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Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi Part VI: Next 10 Years (Part II)

By Tim Lively
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Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi is a mini-series I do periodically here at Blackhawk Up that is reserved for fantastic hypotheticals. I consider the following speculation science fiction at this point because, as of now, it’s pure fantasy. But who knows what the future will bring…

So it’s the year 2015, and it’s simply amazing to look back and reflect just how far our beloved Chicago Blackhawks have come, and all they’ve done for Chi-Town. So I thought I’d take this occasion to predict what the next 10 years hold in store for our boys in red, white and black, as well as their fans.

In the first part of this three-post article we took a look at the years 2016-2018.

Today we’ll take a crack at years 2019-2022.

Feb 10, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Russia forward

Viktor Tikhonov

(10) during an ice hockey training session in advance of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

2019 – Blackhawks Bloc Takeover!

Since the beginning of the Rocky Wirtz Era, the Chicago Blackhawks have had a predominately Canadian and Swedish roster, with a noteworthy Slovakian, Finnish or American player here or there. One interesting development this offseason has yielded thus far, however, is a sizeable influx of skaters from former Eastern Bloc countries. New to the ’Hawks roster for the 2015-16 campaign are Russians Viktor Tikhonov, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin as well as Slovak Marko Dano. Not to mention, newly minted Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen has yet to play a full season as a Chicago Blackhawk (okay, I know Finland is a Nordic country, but it shares a border with Russia, which is close enough for all intents and purposes).

While this is all just a happy coincidence, it shouldn’t be overlooked what all these players have in common other than hailing from similar cultural backgrounds.

First and foremost, with roughly an average age of 23, these five new additions to the ’Hawks are young. Second, the majority of these players have demonstrated significant potential in areas that fit well within the Blackhawks’ playing style: agile offensive ability, strong puck possession and solid two-way play (plenty of comparisons have already been made between several of these players and the likes of Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad). Finally, all of these players are still mastering or are beginning to master the North America style of hockey.

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That last attribute may not sound meaningful, but it adds more common ground besides their similar cultural background upon which these players can bond. We all know chemistry among linemates in hockey is everything, so any circumstance that can help players form better synergy should not be ignored. All five of these players will be going through similar trials and tribulations together as they mature and reach their full potential over the next few years, the culmination of which I believe will happen no later than 2019.

By 2019, these Eastern European players, or the Blackhawks Bloc if you will, will have come into their own and will prove to be force to be reckoned with in NHL. I can easily see Tikhonov, Anisimov and Pararin forming a solid second or third line for the ’Hawks, and Teravainen helming his own line at center with Dano and his idol/soon-to-be-mentor, Marian Hossa, on the wings.

This may be very presumptuous, but if the success Swedish defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya experienced during their years together on the Blackhawks is any indication of the benefits that come with pairing fellow countrymen on the same line, I’m very optimistic about the Blackhawks Bloc.

Next: What Does 2020 Have In Store?

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