With all of the focus on the young players on the blue line in Chicago these days, I thought it might be nice to mark an anniversary.
On Oct. 5, 2005, Blackhawks head coach Trent Yawney put a 20-year-old on the ice with a 22-year-old. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Brent Seabrook, the 20-year-old, paired with Duncan Keith. The two became the foundation for the dynasty era; they were together before Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane was drafted, before Niklas Hjalmarsson arrived, and before they acquired players like Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
In his NHL debut, Seabrook skated 17:07 and had his first assist. Keith skated 24:18 that night in his NHL debut as the Blackhawks lost 5-3 on home ice to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
In his rookie season, Seabrook appeared in 69 games (nice) and scored five goals with 27 assists. That season Keith scored nine goals with 12 assists in 81 games. Keith was minus-12 and Seabrook was plus-five on a team that finished 26-43-13 with two skaters — Kyle Calder and Mark Bell — being the only skaters to score 20 goals.
The Blackhawks’ 65 points were good/bad enough to finish third from the bottom in the NHL, giving them the third pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. That pick became Toews (thanks, St. Louis and Pittsburgh for passing).
On Dec. 11, 2018, the two became the first pair of defensemen in NHL history to appear in 1,000 games together.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Today, almost four years later, only eight players in the almost 100 year history of the Chicago Blackhawks have appeared in 1,000 games in the Indian head — and four of them have come from the dynasty generation (Toews and Kane are the other two).
They’re both retired now. Seabrook never wore another sweater in his career, though his contract was traded. Keith finished his career with one season in Edmonton. Both became legends in Chicago and, I will humbly submit, built Hall of Fame resumes along the way. Olympic gold medals, three Stanley Cup championships and the number of games played warrant induction. And I’m sure there will be talk in the coming months about their numbers joining Hossa’s in the rafters at the United Center.
But it was on this date 17 years ago that the two took the ice together for the first time.