Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Analyzing Henri Jokiharju’s Loan for World Juniors

By Samuel Boland
WINNIPEG, MB - DECEMBER 11: Henri Jokiharju #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks keeps an eye on the play during first period action against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell MTS Place on December 11, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jets defeated the Hawks 6-3. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MB - DECEMBER 11: Henri Jokiharju #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks keeps an eye on the play during first period action against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell MTS Place on December 11, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jets defeated the Hawks 6-3. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
OTTAWA, ON – OCTOBER 04: Chicago Blackhawks Defenceman Henri Jokiharju (28) waits for a face-off during first period National Hockey League action between the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators on October 4, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

“Against” Jokiharju to World Juniors

This, like a few other moves made this season and offseason, seems to be yet another lazy decision coming from Stan Bowman.

Bowman signed some bad, bad contracts over the past two seasons (there are more that date back farther, but let’s be generous for now). Suddenly, Bowman has nine NHL defensemen on his hands that he has no idea what to do with. Here’s a memory refresher:

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This list doesn’t include Jan Rutta, another bad signing, recently sent down to the AHL.

Stan has an surplus of bad d-men who no one wants. And, rather than do something about it, he continues to prolong the inevitable by convincing us that Jokiharju would benefit from a stint playing against teenagers again.

His lack of decision making could have something to do with the fact that no one, outside of apparently Stan Bowman, seems to want these defensemen.

Bowman was saved by injuries in the past, and now he’s found yet another avenue to help keep his head above water. Circumstances won’t always be so kind.

The clock is ticking, my friend.

Additionally, regardless of how much this surplus of bad contracts truly factors in, how can we really think that playing against teenagers is going to be what’s best for Jokiharju’s development as an NHL player?

There’s a reason defensemen have a hard time coming from juniors straight to the NHL: it’s a very, very different game. Sure, there’s a realistic chance that Jokiharju could regain his confidence offensively and upon his return have an offensive touch that we haven’t seen on full display in the NHL yet.

But, he could also take a big step back in developing as an NHL defensemen. The best players in the world are the best players in the world for a reason. Athletes are always elevated by those they are playing with or against. How does playing against lesser competition benefit him?

Do we really think that telling Jokiharju, “your ability isn’t good enough for a last place NHL team right now, go take two weeks playing for Finland with kids” is legitimately better for his confidence than giving him the top-pairing minutes he deserves at the highest level in hockey?

I don’t think so.

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All in all, any opportunity an athlete has to represent his or her country is a special one. I’ll look forward to watching Jokiharju quarterback the Finn’s power-play while making a deep run into the tournament.

But at the end of the day, Bowman better be certain that what he did was best for the future of this promising young talent, not for his ego.

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