The Chicago Blackhawks‘ old formula of success has come to an abrupt end. The vaunted Core now needs a dynamic supporting cast more than ever. In other words, they need the kids to grow up quickly.
Through the golden years of the Chicago Blackhawks’ domination of the NHL, their famous core of players could “flip the switch” to simply take over a game. Their amazing speed and skill was no match for most opponents.
But the core has lost many of its members, and those who remain are getting older. At the same time, the remaining 7 players are earning about $50 million, which is about 63 percent of the team’s salary cap room. This leaves $29 million to cover the remaining 13 players to round out the roster.
If we do the math, 13 players can earn an average of $2.2 million. If the ‘Hawks carry a full roster of 23, that number shrinks to $1.8 million each for 16 players. This is not much wiggle room to work with to fund a decent roster of role players.
The Chicago Blackhawks model
The model that the ‘Hawks have followed through their golden years has been a highly talented core supported by a carefully selected cast of role players. In this age of the salary cap, general manager Stan Bowman has had to choose whom to retain and sign to long term deals and whom to replace with new core or role players.
When Bowman replaced former general manager Dale Tallon, he inherited a roster that was rich in young elite talent. Tallon must be given credit for drafting current core players Duncan Keith ’02, Brent Seabrook ’03, Corey Crawford ’03, Jonathan Toews ’06 and Patrick Kane ’07. He drafted ex-Blackhawks standouts Dustin Byfuglien ’03, Dave Bolland ’04, Troy Brouwer ’04, Bryan Bickell ’04 and Niklas Hjalmarsson ’05.
He had also acquired Patrick Sharp, Andrew Ladd, and Kris Versteeg via trade, and signed free agents Brian Campbell, Antti Niemi, Marian Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky. This juggernaut of a roster was an impressive mix of young elite talent with experienced veterans who led the way.
We all know how they went on to win the first Stanley Cup in 49 years for the Blackhawks.