Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Stanley Cup Window is Not Closing!

By Tim Lively
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) is congratulated for scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) is congratulated for scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) is congratulated for scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) is congratulated for scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

So the other day I came across an article at CBS.com concerning our beloved Chicago Blackhawks that argued the merits of trading, no matter how unpopular it may be, Artem Anisimov to free up cap space to make it easier to keep the likes of Andrew Shaw et al. on the roster, as well as gain the ability to possibly go after an established puck-moving defensemen like, and I quote, “Brian Campbell.”

Set aside for a second the fact that there is no way Anisimov is going to be moved after ‘Hawks’ GM Stan Bowman inked him to a long term contract that expires in 2021, and the fact that it makes no sense that after years of searching for a reliable second line center, the Blackhawks’ brass would turn around and give their long-awaited solution away for a 37-year-old D-man.

What’s important about this article, was that while it wasn’t explicitly stated in said publication, such an asinine suggestion as trading Anisimov stems from a sediment that has gained a bit of traction this past year in particular with the Blackhawks: their Stanley Cup window is closing.

Before I debunk this very notion, let’s examine why it even exists in the first place.

The Blackhawks had a less-than-pretty season, by ‘Hawks Nation standards, because of the roster shakeup they experienced this past offseason. That was to be expected. However, unlike the first Great Roster Purge in 2010, this time around the Blackhawks were coming off two Stanley Cup wins and a seven-game exit from the Western Conference Finals during the past three consecutive years. So needless to say, the likes of certain Blackhawks like Brent Seabrook and 37-year-old Marian Hossa looked a bit fatigued at times during this season.

Couple with this “fatigue” the moves Stan Bowman executed during this year’s regular season trade deadline. Bringing in such a high profile name as Andrew Ladd was a big gamble which many ‘Hawks fans interpreted as an “all in” type of move, one that was motivated by an apparent recognition of the Blackhawks’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup again are dwindling, so it was okay to mortgage future prospective players for a shot at the here and now.

Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) battles for the puck against Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) battles for the puck against Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

So all this has led some in Chi-Town circles to believe that the window for the Blackhawks to win another Stanley Cup is closing, believe it or not.

Well I’ll tell you right here and now, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past three years the Blackhawks were arguably just five wins shy in 2014 (considering how horrible the New York Rangers looked against the Los Angeles Kings in the Finals that year) of winning three straight Stanley Cups. To put it into context, a comparable feat in terms of sheer games played by a team in such a small timeframe hasn’t been achieved in the NHL since the New York Islanders’ four consecutive Stanley Cup wins in the early 1980’s (during the height of the steroid and cocaine craze – not saying, just saying).

The point here is that in a city prone to hero-worshipping like Chicago, we often forget that our boys in red, white, and black are, despite suggestions to the contrary, only human and hockey is arguably the most physically demanding of all pro sports.

Thus, given the particular yet not unfamiliar ails the Blackhawks were experiencing with their blue line and forward lineups, after enduring so much hockey in the past three years, the ‘Hawks just didn’t quite have the stamina or intensity this time around to compensate like they have for similar deficiencies in years past.

Yet, this fatigue factor won’t last with the Blackhawks. Believe it or not, they are still an incredibly young team. Of the players that are likely to remain in Chi-Town, only Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, and Brent Seabrook are over 30 (Seabs, Crow, and Duncs barely being so), so as a team, their resiliency shouldn’t be a question going forward. Again, this a team that has played an appalling amount of hockey in the past three years; it was going to have to catch up with them at some point. However, after this unusually long offseason, the ‘Hawks will return with restored vim and vigor unseen since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman presents right wing Patrick Kane (right) with a golden puck to commemorate Kane
Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman presents right wing Patrick Kane (right) with a golden puck to commemorate Kane /

As far as Stan Bowman’s alleged wheeling and dealing of the Blackhawks’ future, while he’s certainly made a few mistakes along the way, Bowman has a proven track record of always keeping the big picture top of mind. Three Stanley Cups in six years aside, the fact that Bowman by and large raised all three Cups using the same players, the majority of which are as of now locked up for at least the next four-five years, is a true testament to Bowman betting on the right horses, with Anisimov just being the latest example.

Given that such a core of proven players is so firmly planted in Chicago, and given their collective age, the ‘Hawks may not be Stanley Cup favorites every year, but they will at the very least be viable Cup contenders for at least the next five years-eight, which is darn near half a century in NHL time. Thus, there is no reason their current modus operandi needs to be drastically altered to cash in while the “getting’s good.”

By their very nature, dynasties must come to an end at some point, but the Blackhawks’ current dynastic reign is far from over.

FOR THE DAGGER!

facebooktwitterreddit