Whatcha gonna do, brother, when TeuvoMania runs wild on you? Hell, this lede is awful. I just wanted to use that sentence at some point. Anyway, as we prepare for Finnish Jesus to lead the Blackhawks to a third title in 5 years we need to pour one out for another European March call-up.
On this date in 2003 the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves 15 points out of a playoff spot with only 6 games left. They needed a HUGE boost to get into the playoffs as an 8th seed. It would have taken mass contraction, really, for the Hawks to get into the postseason. Regardless, general manager Mike Smith took it upon himself to upgrade the Blackhawks’ anemic offense after the trade deadline by bringing up KHL leading scorer and Russian import Alexander Radulov…
…’s brother, Igor.
Igor Radulov was drafted by Smith in the 3rd round of the 2000 NHL Draft. To be fair to Smith, the 2000 draft was pretty much crap. With that said, it was probably one of his worst drafts ever – not one player taken played a full NHL season. Yeesh.
Anyway, with the Hawks seeking a mathematically impossible playoff position, Smith brought up his leading scorer in the AHL to help head coach Brian Sutter’s team score goals. As we mentioned before, Radulov dressed for Chicago on this day in 2003.
I still have a ticket stub from this game and I remember it like it was a game that I went to and did not enjoy because it was bad. A cloudy, overcast day, I arrived at the United Center to see the Blackhawks take on the Mike Milbury-helmed New York Islanders. I was thrilled with the opportunity to see Chicago superstars Mike Eastwood, Sami Helenius, and Theo Fleury take on budding talents from Long Island like Mattias Weinhandl, Shawn Bates, and Aaron Asham.
Before the first commercial break the Blackhawks were down 3-0 after goals from Mark Parrish, Alexei Yashin, and some guy named Justin Papineau. Steve Passmore got yanked in favor of Craig Andersson (he had 2 s’s in his name at the time) at the conclusion of the first period after giving up 4 goals. Midway through the second period Chicago found themselves down five-rip. And then. IT WAS RADULOV TIME.
Skating on the left side with future hall of famers Tyler Arnason and Steve Sullivan, Igor Radulov said, “Enough of this shit. I’m taking over.” He scored his first career goal on the powerplay at the 7:38 mark. The United Center’s 11,903 fans (60% capacity) went nuts, probably. Momentum had swung in favor of the guys in white. It was on.
Radulov struck again just 13 seconds later to cut the Islanders’ lead to three and it appeared that Chicago had found its savior.
Radulov had probably spent years of his young life dreaming of escaping the cold, grey skies of Russia and coming to a great city like Chicago to save their hockey franchise and lead them to a Stanley Cup victory and reap all of the rewards and possibly get a boat to drive around Lake Michigan real fast and have parties on and maybe a sandwich named after him or something. And now, he was singlehandedly turning the tide of just his second career National Hockey League game. The second period finished 5-2 and it looked like Sutter’s boys were awake and ready.
The third period started off with a bang. The Islanders scored three goals in the first three minutes. IGORMANIA had subsided and New York ended up beating Chicago 9-2. Arron Asham had a 5 point night. Seriously. That guy had 5 points in one game.
Radulov would score 3 more goals in his next 5 games with the Blackhawks, giving Chicago fans hope that the Russian winger could at least be an offensive threat for years to come. Unfortunately, he ended up sucking the following year and wound up back in the KHL a short time later.
So, while you get ready for TevuoMania tonight, remember this: the organization you cheer for used to be run by complete idiots and the greatest hope that the Blackhawks had at one time was a guy who was drafted two spots ahead of Mike Rupp. Appreciate the Bowman.
In Teuvo’s name, Amen.
(This entire post was written after minor mouth surgery and under the influence of pain relievers.)