The Blackhawks are the surprise team in the NHL, so the question stands: Who is responsible for their success?
The Chicago Blackhawks have found success quickly, making the NHL Central Division more of a “group of death” instead of the easiest division in the league. Patrick Kane is the NHL’s MVP, Kevin Lankinen is the Calder favorite, with Pius Suter and Philipp Kurashev close behind. Jeremy Colliton has developed multiple first-year players and this young, depleted team into a dark horse contender.
Having Patrick Kane on your roster is something the Blackhawks cannot take for granted. He has been the franchise cornerstone of the team since he arrived in 2008 and his play hasn’t slowed down since then. He is definitely a reason for the Blackhawks’ success, but, as we can saw in Edmonton and continue to see in Buffalo, one star player doesn’t make a team a contender.
Next is the goaltending, where Kevin Lankinen solidified his spot as the Blackhawks’ starter. He is sound in every aspect a goaltender needs to be solid in: positioning, awareness, athleticism, and poise. He lets in a bad goals on occasion, but he doesn’t let that bother him as the game progresses, as we saw in the 6-5 SO win over Columbus where a bad play on his part ended with the game-tying goal. He didn’t let that bother him and ended up stealing the game for the ‘Hawks.
Then, there’s the scouting department who discovered multiple gems through the draft: Philipp Kurashev, Ian Mitchell, Alex Debrincat, etc. Then those who they discovered elsewhere: Pius Suter, Brandon Hagel, Dominik Kubalik, and many others. The scouting department supplied the Blackhawks with the pieces they have now, but a team could have the great prospects but ruin their careers if the coaching staff doesn’t do a good job with them.
And last is the coaching staff, who I think is responsible for the Blackhawks’ success. The coaching staff ranges from Jeremy Colliton, who brings out the best in his young team on a consistent basis, to Jimmy Waite, who has done an amazing job with Kevin Lankinen. Like I said before, a player could have all the potential in the world, but if the coach doesn’t do a good job with them, they won’t go very far. This coaching staff has let the team go on a loose leash, giving the young guys chances, even after potential game-losing mistakes.
More from Blackhawk Up
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem
This gives the team confidence to not make the same mistakes and improves their play for the future. They don’t have any time to think about the mistake since they’re back on the ice within a minute, or a couple of minutes later. Adam Boqvist is an example of a player who looked shaky early in the season but has done much better as of late. This is thanks to the communication of the coaching staff, letting him know what he did wrong and what to do next time. With that information, the player goes back onto the ice and doesn’t make the same mistake.
To conclude, a team could have the best player in the world, and still fall short of success. They could have what they think are the best prospects, but those prospects will crash without proper development.
It takes a complete team effort to bring success, and this comes from the communication and development the team receives from the coaching staff. This team, despite a depleted roster, is the surprise team in the league, and with players like Alex Nylander, Brent Seabrook, Kirby Dach, and Jonathan Toews expected to come back sometime in the future, they are just going to get better.
Stan Bowman made a huge gamble by naming Jeremy Colliton the head coach, and I was among those who wanted him gone, but he has proved to be a great coach for this team. The coaching staff has done an amazing job with a roster filled with rookies and players under the age of 25. The players have bought in have done a great job completing Colliton’s ideas, and they are now a dark horse contender instead of having another high-percent chance in the draft lottery.