Mar 16, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Jimmy Hayes (39) warms up before the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Absolutely! Well, an advantage in the short-term at least.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ Minor-League affiliate at the AHL level, the Rockford IceHogs failed to qualify for the AHL post-season, leaving their entire roster available for emergency call-ups(if necessary) at the Hawk’s disposal. While Hawks fans would be wise to hope that this luxury never becomes a necessity, it is still a nice luxury to have.
The downside to this is the golden opportunity that is missed for the development of prospects on Rockford’s roster, had they qualified for the AHL playoffs. There may be no better experience builder, or developmental tool than a deep playoff run, at any level of hockey. The experience of fighting through the wars of any post-season tournament in hockey is too valuable to a players development to truly quantify.
Having said that, in the end, this is a minor-advantage for the Blackhawks, a team that is playing for the short-term at the moment, because in the short-term, the Hawks couldn’t ask for a more comfortable position to make a run for hockey’s ultimate prize, Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The purpose of a minor-league squad is to contribute to the big-league team, and that’s exactly what the IceHogs are doing, in what could turn out to be the Blackhawks finest hour.