When the Blackhawks lost to the Golden Knights in the playoffs last year one of the common themes was that Chicago wasn’t big enough. This in part may have led-then General Manager Stan Bowman to acquire Nikita Zadorov. However, is size really that much of an impediment for Chicago?
Whether or not the Chicago Blackhawks are big enough was a critique of the team recently made by the Daily Herald’s John Dietz. This isn’t a new argument. People have debated a player’s size as much as they’ve debated everything else. The problem is that this argument doesn’t make sense, certainly not this season.
This year is about the rookies. Chicago said as much before the first puck was even dropped for 2020-21. The size of the team shouldn’t even be a consideration because Chicago was never planning on making a deep playoff run. If it happened, cool, but if the team had a rough season then it was to be expected.
That being said, how big should Chicago be, if it’s even all that important? James Mirtle at The Athletic parsed the numbers for every team in the league for the 2019-20 season. According to Mirtle,
Average height: 6 foot 1 inch (73.1 inches)
Average weight: 199.3 lbs
Does Chicago have players this size or bigger? Yes. Are there players on the team smaller than those measurements? Yes. At the end of the day, Dietz’s article seems to focus less on size and more on a team’s willingness to be physical, to play with an edge. Dietz may have a point on this one, but it has very little to do with size.
In fact, Chicago seemed so unwilling to engage in recent games, looking back at the last two against Tampa Bay in particular, that it’s worth considering whether or not the coaches specifically said, ” do not engage.” Against Florida, Chicago looked much more willing to get physical.
Chicago’s last two games haven’t looked like the Blackhawks haven’t had the physical presence they need to compete with every other team in the league. Size isn’t the issue here. Hockey’s a physical game, and everyone knows this.
Players need to come ready to fight for every inch of the ice, and the Blackhawks are no exception. This has little to do with how big and heavy a player is, rather it’s all about how they approach the game. Fortunately, this year is all about getting new players ice time, and Chicago has done that. The younger Blackhawks are learning what kind of fight is needed to grind out results in the NHL, and next year the team will probably look a bit different.