The Chicago Blackhawks had to mend relationships with their former stars thanks to how Rocky Wirtz’s father ran the team, and if the front office isn’t careful, they might follow a similar path.
Things were not always perfect between the organization and Chicago’s former generation of players – the now ambassadors. However frustrating the past was, this generation has been better. The Rocky Wirtz era of the Chicago Blackhawks has been a story of success so far.
In the past the Blackhawks did not offer their top guys big contracts, instead, they would trade stars away for unknowns. The way Bill Wirtz ran the Blackhawks left former players upset, and it also frustrated the fans. Now, it seems like the team is entering a similar era.
The negotiations for a new contract between Corey Crawford and Stan Bowman left the former Blackhawks’ goalie devastated. Brandon Saad did not hear from the Blackhawks during the days leading to or after his trade from the team. Even Jonathan Toews has shared his frustration with how the Blackhawks are moving right now.
While hockey is a business and the Blackhawks organization can not always leave their star players happy, the way they are handling these changes has been disappointing. There is a right and wrong way to change a team’s roster, and this seems to be the wrong way.
Teams have rebuilt on the fly in the past. The Los Angeles Kings are currently doing it with stars like Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar still around, and New York is close to finishing their rebuild. Look no further than the New York Rangers on how to go about changing the direction of a team.
When the New York Rangers wrote a letter to their fans signaling changes would be made in the coming months it helped share the direction of the team. While not everyone believes that was the right move for their organization, they were transparent and open with their fans. Look at where they are today and how close they are to competing once again.
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New York is close to competing for the Stanley Cup again thanks to some top-level prospects added to the organization, and Artemi Panarin choosing New York as his new home. While Chicago might not be so fortunate and things might not go as quickly, it still can be done.
Maybe the Blackhawks think their fans won’t follow a team that is rebuilding, but I believe this city can get excited about prospects and the future team coming together the same as every other sport in this town. A rebuild is never a guarantee that it will work, and that is why trying to set a time table for it is so difficult.
Either way, Stan Bowman needs to be more transparent with the fans, and more importantly the core group of players, about the direction of this team. Trading Saad led fans to believe a rebuild was imminent, but then Bowman went out and signed more depth role players.
Chicago’s motto used to be “One Goal,” aka to win a championship every year. While that is a lofty goal for any team to have, it gave the fans the standards to root for. Now we need to see a new standard in Chicago.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the classiest franchises in the NHL for the past ten years. They have been an example of what success looks like, and a model to other franchises. But things change quickly in the NHL, and the Blackhawks have fallen off of the map. Let’s hope the team starts building up again soon.