NHL Division Realignment Would Prove Challenging for the Blackhawks
By Jimmy Lynch
The Chicago Blackhawks will have a rough go next season, no matter what, and a division realignment might not make things easier.
The Blackhawks have finished at the bottom of the Central Division twice in the past three years, and they have only made the playoffs one time due to the qualifying round this past postseason. Things looked like they were on the way up; that all changed with the moves Stan Bowman made the past few months.
So, Chicago is going to have to work extra hard this season. It probably won’t end up with a postseason bid, but it still could feature some fun and competitive hockey. This new divisional format offers Chicago some intriguing scenarios fans will want to watch this season.
The Central Division usually consists of the following teams: Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Nashville Predators. However, due to the pandemic and the different restrictions that will come with the following season, Chicago might be with a different batch of teams in a realigned division.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has reported that the ‘Hawks new division could consist of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning. That division is drastically more challenging than Chicago’s current environment.
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Chicago would still be in the same division as the Nashville Predators and the St Louis Blues. Those two teams are consistently competitive in the Central, so Chicago would still be stuck with top-level talent. However, there are some other top additions to Chicago’s potential new division.
The Pittsburgh Penguins might not be as good as they were a few years ago, but they are still good, and they still have Sidney Crosby. The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off winning the Stanley Cup. While the Florida Panthers features Chicago’s old coach Joel Quenneville. Whom I am sure wouldn’t mind beating his former team night after night.
Honestly, this proposed division only features one team Chicago would beat: Detroit, and even that would be up in the air. While Detroit did have a record-breaking lousy season last year, they are still a rival to Chicago, and rivals show up to play game in and game out. If this potential division takes shape, it would force Chicago and Detroit to compete more often, which would be fun for fans, but bad for two teams that drastically need time to rebuild.
Another exciting team in the mix with the ‘Hawks with this new division – the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus has been one of my favorite teams outside of Chicago for a long time. They are a great defensive team and have a great structure. While they might not have the top stars, John Tortorella does an excellent job coaching the roster to play a team-first game.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a coach like Tortorella in Chicago someday unless Jeremy Colliton surprises us and turns this team around. Columbus is a better team than Chicago, but mostly because of their excellent defensive structure and how relentless they are on the backcheck.
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What do you think of Chicago’s potentially division for next season? While they might not be the worst team in the division thanks to Detroit, they definitely would be far out of the playoffs with so many top-level teams. At least Chicago would have top tier talent to play against game in and game out.