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Chicago Blackhawks: Where To Go From Last Place in the NHL?

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 06: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a second-period goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during their game at T-Mobile Arena on December 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 06: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a second-period goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during their game at T-Mobile Arena on December 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
ANAHEIM, CA – DECEMBER 05: Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) and left-wingers Brandon Saad (20) and Alex DeBrincat (12) on the bench during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks played on December 5, 2018 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Option Two: Play the Long Game

Let me start by saying that I refuse to endorse tanking in any capacity. This approach is in no way designed to be about losing games.

That said, it isn’t necessarily about winning them, either.

Let me explain.

Stan Bowman put the Chicago Blackhawks in a terrible position by firing coach Joel Quenneville during the season and hiring Jeremy Colliton. It’s not about what Q could have done if he would’ve stuck around longer, if he deserved to go sooner or if Colliton is the right guy for the job.

Rather, it’s about the timing.

Though I’m sure the statistic has changed now, Mark Lazerus of The Athletic wrote that through 14 games Colliton has tried 13 different lineups. That alone demonstrates that Colliton is still trying to figure out who works well with each other within his system.

That’s something that should be worked out during training camp, the preseason and first few games of the season. Drastic line changes are simply not something you want to consistently see night in and night out as it allows for virtually no chemistry to be formed.

In addition to that, the Blackhawks are having a difficult time adjusting to Colliton’s man system after having played in Q’s zone for so long. Again, systems are something to be learned during the summer and the first few weeks of the season, not late November.

At the end of the day, things just aren’t going well for the Hawks this year.

They’re trying to learn on the fly and it’s not going as well as they anticipated. Players are getting tired of putting the same positive spin on things and, though some guys like Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are all fighting, the personnel to truly compete doesn’t look to be there right now.

So, what do you do?

Play the long game.

Stop feeding the same empty quotes to the media game after game. Stop playing not-to-lose. This team needs to start playing like they have nothing to lose (a league-worst record solidifies that to be true).

Rather than putting pressure on themselves to perform and produce wins, let the focus shift from the standings to growing the team.

I don’t care if Kane scores 60 goals and 2013 Toews is back — this team still is not deep enough to compete. Rather than trying to convince themselves otherwise, why not focus on simply improving the on-ice product?

Let Henri Jokiharju, Erik Gustafsson and Connor Murphy eat up ice time while developing their games. I don’t care if it means Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are taking less ice time — maybe that lack of usage will be good for their bodies at this point in their career.

Let Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kahun continue to grow as players.

Let this group grow as a team. Then, maybe we’ll start seeing results on the ice. Stop trying to convince everyone that this current group is a contender for a Stanley Cup. If they truly are, their play will show begin to show it in time.

Rather, put the focus on growth at this point. The “Core” as we know them is incapable of carrying this team to another Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be apart of another run. If Bowman and company want to make this happen, the focus needs to more aggressively shift to growth from within than it currently is.

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Then, when guys begin to develop, you go and get a certain Russian scorer in the offseason. Then, when there’s more foundation laid within the ‘Hawks defense, you can try and sign/trade for another piece.

Then, when this group begins to come together as a team again, you can start putting your sights back on that Stanley Cup.

So, Blackhawks fans, I ask as always… what do you think?

Where do our Hawks go from here? I’ll look forward to talking about it below.

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