Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks fans are covered in confetti during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
During the 2014-2015 season at Blackhawk Up, I periodically did a miniseries I called Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi, whose sole purpose was entertaining “fantastic hypotheticals.” These posts were mainly a fan’s utopian visions when it came to our beloved Chicago Blackhawks, but again, you never know what the future will bring.
Now that Lord Stanley’s Cup is back in its rightful place in Chicago, I thought I’d take this chance to reflect on this miniseries’ postulations over the course of the season and see if any came even remotely to fruition…
Season Verdict: Pure Fantasy
This speculation was rooted in the desire to turn David Rundblad into more than a defensemen on the brink. While old, Kimmo Timonen could have served as a vital mentor and teacher to the young Rundblad and help him reach a new level before the playoffs. Alas, Coach Joel Quenneville never trusted the Timonen enough to helm his own line and always paired him with one of the Big Four Hawks’ defensemen. This unfortunately denied Rundblad a chance to form real chemistry with anyone or come into his own. Rundblad is now going to be a likely offseason casualty…
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Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi Part IV: Reunite David Rundblad and Tim Erixon, Permanently
Season Verdict: Pure Fantasy
This was yet another reactive wanting to the shortcomings of Michal Rozsival during the season (who knew how much we’d end up missing him in the playoffs?!). This speculation was trying to capitalize on the potential chemistry Rundblad and Erixon formed during their days playing together on the Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elitserien before they entered NHL draft in 2009. At this point, most Hawks fans probably don’t remember Tim Erixon even being on the Blackhawks, as he was waived soon after the Hawks acquired him from the Columbus Bluejackets for their top prospect Jeremy Morin. Erixon was an absolute flubbing by the Blackhawks brass as far as I’m concerned, since we basically gave away Morin for free, and because Erixon is perhaps yet another victim of Coach Q not giving young players a decent chance to develop.
Season Verdict: Pure Fantasy
This speculation came in the wake of both Clendening and Dahlbeck being brought up to the Blackhawks after their resounding success on the Rockford IceHogs as a defensive tandem. While for the 2014-2015 campaign this may have been wishful thinking, it seemed all but inevitable to happen the following year. When Trevor van Riemsdyk was put on long term IR however, and Clendening and Dahlbeck both started cutting their teeth in the NHL, expectations changed. The problem was, Clendening and Dahlbeck were brought up separately, and paired with who else but Michal Rozsival on their respective tours, who already dragged down Nick Leddy to the point of being deemed expendable. Alas, Clendening and Dahlbeck would suffer the same fate, as they were both dealt to other teams at the trade deadline.
Feb 9, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wingMarian Hossa
(81) celebrates scoring a goal with left wingBrandon Saad
(20) during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi Part II: Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa on the Same Line
Season Verdict: Dreams Come True!
For the bulk of his career, Brandon Saad’s talent and ability as a two-way forward has led to multiple comparisons to one of the best two-way forwards around: Marian Hossa. So much to the point that Saad’s assumed monikers such as Mini-Hoss and Hossa’s Heir. It would seem only natural that these two Hawks wingers would be paired together.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine Saad playing on the same line as Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw, but that’s where he started at the beginning of the 2014-2015 campaign. Then, Patrick Sharp got injured, and Saad took his spot on the first line with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews (no slouch in the two-way forward department himself), and the rest was history.
Whether Hossa was actively mentoring Saad or Saad was learning on purely a subconscious level, there’s no arguing #20 flourished on the first line with Hossa. Saad and Hossa proved to be perfect line-mates and all but locked up Saad’s future with the Blackhawks as the prime candidate to take up Hoss’ crucial mantle whenever he decides to retire.
Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi Part II: Put Brad Richards on Defense
Season Verdict: Kinda Came True
The logic here was the same Coach Q had when he used to shift defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to wing on occasion. With the question marks surrounding the defensive third line in the wake of Nick Leddy’s departure, a loaded offensive side of the Hawks roster, and the then underwhelming play of Richards at the dot, it seemed like it would be worth a try to move the defensively-minded Richards to the blue line and see what developed. This was obviously before Richards hit his stride on the second line with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg, but the Hawks still benefited from Richard’s defensive leanings on the power play this season, where he played at the point.
If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s been that much was desired on the Blackhawks blue line this season. Yet, they battled through their defensive trials and tribulations and brought home the Cup. I certainly hope that the Hawks have at least learn from their defensive conundrums this season, and Q-Stache finally learns to let the many young defensemen the Blackhawks have in their farm system get a fair shot at solidifying themselves for the 2016-2015 season. Once again however, only time will tell…
FOR THE DAGGER!
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