago went down 3-1 in that second-round collection, however Toews rebounded in Recreation 5 and the Hawks ended up turning it round and ousting Detroit in seven video games – with Seabrook scoring the extra time winner. Chicago ended up beating Boston in six video games to earn the Cup that 12 months and Seabrook as soon as once more performed a clutch function, scoring the extra time winner in Recreation 4 towards the Bruins.
A lot has been manufactured from the ultimate contract Seabrook signed with Chicago – a mammoth eight-year, $55 million pact that instantly seemed unhealthy when it was inked in 2015. The sport was getting quicker and Seabrook was slowing down, however looking back it isn’t the worst factor that ever occurred. GM Stan Bowman clearly valued Seabrook’s previous contributions and though the large blueliner wasn’t as efficient within the ensuing years, Chicago has maintained a profitable tradition regardless of already going by an acknowledged rebuild. Seabrook’s presence throughout these connecting eras shouldn’t be minimized.
As for Seabrook’s place in hockey historical past, he’s very a lot in the identical boat as one other current retiree, goalie Corey Crawford: integral to his franchise, however not fairly at Hockey Corridor of Fame stage. Seabrook has a pleasant trophy case of group awards, however nothing particular person to his identify. And that is high-quality; as I discussed off the hop, he is one of many Hawks’ greatest defensemen ever, rubbing shoulders with Keith, Doug Wilson, Pierre Pilote and Bob Murray.
It nearly goes with out query that Seabrook’s No. 7 will probably be retired to the rafters of the United Middle within the close to future. He did not exit the best way he would have needed to, however together with his damage historical past, Seabrook did not have a selection. He finishes his enjoying profession as soon as a Hawk, all the time a Hawk.