Blackhawks News

3 Chicago Blackhawks I Can’t Wait To Watch Next Year

By Gail Kauchak
Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks players Corey Crawford (50) , Andrew Shaw (65) and Jonathan Toews (19) celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks players Corey Crawford (50) , Andrew Shaw (65) and Jonathan Toews (19) celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks Might Be Done For This Year, But That Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Look Forward To Next Season

It sure was a strange weekend without any hockey, wasn’t it? But never fear, the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks finally kicks off tonight. So at least there will be some great hockey to watch over the next two weeks. But it’s still so darn bittersweet without our Chicago Blackhawks!

It’s never too early to begin thinking about next season. Who will be on the starting roster for the team? What will the forward lines and the defensive pairings look like? Who will step up to the plate and have a great season? Following this line of thought, here are three players I can’t wait to watch next year.

1. Jonathan Toews. Anybody who knows anything about Captain Serious will tell you he pretty much views this past season as a failure. I’m sure losing in the first round and not having a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup doesn’t sit very well with him. The highly competitive captain will likely use this as extra motivation moving forward.

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Remember the year of the most-recent lockout? Toews personally led all the drills at informal practices, as well as being a player representative in negotiation talks with the league.  Meanwhile, no coaches were allowed in the facility, and players weren’t even allowed to use the locker room.  When the lockout was finally settled and the season began, Toews and his team were prepared.  They came out flying, and eventually won the Cup that year.

If anyone has any question about Toews’ drive, all they have to do is read this article by Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune. When it comes to the will to succeed, Toews is one of a kind. I have no doubt that he will lead his team with extra determination heading into this coming season. It should be fun to witness!

2. Michal Kempny.  Here we have one of the newest members of the team. He agreed to terms with the Chicago Blackhawks on May 23. The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic is a defenseman who registered five goals and 16 assists with the Avangard Omsk of the KHL last year. He continued to impress in the postseason, as well as in the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship. All this earned him the honor of being named one of Czech Republic’s best current players.

Kempny is known to be a defenseman who can move the puck well and be responsible on both ends of the ice. This could fit in very well with the ’Hawks’ style of play. Many have high hopes that he will be able to fill the fourth defenseman spot on the team. If this is the case, it would definitely bolster the depth that has been missing on the blue line.

Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks signed Artemi Panarin from the KHL, and that turned out pretty good. Can the Kempny signing turn out the same way for the team, or will it be a bust? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.

3. Corey Crawford.  There have been some very good goalies in this year’s playoffs. But, in my mind, none compare to Crawford. With little exception, Corey had an excellent year. For the 2015-16 regular season, he was in the top 10 in pretty much every statistical category.  He ranked fifth in save percentage (.924) and first in shutouts (7).  And this was in spite of the fact Crawford didn’t always have the best defense in front of him.

In many instances, Crawford put the team on his shoulders and carried them to victory. His strong and solid play was what kept the ’Hawks in games when the team struggled to score, or when the defense wasn’t up to par.

What I miss most about Crow is his confidence. It was so fun to watch him come out to challenge every play. I loved witnessing him bounce back and sticking with it even after giving up a soft goal. And who doesn’t love his infamous head bob? Hopefully Crawford can pick up right where he left off last year.

Starting tonight, we will watch players such as Sidney Crosby and Brent Burns as they enjoy the big stage for the next few weeks. I must say, the former is pretty much the reason I won’t root for the Penguins, and the latter is the reason I will root for the Sharks. But I’m getting off track. We’re discussing the Chicago Blackhawks here, after all.

Next: Hawks Sunday Viewing: My House

Remember, the long grind of yet another season starts all over again in a few months. In the grand scheme of things, October isn’t really all that far away (work with me here, people). And then we will be fortunate enough to witness our favorite Chicago Blackhawks suit up and begin yet another push for the Stanley Cup. Who will you be looking forward to watching?

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