Yesterday was an embarrassing day for the Chicago Blackhawks. Holding a town hall meeting to be transparent on where the team is heading turned into a double down on irresponsibility in handling the Kyle Beach situation. Chairman Rocky Wirtz would not answer Mark Lazerus' question about how the organization would protect players in the future. He simply shut it down and was overtly agitated.
For a team trying to build transparency and credibility with a skeptical fanbase and potential GM candidates, this could not have gone worse. Wirtz' apology a few hours later was hollow and did little to gain forgiveness from fans. He has clearly lost the room.
Although the town hall turned into a fiasco of deniability from Wirtz, the initial purpose of the meeting was be transparent about the search for a new GM. That won't happen for a while, so I'm a little ahead of myself here with a coach article, but based on what happened yesterday, I believe that John Tortorella should be the next coach of the Blackhawks
I don't think anyone would argue against Tortorella's success in the league. He has a record of 673-541-37. He took a struggling team in Tampa and won a Stanley Cup. He changed the culture in Columbus and led them to the playoffs four straight years. The knock against Tortorella is that he is a wildcard at post game conferences, a little too fiery and struggles catering to superstars in the league.
John Tortorella's brutal honesty is just what the Blackhawks need. He doesn't pull punches. What you see is what you get. Not only are the fans looking for transparency with management, but also with coaching. For a few years now, the on-ice product has been subpar, yet the message is that the Hawks just need to play within the system, do the little details and everything would be fine. The fans could see the product on the ice wasn't going to improve in that scenario and had no confidence in coaching.
Enter Tortorella. He will demand better play. He will sit those players who don't deliver on the ice. Seth Jones is one of a few players who will be on this team for the foreseeable future. He got the message from Torts in Columbus and improved his play. In an ESPN article Q and A with Greg Wyshnyski in 2018, Jones recounts a time when he gave up some goals to Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane in the first period of a game. He didn't play in the second period. The message was received. Jones credits Tortorella with improving his game and changing the culture in the locker room.
If one concern of Tortorella is dealing with superstars, that won't be a concern for the Blackhawks. The only so-called stars on this team are Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Seth Jones. He already has Jones sold, and I would imagine the other two will be happy for any success Torts would bring. Plus, they have one year on their contracts so it's not a huge concern. Alex DeBrincat is a burgeoning young star, but is so hard-nose. I would imagine, Torts would love his style of play.
When management blows up this team, the young players will need direction and a steady hand. They will need a coach who knows the game and demands a lot from his players. They will also need to be held accountable. There is no one available who is better suited for this position than John Tortorella.
John Tortorella should be the next coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. He is transparent and strong enough to stand up for what he believes and he will stand up for his players. Right now, the Blackhawks need his old school approach.