The Chicago Blackhawks traded for forward Tomas Jurco from the Detroit Red Wings at the deadline this year with hopes that a change of scenery could get his game going again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Blackhawk Up caught up with Brad Krysko and Ryan Hana of wingsnation.com and The Winged Wheel Podcast to talk Jurco and the ’Hawks/Wings rivalry.
Aaron: The Chicago Blackhawks traded a third-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings at this year’s deadline in exchange for Tomas Jurco, but the ’Hawks couldn’t get him to find his groove. He scored just one point in 13 regular-season games and struggled to make an impact. Talk about Jurco’s struggles in Detroit and why he and the Red Wings decided to part ways.
Brad: The large majority of Wings followers would attribute Jurco’s struggles to lack of opportunity and improper usage, which greatly hindered his development. Both of those points are true and likely a large reason why he fizzled out in Detroit.
However, in the windows he was given he never made any sort of impact on the game. His puck skills were as ridiculous as you’d ever see from a prospect, but he struggles tremendously to keep up to the pace in the NHL. His brain simply can’t keep up with his own hands or other players.
Detroit’s brass likely noticed this become a recurring theme and abandoned ship while there was still some value to be had.
Aaron: What type of player is Jurco and what potential does he have to be an impactful player?
Brad: Jurco is built for a top-six role. He’s not physical, he’s not aggressive, despite not being terrible defensively he’s far from what you would call a defensive wizard. He’s built to score and quite simply he’s struggled to do so at the NHL level.
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A lot will have to go right for him to ever be an impactful player at the NHL level. If he’s put on a scoring line with gifted players, gets powerplay time and quickens his decision making on the ice, he could develop into a consistent point producer.
Aaron: Jurco never averaged better than 13 minutes of ice time in Detroit. Being drafted in the second round in 2011, what has preventing him from a top-six role?
Brad: Detroit has a lot of flaws as a team, but offensive depth isn’t one of them. Detroit’s top nine has been fairly lucky in terms of health over the last few seasons, so he hasn’t had an extended stretch in the top six.
If Jurco was ever going to get into a scoring role, he’d have had to outperform the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou or Justin Abdelkader, and despite some of their struggles he never really showed he could adequately replace any of them.
I mean, he could of replaced Abdelkader, but at the same time a scarecrow with a hockey stick could have replaced him as well so that’s not saying much. Wings fans don’t understand that contract either…
Aaron: The Wings are set to move into Little Caesars Arena next year. With the brand-new facility, a rebuild at hand and the passing of their longtime owner, what is the overall vibe in the Red Wings culture with so many changes happening?
Ryan: Yet, there is still excitement within Red Wings fans. Some of it is due to fans in denial about the team’s downward spiral (in my opinion it will last a couple more years at least) who are looking at this past season as a fluke or outlier.
The bulk of the buzz comes from two things, however: The idea of Detroit being in a new position to rebuild and lean on youth/development, and Little Caesars Arena.
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No sane Detroiter would tell you that they would prefer the team to be bad and draft high over making the playoffs for literal decades in succession. Still, there’s something exhilarating about changing the status quo (even if it’s for the worse) and trying something new.
Detroit Red Wings hockey has been stale for some time now, and the streak ending represents a sort of monkey-off-the-back scenario for the organization. Without the pressure of keeping the streak alive, and with new ownership (though the Ilitch family has been mostly in charge of the team for some time, what with Mike Ilitch’s decline in health starting years before his passing), fans are expecting a refresher of sorts.
No more trading picks and prospects for washed up veterans; no more patchwork fixes and subpar defensemen; no more complacency with a first-round exit. Add in a brand new state-of-the-art arena (we loved the Joe, but it was a serious dump), and one can’t help but feel the electricity in the air. It’s all very Detroit Lions-esque, but hey, the city has to find promise where it can.
Aaron: Since they changed conferences, the rivalry between the Wings and the ’Hawks has gone away with fans wanting more than just two meetings a year. Will the move the the new building officially close the door on the rivalry?
Ryan: Detroit fans everywhere will lament the loss of the Detroit-Chicago rivalry. Though we’re happy to be out of the thunderdome known as the Central Division, there was something special about those games. The only rivalry that compares to it over the past couple of generations is the Detroit-Colorado feud.
Still, even with limited meetings between the two, both Detroit and Chicago fan bases don’t forget what it was like. Both franchises have storied histories, and with that comes experienced, knowledgeable fans.
The great thing about that kind of fan base is that it doesn’t forget, and they’re just as rabid as ever years later. Red Wings fans yearn for the days where the Blackhawks are in town, and the team does as well. The games are always high-intensity, chippy and have so much substance to them.
Even in a season where Detroit was a bottom-feeder and Chicago was, well, Chicago, both teams and their fans bought into the matchup like it was a conference finals game from years past. The new building absolutely represents saying goodbye to a lot of incredible, irreplaceable history, but the rivalry defined by hatred, vitriol and pure resentment between Detroit and Chicago is not one of them.