Coaching. The Chicago Blackhawks brass was quite busy this month. In the second week of January, Coach Joel Quenneville was re-signed through the 2019-20 season. At about the same time, he became the second winningest coach in NHL history, currently with 787 wins. He stands only behind the legendary Scotty Bowman, who has 1244 wins.
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Speaking of which, Scotty’s son Stan is currently the General Manager for the Chicago Blackhawks, and was just re-signed until 2021 earlier this week. He is the only general manager with three Stanley Cups in the salary cap era.
So the pieces are in place in regards to management to keep this “dynasty” going for quite some time.
Intangibles. The coaching section was dedicated to some of the intangibles of a winning mentality. So in this section I’d like to take a look at some of the weaknesses we see in the Chicago Blackhawks, and how they might be able to overcome them.
What to do about secondary scoring and rolling four lines seems to be the biggest challenge right now. January saw the Chicago Blackhawks acquire Richard Panik (LW) from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Jeremy Morin. Later in the month, Ryan Garbutt was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Jiri Sekac (LW). Both trades will help in regards to long-term cap space. But of course the ideal situation would be for these players to be able to contribute to the upcoming playoff push.
We haven’t seen much of either player yet, but they have both lined up on the fourth line for a few games. It was initially hinted that Panik might get an opportunity on the first line. We haven’t seen that yet, but maybe now that the Hawks have lost a few games, Coach Q will shake things up a bit.
It should also be noted that Mark McNeill (RW) has been called up from Rockford, and played in his first NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes this past Tuesday. He was then immediately sent back down on Wednesday. Whether we see him again after the All-Star break remains to be seen.
How these players fit in could be a big part of the puzzle to determine whether the Hawks can make another run for the Cup. Will Stan Bowman stick with his team as it is? Or will he make another deal before the trade deadline on February 29th? A trade could also very likely be to acquire another defenseman. As mentioned earlier, the tandem of Scuderi and Rozsival could definitely see improvement.
Thankfully, the Chicago Blackhawks have a much lighter schedule in February. They play only 11 games in 26 days, with no back-to-backs. It seems the Hawks have made it through the worst part of their schedule, and they still stand at the top of the Western Conference, with 70 points.
So let’s forget the three (there were only three, people!) ugly losses in January, and enjoy the All-Star break. I for one am looking forward to how the John Scott situation will play out. Oh, and we just might get to see some pretty fun 3-on-3 action.
The Chicago Blackhawks next tilt won’t be until Tuesday, February 2nd, against the Colorado Avalanche. Everyone enjoy your time off!
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