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Chicago Blackhawks

Team Overview: It has been said that playing as Chicago is like logging in as invincible. The truth doesn’t stray far from that, due in large part to the cover boy of NHL ’94, Jeremy Roenick. Ed Belfour and Chris Chelios also play vital roles in supporting JR which help propel the Hawks into being one of the powerhouses of the league. A lack of depth though does provide a chink in the armor for which a skilled opponent can exploit.

Forwards: Any forward corps with Roenick is a dangerous one, with that said though; the Hawks don’t have the most dangerous line combination in the league. Steve Larmer is a nice support piece, but he isn’t exactly what Ciccarelli is to Yzerman or Ronning is to Bure. After that though, the forward talent takes a swift nose dive to where a bevy of candidates can fill the 3rd forward role.

JR and his Jr.’s:


Joe Murphy: 7 weight, 4/4 skating, 4/3 shot, 3 sth, 4 pass, 4/3 aware, Shoots: L

Here we have candidate #1 for the coveted 3rd forward spot, Murphy’s skill set would seem to lend him a major helping hand in locking the spot down. Alas, Murphy isn’t quite as good as advertised. Ideally, someone riding shotgun with Roenick would either be a speedy mucker who could carry the puck and create or a cold blooded sniper, Murphy provides little of either. On occasion though Murphy does put it together and he can show flashes of brilliance that tantalize, but he never seems to keep it together over long stretches. It’s probably safe to say Roenick’s puck hogging tendencies has a lot to do with this, but the fact remains that Murphy just isn’t a perfect match.

Jeremy Roenick: 4 weight, 5/5 skating, 5/5 shot, 5 sth & 5 pass, 4/4 aware, Shoots: R

JR is the biggest, baddist, bully in the ’94 schoolyard. Let’s just go down the list here. Speed to burn? Check. A blistering top tier shot? Check. Gobs of dekeing and passing skills? Check. Dome splitting checking ability? Double check. If you’re looking for a weakness in JR’s game, just give up, it can’t be found. He is the defacto #1 all around player. To quantify his skills a bit more, Roenick is capable of consistently taking a C check from any one in open ice. Not even Theo Fleury can knock him on his keyster over and over again. Blessed with Yzerman’s speed, Sandstrom’s shot, Hawerchuk's creativity and Bradley’s resiliency. Roenick merely just takes the top talent of every player in the league and calls it his own. It really is the perfect package, there is no reason he shouldn’t be taken #1 overall in the GDL draft, he turns any team in any user’s hands into a legitimate weapon that needs to be respected.

Steve Larmer: 7 weight, 4/4 speed, 4/4 shot, 4 sth & 4 pass, 4/6 aware, Shoots: L

Despite his overall rating of 86, Larmer simply isn’t a top forward in the game because he lacks a stand out skill. Larmer still has his uses though, he provides a respectable second option due to his ability to provide a dangerous slap shot from the wing and he is capable of finishing one-timer opportunities created by Roenick. Larmer is a rare forward in that he has 99 defensive awareness every game, because of this he doesn’t set up as well in the offensive zone, but he’s very adept at staying on the defensive side of the puck and being a pain in the ass of the other teams forwards. While not an incredible C Checker, his positioning and skating should give a good head start in his defensive efforts.

Each player on this line is fairly dangerous in their own right; they just don’t complement each other extremely well. But if all else fails, going one on five with Roenick can still be a recipe for success.

JR and another Jr.:


Christian Ruuttu: 8 weight, 4/4 skating, 3/2 shot, 4 sth & pass, 3/ 4 aware, Shoots: L

At first look, Ruuttu seems like a worse fit on the left then Murphy does, but there is something with Ruuttu that leads to more chemistry with Roenick. Despite a pretty iffy shot rating, Ruuttu is a pretty opportunistic scorer who can get on some pretty substantial hot streaks. Also, Ruuttu seems to have a more natural feel to him when it comes to playmaking, and playmaking into a Roenick one-timer is always a very dangerous thing. Lastly, even though a middleweight, Ruuttu is a fairly effective defender, he tends to shade more towards the defensive side of the ice and he can really aid the Hawks in clamping down the opposition in a very effective manner.

Like all lines, JR really shoulders the burden here to provide most of the offense. But the line does seem to provide a little more chemistry and defensive tenacity, which is never a bad thing.

Are you out of your mind?:


Michel Goulet: 8 weight, 4/3 speed, 2/5 shot, 3 sth, 1 pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: L

I tend to think Hawerchuk is a very maligned player, but Goulet really takes it to another level, but this time, it is for good reason. But if there is any one place that Goulet could succeed, this is the spot, so it is still worth mentioning. Ignore the horrid passing and the mediocre skating skills and let’s just focus on that pristine shot accuracy. isn’t it beautiful? Man that Goulet is a nice player.

In all seriousness this can be an intriguing line, Roenick and Larmer now have the ability to unload rockets from the wings all day long if the defense sags to protect the net. If the defense overplays Roenick or Larmer, then Goulet comes gliding in to pound home some slam dunks from the slot, pretty simple. Yeah, the defense gets a little worse since Goulet is manning the middle, but taking Roenick and going on some rampages doesn’t compromise the team quite as much now.

Other Options: As noted before Chicago isn’t blessed with a ton of depth, the guys below should be 10-12th round fodder in the GDL draft, which isn’t saying a whole lot.

Dirk Graham: 8 weight, 4/3 skating, 3/2 shot, 3 sth & pass, 3/5 aware, Shoots: R

A real meat and potatoes guy, Graham won’t be showing up on a highlight reel anytime soon. What we get is another solid, defensively minded guy who might be able to chip in offensively because he isn’t a disaster with the puck.

Brent Sutter: 6 weight, 3/2 skating, 3/3 shot, 4 sth & 3 pass, 4/5 aware, Shoots: L

Another forward with a higher defensive awareness than offensive? It’s no wonder all the Hawks did in the early 90’s was defend when Roenick wasn’t on the ice. Again, Sutter should be filling out that 6th forward slot on your GDL depth chart. He’s got some average shooting and puck ratings to go with some crippling skating, but look at that hockey IQ! OMGA!

Brian Noonan: 7 weight, 3/3 skating, 4/3 shot, 4 sth & 3 pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: R

Might be worth a look at left wing because of his slapper and non fatness. Also, he isn’t Troy Murray, who by the way has a higher D. aware than O. aware, just in case you cared.

JR is really good. In the time it took you to read that sentence, JR just cross checked Pavel Bure into the glass and turned Kirk McLean inside out with some sort of disgusting one-timer, slap deke, floating pass-shot deal. The rest of the forwards are pretty solid for the most part, but they aren’t JR.

Forwards: 9.5 (Roenick’s a 13, the rest are a 6)

Defense: Chris Chelios is the obvious #1 option, after that though the Hawks are presented with the most classic dilemma in ’94. Take the skilled fatso (Steve Smith) or the human fire hydrant that hits like a Mack truck (Cam Russell). Either way, the Hawks are still going to have a very legitimate defense to help slow down forwards so Roenick can clean up the trash.


Chris Chelios: 7 weight, 4/4 skating, 5/1 shot, 5 sth & 4 pass, 4/6 aware, Shoots: R

When guys are as skilled as Chelios, it doesn’t really matter what side of the ice they play on, so I tend to lean towards playing him on his off side so he can unleash his booming slapper with greater ease. Chelios could very well be the #3 defenseman in the entire league settling in nicely behind Don Sweeney and Petr Svoboda. He is a very swift skater who is able to lead a charge from the back end by weaving through the defense and then releasing a soft pass to an open forward or beating the goalie on his own. Sure, we can nitpick and say Chelios isn’t a bone crushing d-man, but he does his job very effectively, and he is a great find on any blue line.

Steve Smith: 11 weight, 4/4 skating, 4/1 shot, 4 sth & 4 pass, 3/ 4 aware, Shoots: L

Smith is quite the unique package; he is quite the behemoth out there and is always a target of an onrushing forward. But his skating ability does allow him some ability to get out of some rough situations, but it’s best not to get too brave with him. Because of his weight it is best to use Smith as a steadying force on the backline by pushing attackers to the outside and using the poke check or the occasional C check along the boards. Despite our best efforts though, Smith isn’t always liable to cooperate. He does his fair share of wandering into the offensive zone when the puck is being rushed against his own net which can make him a frustrating player to put out there. But when the puck is on his stick, Smith is very capable of sparking the attack, which makes him so enticing.

Chelios is the obvious anchor here; he can really provide Chicago with a different angle of attack and still be a very solid defensive performer. If Smith can stay home, then Chelios gets a longer leash which makes the Hawks a very dangerous team.


Cam Russell: 5 weight, 3/3 skating, 2/1 shot, 3 sth & 2 pass, 1/3 aware, Shoots: L

Russell has a very marginal skill set with passable skating, but what makes him a player is his light weight and checking ability. His checking ability in the right matchup has the ability to change the course of a game or a series. Aside from that though, there isn’t a whole lot to say about Russell, he isn’t a weapon on offense and he isn’t going to make too many pretty plays. Ideally, when he gets the puck, he gets rid of it quickly to the nearest player to help limit his turnovers.

This can be a pretty intimidating duo to go up against, as the opponent now has to worry about running into Russell from the front and Roenick in the back. Trading the extra puck mover for an extra checker is one I tend to lean towards with the way Chicago is built.

Other options:

Brian Marchment: 8 weight, 3/3 skating, 2/1 shot, 2 sth & 1 pass, 2/4 aware, Shoots: L

If Marchment is anything more than the 4th defender on a GDL team, then something is wrong. All Marchment is a middleweight with average skating and below average puck skills, use with caution.

Defense: 8/10

Goalie Zone: Just like at forward and defense, the Hawks have a top option available to them in net with Ed Belfour. While more and more users are leaning towards taking Patrick Roy first in the GDL draft, Belfour is still a very solid goalie who can steal games.

Ed Belfour: 6 Weight, 6/4 skating, 6/6 aware, 5 puck control, 6/6/5/5 save, Catches: L

Belfour is a pretty sweet blend of mobility and sturdiness in net due to his ability to withstand the ram tactic. His stick side has the perfect ratings and his glove isn’t too shabby either. His overall is slightly inflated though due to perfect awareness ratings.

Goalie: 9/5/10

Bottom Line: JR makes Chicago dangerous in anyone’s hands; because of this whoever has Chicago in classic is almost always a legitimate contender because if JR goes off and Belfour plays up to his ability, then Chicago is a tough out. But, if JR is contained, Chicago could get into some battles that it doesn’t have the depth to win.

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It has been said that playing as Chicago is like logging in as invincible.

That was a classic malapropism eggcorn

(just posting here so this thread shows up in updates later tonight so I'll remember to add some weight bug fix analysis!)

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Great read as always,

I always go for Murphy on the left over Ruutu. He seems to handle a lot better and have a little more ability to get behind the defence to lay a pass back for the one-timer. Roughly the same sort of pace as Ruutu but just seems like a more agile player to me.

If you're playing with line changes Chicago aren't quite the same force as playing online without. If you're giving Roenick a rest it's hard to get regular goals from anyone else. In the Classic league without line changes though it is a pretty formidable line isn't it?!

I find though that when you play against a skilled player they'll focus their defence on Roenick and crowd him out, based on the idea that the other guys aren't going to cause half the problems an open Roenick will, so they're certainly not invincible..............just a bloody tough game!

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For the guys that can neutralize Roenick playing against Chicago isn't as bad as it sounds. Like angryjay says, playing Detroit (Yzerman, Ciccarelli, Federov) and Vancouver (Bure, Ronning, Courtnall) is probably tougher than Chicago.

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you pretty much summed it up, they have no depth. it's incredible a team with like a 78 rating or whatever has it all in one line.

No words scare me more than when I'm playing with Chicago:


When that happens, it's rare, but when it does, you get this sick feeling in your stomach and say to yourself, "oh shite," and you pray Ruuty tooty fresh and fruity and Murphy can pull the slack.

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But even with that, if you got a good handle with Larmer, you can get some production out of him because of his good shot ratings. At times, though, you gotta know what you're going to work with in case JR goes down. Sutter is actually pretty decent, but what achors him down is his lack of speed. Otherwise, he's got some offense and can hit some people not named Gilmour, Gretzky, Fluery and Roenick himself.

I sometimes get the feeling Russell gets a bit lost at times on the defensive zone of the ice, particularly when Chicago is a visiting team, so I take my chances by having Smith in there. Good thing the AI helps him hit some people.

Belfour and Roy are pretty much a joy to use. For me, there will always be a debate on which one is truly No.1.

I hope Smoz remembers us and plugs in his analysis.

Edited by RedWingDevil
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good writeup, def not much depth but they got pretty much the best top end talent at almost all 3 positions.

And iceguy, I think Belfour's better than Roy just a bit. There are certain shots Roy seems more susceptible to.

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CB Notes


Joe Murphy: Still a bit of a miscast as one of Roenick's wingers, Murphy doesn't lose much of his effectiveness but probably takes a very slight tumble down the depth chart as Christian Ruuttu's versatility has increased. It may be better putting Murphy at RW and Larmer at LW since Murphy has enough shot power to beat a goalie and allowing him to be on his off wing opens up the float shot to get some cheap rebound goals. Larmer is the more effective player overall and he should see as much ice as possible.

Jeremy Roenick: CB developments have started to whittle away at Roenick's undisputed #1 status but he still remains a big part of the conversation. With 5 ratings across the board in skating and puck skills, Roenick is well equipped to offset his weight bug status and take the game to his opponents with his usual relentlessness. Defensively, JR remains a force as his crushing body checks will still register against most opponents which should lend a big hand in him getting some easy goals.

Steve Larmer: An utmost professional and one of the most consistent players in the game should see a tiny bit of an advantage shift his way as his skating and defensive positioning should aid him in the CB game a bit more than other 7 weight forwards. Still a vital piece to the Chicago attack, if he can get rolling in tandem with Roenick then the Hawks can realize a more balanced attack which will help at high level play.

New Line Combo:


Christian Ruuttu: While the difference between Ruuttu and Murphy may not be large, the fact that Ruuttu can now CB check 6 weight players is a bit of a boon since there tend to be a lot of 6 weight players who get plenty of ice time. Chicago seems to be loaded with 7 weight players and having a little extra checking versatility should help their defensive chemistry. Kick in the fact that Ruuttu is able to stick handle his way through some issues in order to set up Roenick for a one timer should also help the offense vary their attack enough to keep things unpredictable.

Michel Goulet: Still a center only option due to his pitiful passing rating and speed, Goulet doesn't get enough of a boost to warrant serious ice time. It'd be wise to let his shot accuracy sit on the bench until Roenick AND Larmer get hurt because they are superior center options with enough competent wings left over to support them.

Dirk Graham: As an out and out defensive specialist, Graham isn't a terrible fit on the wing but his 8 weight doesn't give him enough CB power to overcome the guys ahead of him. A nice player to have around and should be kept in mind for the later rounds in the GDL.

Brent Sutter: Despite the unique rating set, Sutter is really hampered by his 2 speed and his non elite checking ability.

Brian Noonan: There are simply too many other good options on the LW for Noonan to get any sort of ice time as he doesn't have the skating required to open up his own lanes to unleash his slapper. Could be worth a look on the right if looking for a natural handed winger but I'd suggest sending Graham over the boards first due to his extra CB ability.

Jocelyn Lemieux: 9 weight, 3/4 skating, 4/2 shot, 2 sth, 1 pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: L

Chicago is absolutely bereft of major CB presence up front hence the article here about Lemieux. Lemieux seems to be an off brand version of Esa Tikkanen and will likely be a very frustrating guy to use on offense with shot power being his only passable skill. Chicago tends to have an issue playing physical against teams loaded with 6-7 weight players but its probably best to keep it that way since Lemieux would be too easy of a target to pick off. The reward is simply not worth the risk.


Chris Chelios: Pavel Bure watch out as it seems Chelios has a bit of payback in mind after all these years. 4/4 skating defenders are always a great thing to have and Chelios will use that as much as he can to push the CB checking into his advantage. Some bigger forwards may try to take some liberties with Chelios but his elusiveness and passing ability should be able to keep the pressure off of him. Chelios remains a premier defender and Chicago's AI tendencies could vault him into the discussion for #1 D-man in the game.

Steve Smith: One of the biggest benefactors in the entire game from CB development is indeed Steve Smith. Few guys in his weight class have the ability to skate and move the puck with the level of proficiency that Smith does. Goal scoring slugs such as Hull, Turgeon, and Sandstrom must now keep their head up in the slot which wont be an easy task to do with Roenick trying to pressure with his back check. Smith's awareness ratings can make him do some weird stuff positioning wise but the Chicago AI presets will help limit that and keep him in more optimal positions. These positive developments make Smith a nearly must start player.

Cam Russell: If Smith looks to be having a terrible game don't be afraid to resort to Russell if needed as his weight bug checking game is still applicable in a lot of match ups. Chicago has enough skill to carry Russell to the finish line but an opponent could make it a point to attack him when he has the puck which could lead to a lot of ugly turnovers and easy goals against.

Brian Marchment: Chicago's D depth falls off a cliff in a jiffy and Marchment is a clear example of that. Mercifully he is mobile enough to avoid being a complete disaster when he gets on the ice.

Bottom Line

Don't look now but Chicago has just become demonstrably better as a team especially on defense. With Smith seeing his game upgraded vastly the Blackhawks may now very well have the #1 defensive duo in the game paired along with the best goalie and a fantastic weight bug checking option in Roenick. Good luck lighting the lamp against these guys as this defense should prove to be imposing.

Offensively the Hawks don't take much of a hit as Roenick is still an animal and his supporting cast remains largely intact. They can still be reduced to a bit of a one trick pony but that shouldn't bother Chicago too much as they are perfectly constructed for low scoring affairs.
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