The Next Chapter
The issue at hand for the Chicago Blackhawks organization is sustainability. Now that the team is on the other end of the cycle of excellence, is the organization still making those tough decisions with the same obsessive focus? It seems the motto “One Goal” is what the power play is hoping for in the month of November.
It’s time to start building again. John McDonough and other key executives attended games last week in the press box. They know they need to step in and make changes – it’s a question of when.
The answer is now.
This is relatively similar to what happened in 2008 when coach Q was hired. A perfect match of experience, temperament and intensity. All of a sudden the ‘Hawks had a “system” and we watched in awe as players were actually held accountable for their play.
A coach who understood the grind of the game, dropping unnecessary practices and giving veteran players time away from the ice. Every coach in the NHL now does this. Yes, Joel Quenneville is a legend and a true players coach. Last night he benched Nick Schmaltz for poor play. That’s what a great coach does – sends a message. Not only to Schmaltz, but to the entire team.
Da Windy City
The issue is, no one seems to be receiving the message.
A New Approach
It’s not all bad. Patrick Kane has a league leading 11 goals, our Captain seems to have awoken from a three year slumber to be an impact player again and the team has a talented group of young players who could soon become impact players in the NHL.
Young defensemen are playing top minutes while more are coming up in through the organization. Additionally, star goaltender Corey Crawford is back in the net. This is a team waiting for the right fuse to light.
With a new approach – and some additional talent – and this team can be competitive on a consistent basis.
Yes, it might be best to tank this year as getting high draft picks can change a team quickly (see the Toronto Maple Leafs for reference).
In my mind, however, that does not mean Joel Quenneville needs to stay. On the contrary, now is the time to bring in a new leader to navigate through this down period while preparing the team for the next winning cycle.
That was the decision made in 2008; strive for excellence in every facet of the organization. Is this mantra still in place or is it protect the old guys who won a few years ago? Maybe the Chicago Blackhawks could take a page out of the Pittsburgh Penguin’s book and win a Cup the first year with a new coach. We have a similar mix of veterans and youth, however we’ll never know until a decision is made.
To Joel Quenneville, Stan Bowman and the entire organization – thank you.
We can never repay you for bringing Chicago three Stanley Cups after waiting almost 50 years. Coach Q will never have to buy a drink in Chicago for his entire life. Who knows, maybe they hang a huge mustache in the rafters to commemorate his greatness. If he opens a steak house, I’m definitely going – bet it would have some killer memorabilia on the walls.
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Whatever transpires, it’s been a great run and I wish him the very best. Coach Q made winning hockey happen in Chicago and it will never be forgotten.
Only time will tell if Q’s tenure in Chicago is over, or if he can manage to turn this year around. Regardless, the leash is becoming increasingly short.