The trade deadline is still a month away, but the rumours surrounding the Blackhawks are starting to spread. A first for Brandon Hagel? Is Patrick Kane available? It isn't clear how much of the trade speculation is just talk that will have any merit by the deadline, but it isn't just the players that are primed to be moved. What happens to the coaching staff once a new person is named as General Manager?
When Jeremy Colliton was replaced, the entire fan base for the Chicago Blackhawks breathed a collective sigh of relief, or at least that's what it felt like. The team was at the bottom of the league, and there didn't appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel. When King was named interim head coach, people were left scratching their heads, but there was a sense of optimism.
The team's metrics appeared to be on an upward trend right away. Chicago began winning games, and everything seemed right with the world. It wasn't like the Blackhawks had become Stanley Cup contenders with the coaching change, but the team responded to the changing of the guard, so to speak.
That was was all back in November, which for some reason feels like it was a million years ago. Here we all are now in mid-February discussing which player is going to be traded to which team at the deadline. The Blackhawks are going to be sellers rather than buyers this year. It's a deflating thought. Any hope that the team was even going to contend for a wildcard spot seems to have evaporated. It doesn't mean a postseason berth is gone, but no one really seems to think it's possible outside of the Blackhawks locker room. Let's look at consider this over the course of the season.
SinceseemsSince King took over, Chicago has a record of something like 17-15-5, has had, multiple losing streaks, and seem to have trouble finding consistency from one game to the next. Some of the upward trends have been certain players simply playing better. That's not necessarily on King, but it could be attributed to him.
It was King that came in and tried to loosen up the team, and it appears that he did, almost over night. Players began putting in better efforts, and the team began grinding out wins. All of this is positive, and it could have something to do with King's influence behind the bench.
There's the rub. Keep him in the captain's chair or not? If Chicago needed to make that decision by tomorrow, I'd say he should be replaced. The record alone is enough to justify that decision. King hasn't managed to save Chicago's season, and he's really just been a placeholder until he has a boss that can more fully determine the direction of the team. However, it would be hasty to make that decision now.
There's still a lot of hockey to be played, and while it seems far-fetched, Chicago could still make it to the playoffs. It's probably worth waiting to make the final decision. Sadly, we'll likely have to put those shreds of optimism aside.
The 2021-22 season is a bit of a lost cause. In almost every conceivable way the year did not go as planned. King hasn't proven himself to be a sensational coach, but he was always supposed to be the interim. I can't help but wonder if he wouldn't be asked to resume his duties as head coach in Rockford, now that he's had a year behind the bench in Chicago.
This would likely help the organization as a whole, but would King even want that kind of an arrangement? He probably wants to continue as a head coach, and why not? While it would be great to have his more evolved coaching experience back in Rockford, it's likely he'd want to stay on in the NHL rather than AHL, even as an assistant somewhere.
King has put in the time to deserve the chance at the highest level, and proven that he can be a positive influence, albeit in a limited capacity. It's just hard to imagine where the next GM doesn't come in and hire someone to really put their individual stamp on the rebuild. Assuming something like that happens, King will be shown the door for reasons that have nothing to do with his performance in Chicago. I would imagine King won't be with the team next year, although I hope he's back in Rockford. If he does parts ways with Chicago it would be understandable, and unlikely he'd be out of a job for very long.