When the 19th overall selection came up, I was calm, collected, and confident. Oliver Moore was the obvious choice and therefore Kyle Davidson made the obvious call here and selected the speedy center.. This wasn't always the case. Before the 21-22 season, it was more like, "oh boy, here we go again".
It was Oct 26th, 2021 when Stan Bowman finally "stepped down / resigned". A day later the NHL released the entirety of their fines admist the findings into the Blackhawks' management of covering up an ongoing sexual assault involving former employee Bradley Aldrich. Was it enough? No, not even close. We should have lost draft capital, been fined heavier, and had lifetime bans for all those involved without the option to reapply for reinstatement.
Long story short, being free of Stan Bowman (and all that were involved in the coverup)..... feels good. It feels like Blackhawks independence. Free from worry. In Kyle Davidson's short tenure I have yet to think, "well he is reaching here". He has also amassed a staff of scouts and management that are all on the same page in terms of what type of player the team needs. Kevin Korchinski, Frank Nazar, Sam Rinzel, Connor Bedard, and Oliver Moore have been the results thus far. While early, it appears that a new era of Blackhawks hockey looks bright.
My draft memories of Stan Bowman are numerous... Ok, why would we take 2 straight under-sized D in the 1st? It's got to be Byram here right? Wow, Dawson Mercer fell to us this is amazing! Nolan Allan in the 1st? While those are recent drafts and in no way a reflection of the players we did select, they were drafts in which the obvious choice was never made. Then there are the inclusion trades that didn't seem necessary, even with cap pressure, like Teuvo Teravainen included with Bryan Bickell. While a cap move, we got back just a 2nd and a 3rd for those players. Trading Nick Schmaltz and Phillip Danault before they were able to fully mature into their games..
No, gone are those days. Meanwhile, Kyle Davidson is constantly acquiring future 1st and 2nd round picks. Davidson is also making hard decisions at the height of some players values (Hagel, DeBrincat, Dach) at a time when the Blackhawks arrow was not on it's way up. This is a difficult thing to do, move on from young 20s talent, but ultimately lining up a players timeframe with a full roster is the correct move here.
I keep going back to draft night and pick #19 comes up. Confidently Kyle Davidson walks to the podium and announces the obvious selection. Confidently I sit back and watch, knowing that we have a GM that knows what he is doing. While we can't run from the horrific and unforgetable transgressions of the past, we can attempt to move forward knowing we have leadership in place we can rely upon now.
Oct 26th, 2021, Blackhawks Independence Day.