Chicago, IL — Hot time, summer in the city. Yes it is time for block parties, beach volleyball, outdoor concerts, sailing with the smell of tanning lotions and barbecue in the air. Should be a fun time right?
Well not necessarily if you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan. This past few days have been a whirlwind of changes.
It took me until now to process everything that happened and that is not even counting we had a draft here as well.
Several things you can say about the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman:
1) He is a man of his word
2) He’s all business first
3) He has the audacity of youth.
Stan Bowman vowed changes would come at his post season presser and boy he was not joking.
I think as fans we all knew changes would come down the pike just maybe not these moves which are either suicidal or genius. Only time will tell on this but I am leaning toward the latter.
Bowman I believe has said in the past he doesn’t get attached to players and he was not lying here either.
Stan reminds me of a professional assassin think Daniel Craig James Bond.
He is vigilantly ready if needed to swing his sword despite the cold breeze it may generate afterwards and the finality that ensues with potential repercussions.
I mean this as a compliment it takes a great deal of strength to do this for the greater good of team to put head before heart.
Us fans usually put heart before head but if there is any fan base that has had to get used to losing beloved players it’s Blackhawks fans.
I slowly am becoming detached not sure that is good or not. I try now to look at the business of hockey but I hate it.
He made moves which are bold and yet at the end of the day because of these changes we are still not sure and either is he how the results will be and that is what is scary – the unknown.
The team definitely got younger, faster, bigger and more like the direction the NHL is going in and for that you have to applaud him.
To lose three key players like Marian Hossa, Nik Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin is gut wrenching but when I take my heart (believe me that is difficult I love these guys) and look logically and on paper all of these moves make sense for a cap strapped team.
Let’s look at the forward situation first.
The first tumble down the rabbit hole of change came with the Marian Hossa announcement that he would not be playing this year due to medical reasons and I have to say I still have not wrapped my head around the fact we may have seen Hossa play hockey in a Blackhawks uni for the last time already.
With Hossa’s departure that leaves a huge void for a two-way playing winger and also someone who can play on the PK too which no doubt factored into the trade of Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad 2.0 excursion.
Believe me Hossa brings so much more than that and again not sure Saad or anyone can fill those skates or if it’s even fair to ask them to.
I adore Artemi Panarin but Saad brings a different look to the team.
He is more a two -way player w blazing speed as we have all seen and in this new NHL everything is about speed and North/South play inside the dots and getting to the net.
There is no question in my mind the Hawks will miss Panarin’s offensive brilliance and I wish him the best of everything, that boy was thrill for sure both on and off the ice.
Someone or a committee of someones need to fill this offence void and it’s a big one points wise and the chemistry that 2nd line had.
If I look logically Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad and whoever is with them will have a lot of pressure on them to help fill this void.
All eyes right now are on Toews who for two years has let’s be honest not been good for the contract he has. Yes I’m putting that out there as a challenge to 19 and his line because I know they can step up and will.
You have to think also part of dealing Panarin was the hope that Schmaltz, Hayden, Hartman, Jurco, Panik and I will throw in Alex DeBrincat and Graham Knott can come in and help fill the points production deficit when Hossa & Panarin left.
DeBrincat and Knott may need time in the AHL but don’t be surprised if they make the team straight out.
DeBrincat is small but that boy has grit in him and so much skill offensively.
Knott is just huge and fast and skilled if he can get to the net with his big frame goals will be scored I guarantee.
Now will they need time to ripen and grow of course that is also why the Hawks wisely hired Asst. Coach Don Granato. Boy he is going to be one busy man with all the youth and schooling them up.
I have no doubts whoever plays with Patrick Kane will be all the better for it.
It sounds like it will be Schmaltz who gets first crack all I can say is get Kane the puck and get to the net or open ice and just follow his lead and you’ll be fine. If you have a shot don’t think take it especially if it’s open to the net.
The other forward gotten in trades was Laurent Dauphin from AZ. Dauphin think Kruger/Danault like which one has to think will be Kruger’s replacement and see him gone as well for cap reasons.
Dauphin is a projected 3rd line Center with good speed and two – way play and a lot cheaper than Kruger. He will be a RFA next year and I believe his cap hit is only in the 750K range this year and he is only 22 yrs old and also plays on the PK.
The Hawks definitely got younger, bigger and faster and I see them doing even more moves with moving Kruger out and maybe bringing in another winger depending on how the kids above do or possibly another contract gets moved out so brace yourselves for more possible sword swings Hawks fans.
Now onto the Defense and boy this one is difficult.
Losing a warrior like Hammer is going to be hard to replace.
The Hawks some what started earlier with signing Kempny and Rutta from Czech Republic which I already said in another blog I really like these two guys but they will need to get NHL ready with the speed and skill that NHL shooters have again this is where Granato and Samuelsson will have a big impact.
The big factor will be Connor Murphy that was exchanged in the Hammer trade from Arizona.
His contract goes to 2022 so that was a big consideration here along with he is only 24 yrs old. He brings physicality and great skating ability also he has a great first pass out of the dzone.
What you lose though is a warrior who was a shot blocker, team player and tough physically. Murphy I believe has already had some health issues so we shall see how that plays out.
The Hawks are placing a lot on young Dmen but they have Keith and Seabrook to look to for guidance and I can’t think of two guys any better to learn from and get coached up from.
So the Hawks have lost in 72 hrs a HOF All Star Winger, a Gagarin Cup Champion/Calder Trophy Winger and a 3X Stanley Cup Defenseman yeah Chicago it is ok to cry, throw things or just get sick to your stomach.
What the Hawks gained remains to be seen and how it will all come together and the moves that are yet to be made.
One thing we know for sure is this team will certainly be a lot different from the one last year come October.
The good thing is they don’t need to really come together immediately its 2018 they need to but stay close in 2017 til they figure it all out.
Coaching up these young players will be the key this year for sure. Coach Quenneville and his staff are certainly going to earn their pay checks this year.
Change is a difficult thing for everyone and again it only reinforces to me one day what’s left of this core 2,7,19 & 88 will no longer be on the Hawks and will retire.
What we are seeing now is a slow transition and if you hated like me seeing 81, 72 & 4 gone it could be worse at least some of the core is still here and there is still a small window the next 2-3 years to get another Cup here at least that is what I am telling myself.
Did Stan Bowman make this team better in the long run?
Hard to say there is a lot of work still to be done by all but I do think in the long run these were the right moves no matter how much my heart hates them and probably needed to be made with a new youth infused NHL if you want to compete.
It took guts to make these moves for sure.
Still Bowman will be looked at and questioned if the Hawks don’t even make the playoffs this year or are bounced again early which is a good possibility with all the young players on the team.
It is now on the shoulders of the coaches and the players to step up and in whether the Hawks succeed or fall this year Hawks fans will support we may fuss and question but only because we are fans and want the team to do well.
I will close with these from those far more eloquent than I:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare