Chris Chelios wearing an Captain's Patch

Revisiting a major trade that shaped the Blackhawks organization

Published January 31, 2024 at 11:27 PM
In 1990, the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens made a trade that changed the shape of both organizations. The trade involved defenseman Chris Chelios being traded for Chicago Blackhawks center Denis Savard. While the Blackhawks received Chelios and a 2nd round pick, many Blackhawks fans mourned the move as Chelios was a beloved player in the city. Similarly, Denis Savard was also highly regarded by Blackhawks fans and both teams gave up significant players.

At the time of the trade, experts felt that Savard was damaged and not worth the buy-in as he was out for a significant amount of time with an injury. They believed that trading him for a player like Chelios was not a good deal for Montreal.


Savard played as no more than a 2nd or 3rd line center with the Canadiens. The trade has always been seen as questionable, especially considering how many bad trades Molson ownership made from 1978-2001, as they traded an up-and-coming asset like Chelios for an older Savard.

This is the same ownership group who traded Patrick Roy away for almost nothing.

Chris Chelios arrived in Chicago and became one of the league's best defensemen. He loved the trade as he would suit up for his hometown team after an injury-ridden 1989-1990 season.

Chelios had previously spent six seasons in Montreal and went to two Stanley Cup finals with the team, winning one in 1985-1986. He would later earn a Norris Trophy in 1989.

According to Team President Ronald Corey, Chelios didn't exhibit the conduct that was becoming of a Montreal Canadiens defenseman and wanted him gone. Chelios would be traded quickly to the Blackhawks after fighting with two Madison, Wisconsin policemen after they attempted to detain him for public urination.

Chelios would become the complete defenseman the team needed, and he would win two Norris Trophies in 1992-1993 and 1995-1996, earning him accolades as one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

Savard was dealt by then Head-Coach GM, who didn't have a good relationship with the Blackhawks at the time.

He eventually won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens but was out at the time against the Los Angeles Kings.

Savard was a flashy, 100-point scorer, and the move Keenan made allowed them to fix a mistake by bringing home the local star. Savard would eventually end his career with the Blackhawks.

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January 31   |   111 answers
Revisiting a major trade that shaped the Blackhawks organization

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