Before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane; before the acquisitions of Marion Hossa, Brian Campbell and Patrick Sharp; before three Stanley Cups in six years during the “cup era” under Coach Joel Quenneville; before fans were even in the stands and home games were televised locally — there was Brent Seabrook.
Selected 14th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft, one year prior to longtime defensive partner Duncan Keith and in the same draft as Corey Crawford (52nd overall) and Dustin Byfuglien (245th overall), Brent Seabrook was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks’ General Manager Bob Pulford. The pick served as a spark for one of the most important and best defensive tandems in the NHL.
Along with Keith, Seabrook discovered his game during one of the darkest times in franchise history. The Chicago Blackhawks were a laughing stock in not only the city itself, but league-wide. Keith and Seabrook rose through the ranks, and when all the pieces fell into place, they had revived a franchise back from the dead.
In addition to three Stanley Cups, Seabrook would win gold medals in the 2003 IIHF World Under-18 Championships, the 2005 World Junior Championships, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also won a silver medal in the 2004 World Junior Championships. When Patrick Sharp was traded to the Dallas Stars, Seabrook was named as a Blackhawks alternate captain in 2015.
After 15 years in the NHL, the longtime Blackhawks defenseman officially announced his retirement from the NHL. The decision was made after multiple surgeries Seabrook had on both hips and his right shoulder, from which he was unable to fully recover. Seabrook’s retirement follows longtime goalie Corey Crawford’s, as both retired this season.
“I am so proud to have played my entire 15-year National Hockey League career in Chicago with the Blackhawks. It was an honor to play the game that I love, with teammates I love, in front of fans I love, in a city that my family and I have grown to love. After several surgeries, countless hours of rehab and training to get back on the ice at the level of my expectations, it will not be possible for me to continue playing hockey. This is what is best for me and my family. The love and support of my wife, Dayna, and my kids, Carter, Kenzie and Dylan has meant everything to me. My parents, Gary and Suzanne, and my brother Keith, have been behind me every step of the way and are my foundation.
I want to thank the Blackhawks organization – including the Wirtz Family, Rocky and Danny Wirtz, Stan Bowman and Jeremy Colliton – who have been very supportive throughout this process. I’m thankful for all that the Blackhawks have done for me and my career. This organization drafted me as an 18-year-old kid out of western Canada and this team became my family away from home. In addition, I’m thankful for the Blackhawks medical and training staff for always putting me in the best position to succeed on the ice. Over the past 15 years, I’ve played with and for some incredible teammates and coaches. I thank each and every one of you. It was an honor to wear the Blackhawks sweater and go to battle with you night in and night out. I loved being your teammate.
Lastly, to the great fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, thank you. I sacrificed everything for this team in our quest to lift three Stanley Cups and gave it everything I had for you. I couldn’t have asked for a better fan base to play for. You, more than anyone, kept me honest and always pushed me to be better – while also cheering me as your All-Star and Champion. Lifting the Stanley Cup in 2015 in front of all the fans at the United Center will be a memory I’ll never forget. You have truly made Chicago a second home. My family and I will be forever grateful for your love and support and I look forward to always having a special connection with you the fans. I will always be a Blackhawk.”
In 1,114 games played with Chicago, Seabrook amassed 103 goals, 361 assists, 464 points, and +111 rating. In a career full of great moments, he will always be remembered for finally slaying the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the 2013 Western Conference Semi-Finals, the year before Detroit left the Central Division and en route to the Hawks’ second Stanley Cup in three years.
Seabrook’s physicality and his leadership were two of his greatest attributes. His monstrous over-the-boards check of Red Wing forward Dan Cleary in the 2009 Winter Classic and his crunching blow to David Backes in Game 2 of the 2014 First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs stand out in particular. In addition, the image of Seabrook skating to the penalty box to calm down a frazzled and frustrated Jonathan Toews during their 2013 playoff series with Detroit will never be forgotten.
In light of Seabrook and Crawford’s retirement, there are only four Blackhawks remaining from the “cup era” still on the roster: Captain Jonathan Toews, forward Andrew Shaw, and alternate captains Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. As players like Brandon Hagel, Pius Suter, Philip Kurashev, Kevin Lankinen, and Ian Mitchell make names for themselves; and players like Kirby Dach and Alex Debrincat take the next steps in their careers; the changing of the guard continues, just as it did with a young kid out of Western Canada, so many years ago.
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