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Mediocre hockey was not the answer for the Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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When the Chicago Blackhawks used the word rebuild in a memo just last week, there was a lot to discuss the topic. With a little more time to reflect, I have just one more thing to say on the Chicago Blackhawks move.

Being a middle-tier team is not a definition of success in the NHL. While anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs, being a team that sneaks into the playoffs will not get the Chicago Blackhawks far.

I was okay with the team’s message from last week, only because the Blackhawks finally accepted they were not at the top of their game anymore. When Chicago fired Joel Quenneville, the management still tried to persuade fans that they were a playoff team. Well, that message has changed.

It has been frustrating to see the Blackhawks sit at the bottom of the central division while actually trying to compete. I mean, if the team came out and said they were working on a little bit of a rebuild, then being at the bottom of the division would be alright. However, Chicago has been sitting at the bottom while trying to convince themselves that they still had the pieces to win.

I am sure it was frustrating for the players the past few years to have to answer questions after every game about what the team missed that night, or do they think they can get a stretch of wins going. Eventually, I think it was tougher for the players and coaches to believe their own message: they have to put together a win streak and see what happens.

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Sure the Chicago Blackhawks made the playoffs this year. But that playoff trip comes with a little asterisk next to it. Chicago was in seventh place in the central division before the pause. They had a record of 32-30-8 and were well on their way to missing the playoffs for the third year in a row. I hand it to the Blackhawks that they managed to top Edmonton, and I was worried that Blackhawks management would read too much into those five games and continue to try and sneak into the playoffs and see what happens.

Now the Blackhawks are accepting where they sit in the NHL and are trying to get back to the top of their game once again. The ‘Hawks could have been like the Wild, one of the teams that are always good but not great, but now Chicago is choosing to take a step back to take a giant leap forward sometime in the next few years.

The Blackhawks are better off right now than they were a year ago because, luckily, the future is starting to look brighter as the ‘Hawks continue to add the bricks to their next championship team.

I know I am optimistic that this all works out in Chicago’s favor within the next three or four years. However, mediocre hockey was never going to be the answer to a group of fans with “One Goal” still engraved in their minds.

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