Since their second straight first-round playoff loss, the Chicago Blackhawks have vowed to change in order to get back to the Stanley Cup. Amid the chaos of trade rumor chatter, Blackhawks fans need to prepare themselves for the inevitable of moving on.
To be completely honest, I have been absent from writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for a reason so far this offseason. I didn’t feel betrayed or utterly disappointed with another quick playoff run, I just took it for what it is and let it go.
A lot of us are used to spending the month of June on the edge of our seats, watching Patrick Kane carve up whatever Western Conference prey was on the menu that night. But not this year. This year, we didn’t get to hear Chelsea Dagger play at the UC during the playoffs. This year, bandwagon Predators fans told us to enjoy the links. This year, we began to question ourselves.
Sometimes when things aren’t working, we try to pry out problems that may or may not be the root of it all. The Stanley Cup Playoffs was like a holding cell for Blackhawks fans to figure out what went wrong before heads began to roll.
Narratives surfaced calling for everybody not named Rocky Wirtz or John McDonough to be removed from their jobs, showing panic of a group that has been so consistently successful. We even had the thought of trading dear captain Jonathan Toews cross our minds.
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I’m not here to tell you how Stan Bowman will magically fix the team or how he has screwed it up, but I will tell you that whatever happens after the draft and beyond we cannot be afraid of.
Changes are coming; it’s definite. But the sooner we can move on from the team’s glory days, the better off we’ll be. As fans, we feel the pressure of this metaphorical “win-now window” that’s closing faster and faster, but maybe we should just let it be.
Watching Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup this year gave me a lot of hope that the Blackhawks model could do the same thing in the near future. The ’Hawks are a top-heavy team that happens to draft incredibly well. Could they find their Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary or Bryan Rust in this year’s draft? Maybe. They might even already have him.
My point is that whatever happens in the next couple weeks is going to hurt. All Blackhawks fans know it’s coming, and we are all masking that pain in a debatably artificial excitement for 5-foot-7 Alex DeBrincat.
As fans, we need to stop juggling the lines and managing the salary cap because it’s far beyond our pay grade. It’s our time to support the guys in the Indian Head and bid farewell to those on their way out.