Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Five Thoughts on 4-1 Loss to Arizona Coyotes

By Samuel Boland
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the puck past Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes in the third period at the United Center on October 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the puck past Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes in the third period at the United Center on October 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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No. 5 Niklas Hjalmarsson misses us almost as much as we miss him.

Last night was Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s first return to the United Center after being traded in exchange for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin ahead of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

The Chicago Blackhawks put together a tribute video for him, part of which can be viewed below.

Take a look at the 32 second mark. Hjalmarsson goes for a skate while tears stream down his face. Here’s what Hammer had to say on his time in Chicago:

"“I gave my heart and soul for this club for 10 years and played as hard as I could and I’m proud of what I accomplished along with my great teammates that I had here for a long time.”"

I get it. Connor Murphy is six years younger. His contract is a year longer and certainly makes more sense for the future.

That said, he saves us a whopping $250k a year. That’s it. The move makes sense on paper, however watching Hjalmarsson on the ice continues to prove that this wasn’t the best hockey decision. The Hjalmarsson trade more or less felt like it was a move just to make a move.

It didn’t make the team better in the present and it saves a very minuscule amount of money. I understand the long-term thought process, but is this team not trying to win right now? The new “One Goal”campaigns certainly give off that message.

Regardless, it was a heck of a lot less fun to watch Hammer make plays and sprawl out all over the ice blocking shots in an opposing uniform. That type of play would’ve been appreciated greatly when the Coyotes effortlessly cashed in on that Brandon Manning 2-on-1.

Hjalmarsson gave everything he had to this city and organization. I’ll never forget what he meant to this team or to those Cup runs.

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Those “heart and soul” type of players don’t come around very often. Not only that, but it’s rare that a “heart and soul” type player is also your best true defenseman on the team. When you do get rid of these guys, there needs to be an incredibly good reason to get rid of them.

Hjalmarsson is certainly missed, but in a weird way it’s nice to know that he misses us too.

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