Malcolm Subban, Brendan Perlini made strange kinds of Blackhawks history this season
If the 2019-20 NHL regular season never resumes, the Hawks will make some peculiar records, including the shortest career in franchise history.
Malcolm Subban’s relief appearance March 3 against the Ducks was as forgettable as they come.
With Corey Crawford being evaluated for a concussion shortly after a collision with Ryan Getzlaf’s knee, Subban made his Blackhawks debut by manning the crease for a mere 1 minute, 10 seconds until Crawford returned.
Subban received a moment to warm up — the Hawks were leading 5-1 in the third period, after all — and didn’t face a shot on goal, although the Ducks did produce a decent chance that went wide.
But that one brief relief appearance could end up making franchise history — as the shortest Hawks career ever.
That stat would only hold up if the 2019-20 regular season never resumes, and if Subban doesn’t re-sign this summer. Those are two uncertainties, but they’re both likely at this point. The coronavirus situation is obvious to all, and Subban’s lack of use after his throw-in inclusion in the Robin Lehner trade indicated he probably wasn’t part of the Hawks’ long-term plans.
Subban’s one-minute tenure would break the strange record held by fellow goalie Christian Soucy, who made one career NHL appearance — playing three minutes in a 6-3 loss to the Capitals — for the Hawks in 1993-94.
But Soucy also played three seasons in the Hawks’ minor-league system, as did the vast majority of other entries in the one-career-Hawks-appearance database. It’s not too rare for a career minor-leaguer to come up for one game.
What makes Subban’s situation unique is that he’s an established NHL goalie, having played 63 career games for the Golden Knights (and two for the Bruins) before coming to Chicago.
Only two others, at least in recent -decades, have played one career game in the Hawks’ organization: Radek Smolenak — who was claimed off waivers from the Lightning, played 4:41 in an October 2009 loss to the Red Wings, then was waived by the Hawks and re-claimed by the Lightning — and 2018 emergency backup legend Scott Foster.
Subban also might become only the third player in Hawks history to play one game for the Hawks but 20 or more games for another NHL team in the same season.
Coincidentally, the second to do so happened earlier this season.
Brendan Perlini played 7:49 for the Hawks in their Oct. 12 loss to the Jets. Besides being a healthy scratch for nine other games, that was all he did before his Oct. 28 trade to the Red Wings (prompted by discontent about playing time).
In Detroit, however, Perlini played 39 games before the season postponement, meaning he’ll finish 2019-20 with 40 total appearances but only one with the Hawks.
The only other player to do that is Tony Tanti, the Hawks’ 1981 first-round pick who entered the lineup once in 1982-83 before being dealt to the Canucks, for whom he also played 39 games that season.
But Tanti had 16 points in his 39 games, whereas Perlini had only four. Tanti also scored 39 or more goals in each of the next five seasons; Perlini, on the other hand, could struggle to stay in the league five years from now. Technically, however, their odd seasons are one and the same.
Fortunately for Subban and Perlini, hockey’s record books and online archives are rarely used to identify the least remarkable careers. So their uniquely forgettable seasons likely will remain exactly that.
But unfortunately for Subban and Perlini, this quarantined world requires digging for the smallest pieces of sports intrigue. So for now, their incredibly short tenures are worth a glance.