Would You Rather? Blackhawks Edition:

Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

Would You Rather? Blackhawks Edition:

KALAMAZOO, MI - Since the 2008 season, the Chicago Blackhawks have made questionable decisions and have had countless moments that have left fans speechless. In this article, I will ask "would you rather" questions that have been boggling the minds of Blackhawks fans for years.

Would you rather have kept Nick Schmaltz or Ryan Hartman?:
Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman were both first-round picks by the Chicago Blackhawks. Schmaltz, a 2014 first-round pick, and Hartman, a 2013 first-round pick, were solid forward pieces for the Chicago Blackhawks during the mid-late 2010s.
In Schmaltz's three years with Chicago, he totaled 29 goals and 62 assists for 91 points in 162 games. Hartman spent four years with the Blackhawks totaling 27 goals and 30 assists for 57 points in 141 games.
When Hartman was traded to the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks received Victor Ejdsell, a 2018 first-round pick (Nicolas Beaudin), and a 2018 fourth-round pick (Phillip Kurashev).
Kurashev is the only player of that trade who is still a part of the Blackhawks and has become a mainstay in the Hawks lineup. In 200 games with the Blackhawks, Kurashev has totaled 26 goals and 44 assists for 70 points. In Kurashev's last 5 games with the Hawks, he's totaled 1 goal and 3 assists.
Nick Schmaltz was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in 2018 for forwards Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome. Neither Perlini nor Strome are with the Blackhawks in 2023, but Strome had a significant impact with the Hawks. In 4 years with the Blackhawks, Strome totaled 60 goals and 94 assists for 154 points in 225 games.
So, if you had a chance to keep one of these players, who would you have chosen to stay in Chicago?

Would you rather have beaten Detroit in 2009 or Los Angeles in 2014?:
The Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings are the only two teams that beat Chicago in the Western Conference Finals during the Kane & Toews era.
Detroit dispatched the Hawks in 5 games but lost in the finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. LA beat Chicago in 7 games in 2014 after Chicago forced a game 7 after being down 3-1 in the series. LA would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 5 games against the New York Rangers.
So what matchup would you have wanted to see more? A young Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews vs a young Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Or would you rather have seen an original six-matchup between the Hawks and the Rangers with a prime Henrik Lundqvist?

Would you rather have kept Alex Debrincat or traded him to Ottawa?:
During the 2022 offseason, Chicago traded star forward Alex Debrincat to the Ottawa Senators for a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick. The 2022 first-round pick turned into defenseman Kevin Korchinski and the second-round pick turned into forward Paul Ludwinski.
Korchinski joined the Hawks this year and has played well. The 19-year-old has 1 goal and 4 assists through 15 games totaling 19 minutes of icetime a game.
Ludwinski, a 19-year-old playing for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, has had a great couple of years in the OHL tallying 98 points in 132 games.
Alex Debrincat was a star in Chicago as he totaled 160 goals and 147 assists for 307 points in 368 games. He also hit the 40-goal mark twice for the Hawks in 2018-2019 and 2021-2022. He is currently playing for the Detroit Red Wings and has had a great start to the year with 11 goals and 6 assists in 17 games.
So would you have kept Debrincat and paid him what Detroit is paying him at $7.8 million per year or would you trade him and keep the prospects that Chicago received?

Would you rather have Artemi Panarin stay in Chicago or see the Hawks beat Vancouver in 2011?
Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane were a match made in heaven for the Blackhawks.
In Panarin's rookie campaign during the 2015-2016 season, he took home the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie with 30 goals and 47 assists in 80 games.
In the same season, Patrick Kane notched 46 goals and 60 assists for 106 points and took home the Art Ross trophy as the league's top point scorer as well as the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
These two would play on a line together for only two years as back-to-back first-round playoff exits forced former Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman to trade Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg.
The Blackhawks have made it to the playoffs just once (2020 bubble playoffs) since Artemi Panarin was traded so you have to beg the question of how many playoff births the Hawks could've had if the Breadman stayed in Chicago.

April 26th, 2011. Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks. Game 7. Overtime. After being down 3-0 in the series against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blackhawks stormed back to win the next 3 games and force a game 7 overtime.
The Hawks would've been the 4th team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0 but unfortunately, luck favored Vancouver that night.
In what might be the most gut-wrenching loss of the decade for Chicago, a Chris Campoli turnover led to Vancouver's Alex Burrows walking in and firing the series-winning goal over Crawford's shoulder 5:22 into the overtime.
If the Hawks were to steal that series from Vancouver and be the 4th team in history to reverse sweep, could they have done what the 2014 LA Kings had done and gone on and won the cup? Would the city of Chicago see its first repeated championship since the Michael Jordan Bulls days?
That series will forever haunt my and many other Hawks fans' dreams and keep us wondering "What if they won?".