Mar 5, 2021

We'll never see another Blackhawk like Brent Seabrook

We'll never see another Blackhawk like Brent Seabrook

He was the foundation of the foundation, the captain who didn't wear a 'C' and the longest thread from nights of 5,000 fans at the United Center to a doubling of the Stanley Cup banners in the rafters overhead.

And now Brent Seabrook belongs to the Blackhawks history books, the latest member of the dynasty's core to call it a career.

Hearing the 35-year-old defenseman announce his retirement Friday morning didn't come as the biggest surprise, but it did come as a relief.

Anyone who grimaced their way through the list of Seabrook's ongoing physical ailments — countless concussions, nagging arthritis, a hip that had been completely abandoned by its cartilage — probably will agree.

Getting any athlete to say goodbye to the familiar surroundings of the dressing room and clubhouse is a tough enough choice for them.

But when you have four years remaining on an eight-year contract worth $55 million that you still want to prove you were worth?

Well, it's going to take a lot to call it a day.

It finally became enough for Seabrook as the injuries took their toll.

"I don't know if it was a decision I made, or my body made for me," Seabrook admitted during a Friday morning Zoom with beat reporters. "I told my body to screw off for 15 years and it finally turned around and said: 'I'm not going to do it any more.'"

So, off Seabrook rides into retirement and toward a beautiful, young family that we saw him build in the public eye during his time in Chicago.

Better health will hopefully follow, but Seabrook still has his share of hurdles in front of him. All of the punishment he took and delivered over his career probably means we'll see the scars when he hobbles back for regular victory laps at the United Center.

What a career we were able to witness. We could go the rest of our lives as Hawks fans and still see forwards as brilliant as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. If we're lucky, we'll get another defenseman with as high a motor, skills and hockey IQ as Duncan Keith.

But there might never be another Seabrook, a big-bodied and wide-assed battle tank with enough offensive skill to win playoff series with blasts from the blue lines. D-men of his type became a dying breed during his tenure — thanks in part to the speed and success of those Hawks teams — yet Seabrook was never out of place until age and injuries caught up to him.

If we somehow do get another one like Seabrook, he stands no chance of matching the memories that No. 7 gave us. His overtime winner against Detroit in Game 7 of the 2013 Western Conference semis is arguably the most important goal in Hawks history — a goal that revived the Hawks for two additional Cups and plunged the silver bullet into a rival that had haunted them for the previous two decades.

His OT goal in Game 4 against Boston a few weeks later in the Stanley Cup was just as big, tying the series against an equally-matched Bruins squad and setting the stage for the 17 seconds of Game 6.

The 15 seasons bookending that summer were filled with 103 goals, 361 assists and 1,114 games played — many of them through pain that would've sidelined many others. Most of them were played alongside Keith as the duo formed a shutdown pairing that allowed the rest of the team to do its thing.

Just as memorably, Seabrook took the 'A' on his sweater as seriously as a ' C.'  The clip of him calming an off-the-rails Toews during the Detroit series will play in the pregame package for every Hawks game as long as they hold them.

Admittedly, the past few years were a little awkward, though not through any fault of Seabrook or the fans. Stan Bowman presented Seabrook an expensive and ill-advised extension that none of us would've turned down, and it hampered the Hawks' ability to stay competitive.

Part of today's subtext is that Seabrook's decision to call it a career will allow the Hawks to place him on long-term injured reserve and recover the rest of the money. Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith are taking the same route, which means the Hawks now have $23 million of newfound cap space to work with as they prepare to identify the core for their next era.

But all of that is talk for another day. No matter what they do, the Hawks will be hard-pressed to find a player who brought as much to the table as Brent Seabrook.

"I wouldn't change anything for anything," said Seabrook. "I gave it all I had."

Kevin Kaduk writes Midway Minute, a daily Chicago newsletter covering the most important topics in the city. To sign up for free, enter your email below.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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