Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough announced that both Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville will return next season. So there are no changes with top management, but change is gonna come.
It was a trying season for all involved with the Chicago Blackhawks. Some called it the perfect storm. Let’s recap the gory details one more time for those keeping score at home.
Scott Darling was traded to Carolina with no apparent successor to his backup role.
Artemi Panarin was traded to Columbus along with his top-10 scoring ability.
Brandon Saad was re-acquired in the trade for Panarin but failed to rekindle any chemistry with Jonathan Toews. Saad’s inability to pass or shoot tanked the top line.
Richard Panik regressed after a solid 2016-17 season and also tanked the top line. He was traded to Arizona for Anthony Duclair, who demonstrated great speed but no scoring touch.
Jonathan Toews did not resurrect his elite play while saddled with Saad and Panik.
Marcus Kruger as the top shutdown center was traded and along with the loss of Hossa, Toews was the lone two-way forward. The hard minutes wore down Toews.
The loss of Niklas Hjalmarsson was a serious blow to the defense. His elite shot blocking was never replaced.
Newly acquired Connor Murphy continued to play like a third-pairing defenseman as he was in Arizona. He was a frequent healthy scratch.
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Michal Kempny did not progress to compensate for the loss of Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.
Jan Rutta started out strong but faded as the season wore him down.
Gustav Forsling made great strides in maturing as a defensman, but was still not ready for prime time.
Patrick Sharp wasn’t the Patrick Sharp of old, just old.
Alex DeBrincat proved he could score in the NHL but was a turnover machine early in the season.
Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels were wildly successful in pushing possession but couldn’t score.
Duncan Keith couldn’t buy a goal and got burnt out early in the season from too many minutes.
Brent Seabrook continued to slow down.
COREY CRAWFORD WENT DOWN WITH AN INJURY.
Anton Forsberg, Jeff Glass, J.F. Berube and Collin Delia struggled as Crawford’s replacements.
These are the misfires and bad luck that doomed the ‘Hawks. Who would’ve thought that all these things could happen in one season? All this after the ‘Hawks posted a fine regular-season record the year before and came out guns a-blazing in the season opener.
Yes, both Bowman and Quenneville have had their share of missteps this season. But the extreme bad luck and unexpected regressions of players make this a season that doesn’t erase Bowman’s and Quenneville’s decade of achievement.
So what lies ahead for this team in transition?