No matter how hard we try to forget, everyone remembers the Chicago Blackhawks playoff series against the Nashville Predators in 2017.
The Blackhawks looked like a team destined for another long playoff run after finishing the season with the best record in the west. It looked like business as usual for a team that could wait to turn it on when the games were meaningful come playoff time, but this was not the same year.
The Predators drastically outperformed Chicago, and it led to the ‘Hawks being swept for the first time in the Toews and Kane era. After that dreadful performance, Stan Bowman promised change, and his changes resulted in the end of the Blackhawks dynasty.
June 23rd, 2017, was the day the Blackhawks were hosting the NHL draft in Chicago. Picked to be the host a year in advance, many thought maybe the Stanley Cup would be in the city as well, that did not end up being the case. I mention this day in particular because Stan Bowman went out and made two big trades that day.
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Niklas Hjalmarsson is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, one of the best defensive-defensemen the Blackhawks have ever had, and an animal when it comes to blocking shots. Yet, on June 23rd Stan Bowman thought that it was in the team’s best interest to trade Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy.
That one trade is not too bad on its own as Murphy was a lot younger and seemed to have a lot of hope to develop into a top blueliner for the Blackhawks, but Bowman also made another trade that day.
We are never going to see an offensive duo as good as Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. During their two years together, Kane played some of his best hockey of his career. Both were having enough fun to get Panarin to take a two-year bridge deal to extend his time in Chicago, and after that deal was made, Panarin was sent packing to Columbus.
The Panarin/Saad trade was not good for the Blackhawks by any means. While Saad was involved in a good trade for the ‘Hawks when we sent him packing, this one was a complete disappointment. Panarin was on a completely different level than Saad and was worth a lot more. The Blackhawks should have been able to secure a first-round draft pick or at least something alongside Saad besides a fifth-round pick and Anton Forsberg.
Those two trades instantly ended the Blackhawks dynasty. It showcased the rupture in Coach Q and Stan Bowman, as Coach Q reportedly stormed out of the United Center on draft day. It also put the Blackhawks in a position with long term contracts for players that they might not want to keep.
The NHL draft was never something Blackhawks fans had to worry about. During our championship years, we often did not even have a pick on the first day, and yet in 2017, we changed the direction of the franchise.
I am not saying the Blackhawks would still be competing for Cups right now if they did not go out and make those two over reactionary trades, but I am saying that the team would not have declined so quickly. Just another reason why Stan Bowman needs to be let go.