Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks should put their focus on the Rockford IceHogs

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Philipp Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Philipp Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Another game, another loss for the Blackhawks. Sunday came and went, and the perspective on Chicago’s season became a little bleaker. So far Chicago’s top brass has given their support to beleaguered head coach Jeremy Colliton, but there’s a chance that could change. Until it does, the best thing the team could do would be to focus on their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

As much as the Chicago Blackhawks need to get it together as an organization, the team needs to reconsider its future. The players of tomorrow should be in Rockford logging big minutes to prepare them for their NHL careers. Since the wheels appear to have completely come off the Blackhawks, load up the IceHogs and focus on tomorrow. This is doubly true since the Blackhawks own the IceHogs.

Send players like Philip Kurashev and Ian Mitchell down to Rockford and have them contribute to the IceHogs.  Chicago isn’t doing well, and it might be more meaningful for them to be playing in another environment. Kurashev was scratched recently, and he’d be much better off playing in Rockford. It doesn’t serve a purpose for him to be in the press box. Same for Ian Mitchell.

According to the official stats from the NHL, Mitchell played a total of 9:15. That was the least among the defenseman. The only player with less ice time among the rest of the players, Kurashev with 8:32. What’s the point? Both of these guys are expected to be NHLers sooner rather than later, but playing them less than 10 minutes a night isn’t going to help anyone. Send them back down to Rockford and let them stay there, and not out of spite.

You want another forward, call up Brett Connolly. Need to add a blueliner, just have the prospects do the Rockford shuffle and call them up/send them down as the season progress, but keep them based with the IceHogs. Developing younger players has to be central from this point on.

Lukas Reichel is already there, as are a lot of other prospects, including Nicolas Beaudin. Just as with Mitchell and Kurashev, both players are projected to be a long-term part of Chicago’s future. However, it’s understood that it’s beneficial for them to be in Rockford playing in all situations, as opposed to playing 10 or fewer minutes a night in the NHL.

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It’s still October, but Chicago is so bad right now that there doesn’t appear to be a clear path forward. People are calling for significant changes to be made, but there’s no guarantee of what the effect would be. The best thing Chicago could do is double down on their commitment to rebuilding the team. What they have in the NHL right now is a disaster, and this season projects to be long and frustrating.

One of the major changes Chicago needs to make is rethinking what it wants to commit to. At this point, the product suiting up for the NHL is dreadful. Chicago should consider loading up Rockford and moving on from this season, even if it seems early to do that. The Blackhawks need a clear plan and must stick with it. That plan has to be focused on the IceHogs.

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