Dear Coach Joel Quenneville: Let the Blackhawks Play!

By Tim Lively

Nov 4, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville reacts during the second period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Coach Q:

This letter is probably another baseball bat to a rotting horse carcass, but I figure one more tenor in the choir that’s been singing for several years now wouldn’t hurt considering stubbornness is your second most infamous quality.

However, I am actually writing you regarding your most infamous quality: the line blender. Everyone and their mothers knows that when our beloved Chicago Blackhawks’ play is struggling, you shuffle the lines faster than a deck of cards in Las Vegas.

This year has been no exception, understandably, but with the recent addition of several new players and the injury to Patrick Kane, your line juggling has brought a new kind of madness to March that is completely non-bracket related.

The sheer amounts of different line combinations we’ve seen take the ice lately for the Blackhawks have been too numerous to count. Furthermore, lately the line juggling has occurred after the Blackhawks actually win games, which frankly is a disturbing new setting on the line blender.

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The Blackhawks may be missing their leading scorer, but we both know this team’s roster is full of talented and capable scorers, and the prospect of possible dynamite combinations that lay hidden within the ranks has been too tempting for you to pass up mixing and matching.

However, despite their depth of talent, there’s no denying the Hawks’ offensive is struggling, and mightily. There is simply no way that a team that boasted the top-ranked offense in NHL at the beginning of the season could fall to its current spot in the offensive rankings (slightly above the average) purely from the loss of Patrick Kane.

Thus, the Hawks scoring issues as of late are indicative of a more holistic problem. Coach, I’m not an expert, but I do know that when I see the Hawks take the ice, they don’t look like a team, but an assortment of parts. In the absence of the potent chemistry they’ve had earlier this year, there are a bunch of individual players trying too do much and hesitating that one crucial second during offensive rushes because of a lack of tried and true synergy with their line mates.

However, there’s a reason for that, and it’s what you believe is the solution. I’m not staying stop changing up the lines, but stop changing up the %$#%@$# lines!

Granted there has been a big shake-up in the personnel you have to work with, and it was necessary to find the best line combinations. There’s also no denying you’ve made some pretty productive discoveries along the way, i.e. the duo of Bryan Bickell and Brad Richards.

Mar 14, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) is congratulated after scoring a goal during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Chicago won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

However, there are now just nine games left in regular season; that means pencils down! You’ve had you chance to play around with multiple offensive line-ups, but you and I both know, now is an absolutely critical time for the Hawks to start stringing wins together, gaining momentum, and building confidence heading into the playoffs.

There’s a way for this to happen, and that is to simply let the Blackhawks play. You may not be 100% satisfied with certain line combinations at first, but again, your time’s up for modifications. I guarantee any initial deficiencies any line has will eventually iron themselves out as players start developing chemistry with each other.

Furthermore, after being in want for so many years, the Blackhawks are now replete with proven centers, which in my opinion takes away a lot of guess work and helps you build the lines up through the middle.

In closing, Coach Q, I beg of you, please stroke you mustache in contemplation just once more, set the lines, and then let the Blackhawks play!


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