Chicago Blackhawks Repeating 2011-12 Vision
By Sean Fitzgerald
The Chicago Blackhawks signed Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma because of their style of play. They are gritty forwards that hit people.
Both players would have lead the Blackhawks in hits last season. The Blackhawks were last in the NHL with an average of 14.4 hits per season. Since the Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews era began, the Blackhawks have been a team that consistently gets out hit. Since 2008, the highest the Blackhawks have ranked in hits is 2010-11 at 15th. They have ranked last in 2011-12, 2013-14, 2015-16, and 2016-17. So I can see the logic in Bowman adding grit but it is not a huge piece to the championship puzzle.
The formula for the Blackhawks success during the Kane and Toews era has been speed and puck possession. Both of those items have been in decline since 2014-15 and that is why the team has struggled in the playoffs.
Didn’t this happen in 2011-12?
With Wingels and Bouma added to the roster, this reminds of the 2011-12 season of the Blackhawks. Stan Bowman also felt the the Blackhawks lacked toughness. So Bowman went out and added toughness/grit that off-season signing Andrew Brunette, Sami Lepisto, Steve Montador, and John Scott.
The toughness/grit players did not have the impact that Bowman was going for. The Blackhawks went from a speedy team to a very slow team. The result of that season was the Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Coyotes and the red hot Mike Smith. Bowman realized his mistake and Burnette, Lepisto, Montador, and Scott were off of the Blackhawks roster by next year. Scott did not last the entire 2011-12 season. He traded to the New York Rangers after playing in only 29 games. The late Montador would be buried in Rockford the following season. He appeared in 14 games with the Hogs and no games for the Hawks.
Bowman is Trying to Replace the “Andrew Shaw” effect
When Ryan Hartman was brought up to the Blackhawks last season everyone thought he would replace Andrew Shaw. It turns out Hartman offered more in terms of goal scoring and less in terms of hits. So now people are trying to speculate that Bouma is similar to Shaw.
Shaw goal scoring ability was a huge plus to his game because Shaw was prone to the “dumb penalty late in games. So the comparsion of Shaw without the goal scoring does not do anything for me. If anything it just reinforced the fact that Bouma and Wingels are just there to hit people.
If history tells us anything, adding players to hit people didn’t work out the first time. I question why are Bowman is trying to do it again.