It’s the 28th of the month, which means it’s time to revisit the should-be Hall of Fame career of Steve Larmer. With the emphasis on young players and looking to the future, today felt like a good day to look back at Larmer’s historic rookie campaign.
Larmer appeared in four games in 1980-81 and three more the following season. It wasn’t until Orval Tessier was elevated to the Blackhawks’ head coach in 1982 that Larmer got a legit crack at the NHL lineup on a regular basis. And he made his opportunity pay big time.
Larmer started the 1982-83 season with a bang. The Blackhawks hosted the Maple Leafs on Oct. 6 and Larmer scored once and added two assists for a three-point season opener. He came back with a two-goal performance one week later against St. Louis and finished the month of October with nine points in 12 games.
His first hat trick came on Nov. 14 against the Minnesota North Stars. For those just joining us, the North Stars were one of the Blackhawks’ biggest rivals back then (before they were relocated to Dallas for some reason and Minnesota got the new Wild). Larmer scored seven goals with eight assists in 12 games in November and was now averaging more than a point-per-game over his first two months.
Between December 15-19, Larmer had three multi-point games in four days. He picked up another hat trick in Toronto in the middle of that run. He had a four-point game in Edmonton later in the month and sprinted to a huge month, producing nine goals and ten assists in 14 games in December. Larmer had at least one point in 11 of the 14 games in the month.
His production slowed down — specifically in the assist category — in January but he still put together three multi-point games. He had eight goals and four assists to start the new calendar year.
Larmer flipped that script in February, scoring just five goals but adding nine assists in 11 games. By the end of the second month of 1983, Larmer had 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points in 64 games.
In the season’s final 16 games in March and early April, Larmer had five multi-point games in 16 appearances. He scored ten more goals and added ten assists in 16 games, finishing the season with 90 points and 43 goals. Larmer won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year for his dominant effort.
To put that in perspective, only one other rookie in the history of the Blackhawks has scored more than 30 goals in their entire rookie season (Darryl Sutter scored 40 in 1980-81). Artemi Panarin, Dominik Kubalik and Eric Daze scored 30 in their respective rookie seasons.
Since the 1982-83 season, only six skaters have had more than the 90 points Larmer produced as a rookie:
- Teemu Selanne — 132
- Joe Juneau — 121
- Alex Ovechkin — 106
- Sidney Crosby — 102
- Mario Lemieux — 100
- Joe Nieuwendyk — 98
From that list, Selanne, Super Mario and Nieuwendyk are in the Hall of Fame. Crosby and Ovechkin eventually will be. Only Juneau isn’t; he was the runner-up for the Calder because he happened to blow up the same season as Selanne and had more than 64 points in a season only one more time in his career.
Among the names that came up short of 90 points just behind Larmer on the list: Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman, Sergei Makarov, Evgeni Malkin (future HOF), Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille. The next highest from a Blackhawks’ rookie was Jeremy Roenick’s 84.
And among all rookies from 1982-83 to the present, Larmer’s +44 is the best in the NHL to date.