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October 28, 2011 :: 3:09pm ET
Flashback Fridays:
The trade that kept Belfour in Chicago

As future trade possibilities are some of the most exciting discussion for fans of any sport, hockey fans are no different. Moving forward, each Friday TFP is going to take a look back at some trades in hockey history. Which players moved, which team won the deal, and which organization was saddled with second-guessing and "what if" questions for years after.

CHICAGO, IL -- In this first installment of our NHL trade history series, we'll look back at one of the greatest heists in the history of any professional sport.

The 1991-92 season was unique in Chicago. The Blackhawks were carried in net by Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour, who had an outstanding season. He won 21 times in 52 appearances and his 2.70 goals-against-average ranked second in the NHL. Belfour also tied for the league-lead with five shutouts.

But where Belfour was a stand-alone league leader was in insecurity.

That was understandable, though. Belfour wasn't drafted, had to fight his way up the depth chart in college and into the NHL without any help from anyone. Now that he was one of the elite goalies in the NHL, there was no way he was going to share that spotlight.

That year, however, a 27-year-old former 10th round draft pick from Czechoslovakia showed up and earned first team All-Rookie honors despite only playing in 20 games. The rookie had a lower goals-against-average (2.60) than Belfour, and an almost identical save percentage.

After Chicago was swept out of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals by Pittsburgh, Belfour let it be known that he would not look over his shoulder. He pressed, and the organization relented.

On August 7, 1992, the Blackhawks traded that backup goalie to the Buffalo Sabres for Stephane Beauregard and Buffalo's fourth choice in the 1993 draft. Beauregard would never wear a Chicago sweater; the Hawks traded him to Winnipeg for Christian Ruuttu three days later.

Ruuttu gave Chicago one good season, when he scored 17 goals in 1992-93, and missed time in 1993-94 before being dealt to Vancouver during the 1994-95 campaign. He would total 28 goals, add 62 assists and serve 208 penalty minutes in 158 games as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks used the fourth round pick they received in the deal, the 90th overall selection in 1993, on a power forward named Eric Daze. Daze made it to the NHL at the end of the 1994-95 season, and for good the following fall. He was a member of the All-Rookie First Team in 1995-96 after scoring 30 goals as a rookie.

At times, Daze showed the ability to be an elite scorer; he scored over 30 goals four times between 1995-2002, peaking with 28 and 70 points during the 2001-02 season. He was named the All-Star Game MVP that season, but wouldn't play a full season again.

He posted 44 points in an injury-shortened 2002-03 season, but would only play in 20 NHL games after that. A bad back ultimately ended Daze's career prematurely. He played 601 games in Chicago, scoring 226 goals and adding 172 assists. Daze's 398 points still rank 23rd in Chicago franchise history, ahead of names like Al Secord, Ed Litzenberger and Dirk Graham.

The back-up goalie that threatened Belfour's job security?

After leaving Chicago, he would win six Vezina Trophies, two Ted Lindsay Awards, two Hart Memorial Trophies and three Jennings Trophies. He also won the Lester Pearson Memorial Trophy twice, was a six-time All-Star, two-time Stanley Cup champion and was the gold medal-winning goalie in 1998. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer -- ironically, just as Belfour was in 2011.

The Chicago Blackhawks traded Dominik Hasek after seeing him play 25 regular season games. They ultimately received Christian Ruuttu and Eric Daze as the bounty for the best netminder of his generation.

Now that Ryan Miller is within 10 wins of moving past Hasek as Buffalo's all-time career leader, it's amazing how they fleeced Chicago of a player that good for so little in return.

Tam Bamford is a Columnist for TheFourthPeriod.com and the Chicago Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine.


 

 

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