The Chicago Blackhawks are at the point of no return
By Stephen Yatsushiro
People get ready.
Something has to or some things have to give, right? Staying on this present course is proving more and more that the current plan is not going to work. Our own John Aubert has also weighed in on this sensitive topic in his editorial. The Chicago Blackhawks, as currently constructed, are going nowhere fast. Unless you consider tanking to the bottom of the standings to increase the odds of drafting first in next year’s NHL draft as going somewhere.
Jack Hughes is the consensus favorite to be the next number one overall NHL draft pick next spring. He is a definite difference maker who could affect an NHL team the way 2018 number one overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin has had an immediate impact with the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are currently in 3rd place in the Atlantic division after finishing in last place last year. So one player really can affect a team, contrary to what many experts may say. The risk is that tanking aggravates the fans, who still want to see entertaining hockey, and also it does not guarantee your draft position because of a lottery system for the bottom 10 teams.
So, the way for the Chicago Blackhawks to climb out of their sinkhole is to live with the truth. Even if they have started to show some competitive fire, they are not going to be a playoff team this year. Sticking with the current roster is to be blind to the fact that the declining core will be harder and harder to complement and compensate for while waiting for iffy young talent to mature.
The possibilities I’ve offered are just that, possibilities. And not all of these proposals need to be done together if the right pieces are obtained to fill in the gaps. There are good players out there to acquire via trade who would upgrade the under-age-29 group the ‘Hawks currently have. But the ‘Hawks need to diversify their approach to acquiring players. The trend toward smaller, high skill players is a disturbing one. Modern hockey still needs more than just speed and skill. The recent successful teams have had that right combination of speed, skill, size, and grit.
Sam Boland also weighed in on the team’s resurgence in intensity, including a surprising victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Remember that a current surge does not mean that the ‘Hawks are going to capture a wild card berth this season. The surge can’t overshadow just where the team is heading after Bowman’s mishandling of the roster.
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The organization needs to decide if Stan Bowman is the right man to orchestrate a comeback. His record of rewarding past performance with large contracts has hamstrung this team. He may not be able to part with any of his prized players, even though he did trade away Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson in questionable moves. Chairman Rocky Wirtz also needs to evaluate the performance of team president John McDonough and his vision for the present and the future. The organization needs to start exploring all possible options to legitimately say that they have One Goal. Let’s Go, ‘Hawks.