The Blackhawks Are Loading Up The IceHogs To Get Fans Back In the Stands
Now that the Blackhawks are in full control over the IceHogs, they have some issues to address. They have an over-aged facility, and 4 straight years of declining attendance (and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic). If the ‘Hawks want to make a go of the IceHogs as a viable money-maker for the franchise, they need to get fan excitement back up to a higher level to get people to show up for games.
As I mentioned here, if I were Stan Bowman, I would be looking at moving the IceHogs to a location closer to the city, where my rabid Blackhawks fan base has easier access to attend games. And I would work hard to improve the gameday experience for fans, as well as upgrade the product on the ice.
Adding all of this talent to the F group could be an effort to make the IceHogs a contender for the Calder Cup as AHL Champion. Players like Phillip Kurashev, Henrik Borgstrom, Lukas Reichel, Mike Hardman, Evan Barratt, Mackenzie Entwistle, and Reese Johnson form a pretty solid core to go with the young players already in Rockford. That could be a pretty dynamic group. Add in Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell starting the season on defense in Rockford, and you have a lot of reasons to go see a game.
Their goaltending should be solid with Arvid Soderblom, Cale Morris, and whichever goalie they keep between Delia and Subban to compete for time in net. This is a team that has every reason to be a solid contender.
So what is Stan Bowman doing by adding all of these Forwards to the organization? At minimum, he is addressing a perceived lack of talent at F in the ‘Hawks organization that has been an area of concern for a few years, especially with all the premium draft picks spent on defense in the last several years.
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At best, he is working to set the ‘Hawks up for a long-term, sustainable pipeline from Rockford to Chicago, that will really get going in 2022-2023 and beyond.