Chicago Blackhawks: The Rebuild Needs an Identity

Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Lightning are a fast, skilled, relentless team while the St. Louis Blues are a big, strong, physical team. These two teams have their identity and have drafted and built their current rosters with their identity and vision in mind. The Chicago Blackhawks need to follow suit and figure this out fast if they want to still have an effective Patrick Kane on their roster if/when they return to contention.

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a situation where they still don’t have an identity or a plan moving forward. It’s time to trade whoever they can for draft picks and prospects as they won’t get to the playoffs this year. They also need to figure out what they want from their team in the future, whether it be a big, strong team or a fast, skilled team.

To find success in the NHL, unfortunately, you have to be either the biggest and strongest, or the fastest and the most skilled. You can’t be both. You also need to focus on what you want to be so that you can draft players that fit that playstyle and not waste high draft picks on players who won’t.

This Blackhawks “rebuild” is a complete joke. “Rebuilders” don’t fill their rosters with veterans to take spots from the young guys. “Rebuilders” would have started this two years ago when they had a couple of horrendous seasons. “Rebuilders” would be bringing in draft capital at every turn, and fire their former GM, not promote him to take control of every aspect of their hockey operations.

The Chicago Blackhawks need to find an identity to rebuild towards if they want to be a contender any time soon.

If Ken Holland can be replaced as GM of the Detroit Red Wings, Stan Bowman can, too, be replaced. Ownership just has to get over the “nostalgia” of their three Stanley Cups because the way this team is going, they won’t get anywhere near another Stanley Cup for a while.

The Chicago Blackhawks have important decisions to make that they should have already made a while ago. They have promising young guys in their prospect pool and they should work on bringing even more in.

Teams like the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings were contending at the same time as the Chicago Blackhawks, and they now have the best prospect pools in the league. The Chicago Blackhawks have a potential superstar in Kirby Dach, he’s injured, yes, but he’s only 20 and keeps getting better. They have to focus on the next generation and set Dach up to succeed when Toews and Kane retire.

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From the prospects they drafted already, they are probably aiming to be a fast, skilled, relentless team. Kirby Dach can hold his own physically, but he’s not effective in the game bashing someone into the boards. Alex Debrincat is a fast, skilled forward who can shoot and score in multiple ways. Dylan Strome is not a physical player by any means, but he has high offensive upside. Dominik Kubalik is a fast, effective player (GIVE HIM MORE ICE TIME) and Pius Suter looks to be no different when it comes to playstyle. The Blackhawks have to keep this in mind as they build their new team through the draft and trades.

By the end of this season, there should not be any players (who are moveable) on the roster if they are older than 26 and not named Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews (though I wouldn’t blame them for wanting to leave). Stan Bowman signed players like Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg and acquired Nikita Zadorov in the offseason, and these three players should be traded by the trade deadline.

The ‘Hawks also need to bring in young prospects and listen to the feedback from their superstars on the prospects they feel will do well in the NHL. From there they should look at the prospects who fit their vision that they want to keep, and, if they’re lucky, sign a superstar as their final touch who fit the way they want to play the game (like Marian Hossa in 2009-10).

Currently, the Chicago Blackhawks have no identity other than “they’re bad”. The Detroit Red Wings were bad and brought in Steve Yzerman, who has a plan and a vision for the team he wants them to become, just like he did with Tampa Bay, to lead their rebuild. If the Chicago Blackhawks want to do this right, they will tell the fan base what their vision for the team of the future is (other than “we want to be competitive”) and focus on getting them there with someone who knows how to do so.

In other words, Rocky Wirtz has to know that the team he owns now isn’t going to succeed unless he makes major personnel changes. He has to find someone who will assert themselves and make the hard decisions to bring the team back. It looks like the ‘Hawks are turning back to the trash chute they were back in the early 2000s, and it’s all on Rocky if they do. Usually, when a GM tells their superstars “You’re paid to play hockey, not manage a hockey team” that should usually be a red flag, especially when the GM doesn’t do one, and currently sucks at the other (you can choose).

If they do this right and draft well, the team should be back as the fast, skilled, and relentless team they used to be in around three to five years. If they don’t, then they won’t get anywhere for the next ten.