The following list was sparked by a conversation from the other night between my friend Elliott and I. Somehow, Devin Hester was brought up, and I went on to say that his kickoff return in Super Bowl 41 is one of the greatest moments in Chicago sports history. Elliott then said, “Are we doing this? Are we going to rank these moments now?” So we sat down, rattled off some moments, and made our own top tens. The following is the list I composed of the greatest individual sports moments in Chicago history since the year 1980. With that being said, let’s begin the list! Let’s start at number 10.
10) Brent Seabrook’s overtime goal vs. Detroit, game 7 of the 2013 Western Conference semi-finals- We start with a more recent moment, as this was the goal that capped off the 3-1 series comeback against the rival Red Wings in 2013. What adds to the moment, too, was what happened before this goal. With about two minutes left in regulation, Nickolas Hjalmarsson had a goal disallowed from a questionable penalty call from behind the play. This all set up Seabrook to be the hero, as he wristed one past goaltender Jimmy Howard in overtime to send the Blackhawks to the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Kings. P.S. Don’t be surprised if there’s more from this postseason run coming up.
9) Geoff Blum’s go ahead home run in the 14th inning in game 3 of the 2005 World Series- 2005 was a magical season for the White Sox, as it saw them capture their first World Series since 1917. There were so many surprising heroes during their run, with one of them being Geoff Blum. In a 5-5 game in the top of the 14th inning, Blum stepped up for his first at bat of the World Series. Blum made the best of it, slamming an Ezequiel Astacio (who?) pitch into the left field bleachers, giving the White Sox the lead and ultimately the victory. It was the longest World Series game ever and saw Mark Buehrle, who started game 2 just two days earlier, get the save in relief. The White Sox then won game 4 the next night to clinch the World Series.
8) William “The Fridge” Perry’s touchdown run in Super Bowl XX- The only reason why this moment isn’t higher is because when “the fridge” scored, it was a 37-3 lead for the Bears. Perry’s run, though, is one of the most iconic moments in Super Bowl history. The Bears, in firm control of the game, stood at the one yard line, poised to score yet another touchdown on the Patriots. Legendary head coach Mike Ditka sends out Perry to run it in from the goal line, and that’s exactly what he does. The run isn’t what’s memorable, though. The spike of the ball afterwards is what makes the moment so special to Bears fans. The Bears went on to win 46-10, winning their first and only Super Bowl.
7) Marian Hossa’s game winning goal vs. Nashville in game 5 of the 2010 Western Conference quarterfinals- If you look to any one moment that seemed to spark the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup run, this would be the moment. With less then a minute to go, Hossa takes a five minute major boarding penalty, making the odds seem that much harder for the Hawks to overcome the 4-3 deficit in the game. However, the Blackhawks somehow tied the game on a goal from Patrick Kane with 13 seconds left to send it to overtime. This is where the real magic happened, however, as a Brent Sopel shot went off the pads of Pekka Rinne and right to Hossa, who had just come out of the penalty box. Hossa put in the rebound to put the Hawks up 3-2 in the series, and they never looked back.
6) Scott Podsednik’s walk off home run in game 2 of the 2005 World Series- Just like Geoff Blum, Podsednik was an unlikely hero for the White Sox during their run to the 2005 World Series. In one of the more improbable moments of the entire season, Podsednik stepped up to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth of a 6-6 game. “Scotty Pods”, as he was called, cranked a 2-1 pitch off Brad Lidge into the right-center seats, giving the Sox the 7-6 victory as well as a 2-0 series lead. My number nine moment, Geoff Blum, happened two days later, and the rest, as they say, is history.
5) Devin Hester returns the opening kick of Super Bowl 41 vs. the Colts- Oh what a season it was for Devin Hester in 2006. Hester broke on to the scene his rookie year, returning six kicks back in the regular season. He had some great returns that season, like his 108 yard missed field goal return against the Giants and his punt return against Arizona to win that wild Monday Night Football game, but the one that is the most memorable is the Super Bowl return against the Colts. Indianapolis decided to kick the ball to Hester, which proved to be fatal. Hester took the ball at the eight yard line, cut right, and blew by all the Colts’ defenders for the 92 yard kickoff return, sending Bears fans all across the country bonkers. It was the first, and currently only, kickoff return to start a Super Bowl, and it was Hester’s seventh of the season. Within 14 seconds, the Bears had a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Colts would win the game 29-17, but Chicago fans will always have the memory of Hester returning one in the rain of Miami.
4) Blackhawks score 2 goals in 17 seconds in game 6 to win the 2013 Stanley Cup- As promised, the 2013 Stanley Cup run makes it back on to the list, as this might be the craziest moment on the list. Trailing 2-1 in game six to the Boston Bruins, it was all but certain that these two teams would be flying back to Chicago to play a game seven for the Stanley Cup. That would not be the case, though, as the Blackhawks pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Cup history. With 1:30 left, Corey Crawford was pulled, bringing on another attacker. After Patrick Kane almost scores on a shot, the Hawks and Bruins battle for the puck in the corner before Jonathan Toews wins it, throws a beautiful pass over to Bryan Bickell, who then buries it past Tuukka Rask to tie the game at two. Instead of settling for overtime, though, the Hawks came right back. After Michael Frolik throws one to the net, the puck bounces back up to the blue line, where Johnny Oduya fires a shot that gets directed off the left post. However, Dave Bolland is right there to put it in, giving the Hawks a 3-2 lead. The Blackhawks had gone from trailing 2-1 to leading 3-2 in just 17 seconds, stunning the Boston crowd. The Hawks were then able to hold off the Bruins in the final minute, clinching their second Stanley Cup in four years. This is an ultimate “where were you when…” moment in Chicago history (I was watching with my mom and dad in my living room), as the craziness of the finish will not only be remembered in Chicago, but for many other non-Chicago hockey fans as well.
3) Michael Jordan’s game winner over Bryon Russell in game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals- In a career filled with iconic moments, this one ranks very high on the list for Michael Jordan. In what ultimately would be his final game in a Bulls uniform, The Bulls took a 3-2 series lead into Utah to face a Jazz team lead by the great John Stockton and Karl Malone. With the Bulls down 86-85, Jordan stole the ball from Stockton and came down the court. After he let time run out a little, Jordan drove right, stopped, stepped back and drained a 20 footer over Bryon Russell to give the Bulls the lead with 5.2 seconds left. A late Stockton three-point attempt rattled out, and the Bulls won their sixth title in eight years. Jordan scored 45 points in the game, which is impressive in itself. The shot, though, is iconic because of the moment. Plus, the crossover from Jordan makes Russell fall, leaving Jordan wide open to sink the game winning, series winning, and title winning shot. This cemented Jordan’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time, as it gave him his sixth title and sixth Finals MVP.
2) Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo in game 5 of the first round in the 1989 NBA playoffs, “The Shot”- When the play has it’s own name, you know it’s memorable. “The Shot.” There really isn’t much else to say really. Trailing 100-99 with less then three seconds left, Jordan took the inbounds pass, drove left, and raised up for the jumper from the foul line. The shot over Craig Ehlo goes in, and the Bulls win 101-100. The shot is great, but the celebration afterwards is what immortalizes this play. The images of Jordan leaping in the air, fist pumping as his teammates run to him to celebrate. Jordan scored 44 points that game and that shot won the series for the Bulls. The Bulls would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals that year before losing to the Detroit Pistons in six games. “The Shot,” though, will always be remembered as one of the defining moments of Jordan’s career.
1) Patrick Kane’s game winning goal in overtime of game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals- Now before major debates spark over this, let me explain why this is number one on my list. First off, the magnitude of the goal. This was the first time in 49 years that the Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup, which I think plays a factor in the greatness of the moment. Second, it’s a great moment because only one person saw the puck go in: Patrick Kane. The curiosity of the moment and not being sure what was going on adds to the greatness of what happened. All the sudden, Kane throws the puck toward the net, it seems to disappear, and nobody knows what’s going on. Even Doc Emrick calling the game on NBC didn’t know what was going on. Kane is throwing his gloves, stick, etc. in every direction, and until you see the replay, you have no idea that it goes in. The intrigue, the confusion, and then the ultimate jubilation of realizing that the Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup makes the moment so special in my eyes. It beats out Jordan’s shot over Russell to me because this was the first Cup in nearly 50 years, where Jordan’s shot completed his second three-peat. Also, it beats “The Shot” because Kane’s goal won the Cup, where Jordan over Ehlo only was the first round. Finally, it beats the 2013 Hawks moment because this was the first Cup, which is always very special.
So what do you think? Did one of your favorite moments not make the list? Comment which ones should be changed, which ones should be added, dropped, etc. Hope you enjoyed my list. Till next time, everyone! This is Game of Sports.
Scott Podsednik celebrates his game 2 walk off home run against the Astros.