With how the Blackhawks have it tough to be able to call up a blueliner like Jokiharju, why don’t they just move Gustafsson to forward? He pinches up in the play, leaving a hole in the blue line a lot. – NickS Blackhawks Talk (@TalkNicks)
It’s funny that this question was asked basically right before The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus posted a column about this exact topic. Despite this, I’m going to discuss it anyway.
I’ve seen this proposal to move Erik Gustafsson to forward all over the Twitter-sphere when I tweet game, and I get why people might want that. He’s very offensive-minded and makes egregious defensive errors so often we want to rip out hair out. Other defensemen have played at forward, as well. And those guys are big-name players such as Chicago Blackhawks legend Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns. Sometimes, coaches will use 11 forwards and seven defensemen and move a blueliner to the wing.
I can’t see this working though. There’s no way the Blackhawks are going to ask a 27-year-old pro to change positions just because he’s faulty on defense. And really, trying to argue that he switches to forward simply based on the way he’s played this season. The whole team has been bad!
Even Gustafsson himself said he could never play forward, even though he thinks it might be fun:
"“Nobody wants to be back in your own end all the time, it’s not fun,” he said, laughing. “But forward? No. I don’t think I could do it. And I don’t think anyone wants to see that.” – Erik Gustafsson from Mark Lazerus’s article, “Erik Gustafsson at forward? What could possibly go wrong?”"
Could he pull it off? Yeah, most likely. But forwards play a different game than defensemen do, and flipping everything around when he’s this far into his career would be challenging. And, despite being an offensive threat, Gustafsson doesn’t like going deep into the zone and behind the other team’s net. He enjoys the space he has as a defenseman to rush up the ice and find passing lanes that most forwards might not see.
Is it a fun idea? Sure. Don’t expect this to happen, though. The Chicago Blackhawks don’t plan on switching him to forward.
How do you fix the defense? – Paul (@mrpchvz)
The draft is the main way the Chicago Blackhawks will solve their defensive issues. We’ve already seen the front office address their defensive issues by drafting players such as Henri Jokiharju, Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell, Chad Krys, etc.
It will take time, too. Don’t expect things to automatically be fixed for next season. Four out of the five players I just mentioned above were drafted in 2017 and 2018. They’re going to attempt to make the roster out of camp, of course, but they need time to develop.
Approximately how many miles does the team fly/drive in a season? – Here We Go (@1Barbie)
This is a great question and something I feel like no one asks. We don’t know for sure, but they definitely travel a lot.
Based on their central location in the country and how far away some teams are from them – especially in the Western Conference – I’d assume they rack up around 40,000-45,000 miles a season for travel purposes.
That’s how many miles I put on my first car in four years, in case you want a comparison.
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Thank you for all of your questions, Chicago Blackhawks fans! Our next bi-weekly mailbag tweet will be sent out next Friday! Let’s go, ‘Hawks!