It’s no secret the Chicago Blackhawks tend to hold players back. With how their system works, it’s become apparent that even the slightest mediocre ability will drag you into Stan Bowman’s doghouse.
With the 2018 NHL trade deadline behind us, it’s now time to discuss the vulnerability of the trades. The Chicago Blackhawks, for one, were definitely not a quiet group heading into the stress-inducing deadline.
The Blackhawks decided to become full-on sellers, dealing away forward Ryan Hartman for prospect Victor Ejdsell from the Nashville Predators, as well as a first- and fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The Blackhawks decided to give away forward Tommy Wingels to the Boston Bruins, receiving a fifth-round pick in the same draft.
It was quite surprising to see the ‘Hawks give Hartman the boot, as he was one of the seemingly model players to base the future of the franchise on. He was enjoyable to watch and kept an enthusiastic and gritty attitude in the locker room, something that has been missing since Andrew Shaw left the team.
There’s one thing we’ve been able to identify after the Blackhawks give the boot to players who didn’t meet their expectations: They always seem to preform better in another system.
For example, let’s just take a look at Hartman and Wingels’ performances with their new teams.
Fresh, great starts
Both Hartman and Wingels scored in their debuts with their new teams. Neither of them waited to make great first impressions with the chances they were given.
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Wingels turned out to be phenomenal in his debut, when he looked comfortable, sleek and fresh. He forced a few turnovers and even scored a goal versus former Blackhawk Scott Darling.
For Hartman, it was nearly identical. In the third period, Hartman scored the game-winning goal. His presence was seemingly, just like Wingels in Boston, a lot more comfortable and flexible.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette said during a postgame interview: “He looked like he knew the system. He looked like he had been playing it forever just with regard to the offensive zone and what we were trying to do.”
What does it mean?
This without a doubt raises some questions and speculations about the Blackhawks coaching staff. We all know of Joel Quenneville as a very strict, unleveled coach when it comes to performance. If you’re not 100 percent all the time, he’ll light a fire under you to get you back up. If you fail to do so, you become limited to what you can do on the ice.
That system was beneficial when the Blackhawks had plenty core pieces in their prime. Now, however, with experimental pieces and players needing work done to get NHL-ready, it becomes a problem.
What we’ve seen with other NHL teams, such as the Nashville Predators, is they allow players to keep creativity on the ice while playing at an elite level. They’re not as limited with on-ice actions and aren’t kept behind closed doors.
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It’s a problem that will continue to happen if Quenneville stays in control behind the bench. We’re at a time where things are changing. With what we’ve seen, more things might be changing if the Blackhawks keep wasting away progressing talents.