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Analysis

Blackhawks: Still Trying to Make Sense of the Retool-Rebuild-Reload(?)

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is interviewed during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is interviewed during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Blackhawks announced a retool during 2018, then a rebuild in 2020, and now a reload in 2021.

I’m sure that I am not the only one who is confused about the Blackhawks ending their “rebuild” a season after it was announced. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are getting older by the day but they agreed to go along with the remaining years of the project (as far as I know). Adding players like Lukas Reichel in 2020, then one of Cole Sillinger, Sebastian Cossa, or Jesper Wallstedt was expected in 2021 to jumpstart the prospect pool.

Patrick Kane is the franchise superstar, that’s no question. But the idea of trading him was circling around a while last season to fully rebuild. The haul for Kane would have brought in multiple first-round selections and one or two high-end prospects.

But that didn’t seem right as a player of Kane’s caliber usually stays with the franchise for the entirety of their career. That’s a respect thing. If a star who contributed so much to the franchise, they ought to keep him for as long as he desires to… As long as he can play effective hockey.

With that said, it is done that way because it is predicted that the team would be competitive for at least more than 75% of the player’s career. Horrible contracts and unexpected departures would lead to a plummet, such as Corey Crawford’s concussions and Marian Hossa’s surprise retirement. They added the horrible contracts too early, and COULD see guys like Kirby Dach and Alex Debrincat out of their budget in the coming years.

Now, I still don’t really understand the move by Stan Bowman for Seth Jones, not so much the TRADE, but the CONTRACT and term. If he waited, Dougie Hamilton would have been available for nothing but 9 million dollars. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, but it’s hard to understand Stan Bowman’s plan (if he has one). The team looked to be a few pieces away from the playoffs last year, but the REBUILD has to be seen through.

An impactful group of young players on bridge deals really are more effective than a group of overpaid veterans. The 2009-2014 Blackhawks were as competitive and as good as they were thanks to the bargains of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews bridge deals, with Duncan Keith’s contract being among the best in the NHL. Yes, they needed that veteran presence to take them over the hump in Marian Hossa and John Madden, but the Blackhawks already have the leadership.

Then IF they decided to hire Gerard Gallant instead of the New York Rangers, I would have more hope for the team. But Jeremy Colliton, and his entire staff, are still hired. I really like Marc Crawford as he is a proven winner with the Colorado Avalanche, but I really don’t like the rest. Unless significant improvement is made, the franchise could be in a retool-rebuild for almost the next decade (Seth Jones’ 9.5 mil is for 8 years).

The Blackhawks, mainly Stan Bowman, just rushed the process, and rushing processes never seem to age very well in the NHL. The franchise should have taken Alabama’s Nick Saban’s saying of “trust the process to success”, then trust the process to stay successful. The Blackhawks did not trust the process, and they ignored a very significant part of the process to success. Now, they may pay for it. It is playoffs or bust time, and there is no long leash for anyone in the front office.

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