By now, the news that Kyle Davidson is going to be the General Manager for the Blackhawks has filtered throughout sports media outlets. The interim tag that had been placed next to his name previously has been removed, and now it's finally time to get down to business. Hopefully, Davidson has a strong stomach, because there's a lot of work to do and the results need to be measurable.
Its's been years since the Chicago Blackhawks were a good team, and it pains me to even be typing that. We fans have been promised that things would "turn around" at many different points. Perhaps now that a thorough house-cleaning has been effected, all that change will actually happen, but when? That's kind of the real question at this point.
Davidson has never been a GM before, and now he'll not only be in charge of the roster, but pretty much everything that pertains to Blackhawks hockey that isn't the business side of things. After an absolutely wretched season, both on and off the ice, Chicago has needed to make some significant changes as soon as possible. Those changes have begun, and hopfully this means things will start actually turning around for real. This is a rebuild. Davidson has said it himself, and he certainly understands the implication of using that terminology.
Stan Bowman, Davidson's predecessor, used similar language. Look where that got us. However, at some point, there will need to be quantifiable results now that a rebuild has been announced. Davidson so far hasn't been willing to put a timeline on anything, but there needs to be proof that the team is improving over the next several years. How about we get generous and give the new GM up to five years? Seems reasonable, right?
Why not less time? Its unrealistic to think that in three years or less the team is suddenly going to be lighting the world on fire. Chicago's only talented prospect that appears proven to succeed at the NHL is a teenager in the AHL. Patrick Kane is still an anchor for the team at 33-years-old. The organization can't build around Kane anymore, they need to transition away from relying on him. Who will be the next number one goalie? What's going on with the perpetually ineffective defense? Needless to say, there's work to do.
Is Davidson the right guy? Jonathan Toews seems to think so. Ben Pop from the Sun-Times got a pretty interesting quote from the captain on Davidson's new role as GM.
It's hard not to look at the state of the team and read between the lines of Toews' quote. Additionally, it's refreshing to hear this kind of statement about the team not previously having had a direction from a roster player.
How will be able to measure change over the next five years? An improved prospect pool? Top-tier (and young) prospects acquired from other teams? Absolutely slaying it in free agency? A mix of the three? Davidson's plan hasn't been made very clear, but he's at least acknowledged from top to bottom the team needs work. Three years from now, there should be enough changes to get an idea of whether or not the team is back on an upward swing. Five years from, it should obvious. Any longer than that and the team is just treading water. If after five years, the Blackhawks are still mired in mediocrity, then Davidson will need to be shown the door.
This is probably a fair timeline, up five years to prove positive changes are being implemented. A lot can happen in professional sports in five years, especially for a team that is committed to a particular course of action. If those changes don't start showing themselves after five years, then the team needs to find a new GM, again.