The Blackhawks have something to prove heading into the 2021 season
By Jimmy Lynch
The Blackhawks motto used to be “One Goal,” but then the team changed it to “All For One.” I believe neither sums up this new season.
This is the golden year of opportunity for the Blackhawks and their roster. Expectations are not high for this team as they continue to embark on a rebuild that probably began a few years ago when missing the playoffs for the first time. With teams writing off the ‘Hawks and focusing elsewhere, Chicago can focus on their own roster and do their best to take the necessary steps to move in a successful direction.
So many players on this Blackhawks roster have something to prove. In fact, everyone in the organization has something to prove. From the top-down, no one should be complacent within the organization, which is a good thing heading into the 2021 season.
Chicago is coming off of a season where they finished last in the Central Division. While they did have a decent showing in the qualifying round and the playoffs, I do not think that was an indication of success to come this next season.
A lot of specific people have something to prove this coming year. Let’s break them down into a few different groups.
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The Blackhawks rookies heading into this year have been getting praised as potential big-name pieces on this roster for years to come. Ian Mitchell and Pius Suter are both going to get an opportunity this coming season. So is one of the Blackhawks many young goalies vying for Corey Crawford‘s old job.
Ian Mitchell and Pius Suter need to prove they can be the future faces of this team and Dach, Kubalik, and Boqvist. While the goalies need to show where they fit within this organization, and if Blackhawks fans should be hoping that Drew Commesso can be NHL ready sooner rather than later.
All of the Chicago Blackhawks rookies will get some opportunity this season; that is what a rebuild or retool is all about. If any of the ‘Hawks young players find a way to separate themselves from the rest, they will get a chance with this team.
If Chicago gets back into the playoffs in a few years, they will need their current core group of champions to be still playing at a high level. If Chicago can still have a productive Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Andrew Shaw in a few seasons, then this rebuild won’t be as bad as we think.
Brent Seabrook also has a lot to prove this season. Coming off of surgeries this offseason, if he can come back better than ever, then maybe he actually can be a force in the Blackhawks top four. I am actually starting to think Seabrook might be able to come back better than ever, especially after hearing that he has started working with Ian Mack, Patrick Kane’s trainer.
The Wirtz family has put a lot of faith in Stan Bowman. Faith that might need to be reconsidered, especially depending on how this season goes. A rebuild takes time, but Chicago does have some of the young pieces starting to join their roster, so hopefully, we will see some of the hope and promise for the future out on the ice.
The pressure to prove yourself is also prominent with Jeremy Colliton, who is hoping to get a contract extension sooner rather than later. The one thing I found really interesting when listening to Colliton on all of the podcasts the past few weeks is how open he was about some of his decisions and the move when it came to joining the Blackhawks.
Colliton has a full season to prove his worth within this organization, and I hope he can be successful because that means the Blackhawks are taking steps in the right direction. Changing coaches often is a nuisance for teams, which can cost Chicago another year of a rebuild. So, let’s hope Colliton can succeed!
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The Rising Stars:
Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome both took a few steps back last season. They both have a lot to prove next season. So does Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach. Dach had a great rookie season, but he needs to take another step forward. Kubalik was given a nice contract after his rookie year, where he put up 30 goals. Now he needs to show that he can do it again and more.
Blackhawks fans have seen a lot of rookies fall into a sophomore slump, something Chicago can not see from their top young players this coming season. These rising stars will get prominent positions on this Blackhawks team as Chicago tries to kind of bridge the team from the Toews and Kane era to this new era. Hopefully, these players are up for the challenge.
This is an era of so many fresh opportunities for the Blackhawks. Hopefully, some of these players will prove they are the real deal with this team.