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The Blackhawks Demote Our Beautiful Boy Henri Jokiharju To Rockford

Remember way back in October when our beautiful boy burst on to the scene, made the team out of camp, and was playing top pair minutes with a great mentor in Duncan Keith? Keith and Jokiharju enjoyed playing together, it was mutually beneficial for them, and they were effective as the Blackhawks best pairing. The Joel got fired and the new guy split them up

Jokiharju had his minutes cut, partners changed, systems changed, and his omnipresent confidence seemingly took a dip

“We are going to send him to the World Juniors so he can get his swagger back” we were told. “It’s going to be good for him”, they said. All of that was a lie. It doesn’t appear that it was good for him on any level, and was never going to be. That was just about temporary roster flexibility as Bowman looked to removed his two UFA failures from the equation.

Colliton was supposedly hired to mature young players. Something that morons say was a blind spot for Joel Quenneville. Q played Henri over 21 mins per game, Colliton has him around 14 mins. And those 14 mins are a lower quality.

A month of being yo-yo’d in and out of the lineup. Sitting for long stretches, sheltered situations, set up to fail, playing his off-side, and now…because Forsling is set to return to the lineup and the Blackhawks don’t have much roster flexibility, one of their most talented defensemen is being sent down to the AHL

Real talk here…I don’t care that much. Stan and John have already ruined this season and a teenager playing in the American League isn’t the worst thing in the world. My problem is that I feel they’ve handled his development this year poorly. Sure he could be hitting a “rookie wall” of sorts, but he’s gotten steadily worse throughout the year and it’s coincided with less playing time. I’m a believer that everything should be a meritocracy. The best players play the most. Jokiharju is definitely still one of their best 6 defensemen…right NOW. I knew of a coach once who said that certain defensemen seem to get better and better the more they play. Jokiharju, like Keith, seemed to fit that bill. When you NEED Jokiharju to be a legit top 4 defensemen next year, playing him 14 mins a night on a team that is going nowhere doesn’t make a lot of sense. The season is effectively over. Everyone should be playing for next year. If you need to rotate Seabrook, Koekkoek, Forsling, or Dahlstrom out of the lineup then so be it and that’s because…Henri Jokiharju is better than them.

I understand wanting to really see what you have in Forsling, Koekkoek, and Dahlstrom over the next month. There’s logic in “showcasing” them for a potential trade and there’s logic in using the final 30 games or whatever as a try-out for next year’s team. All three of those guys are RFAs and the organization will need to make decisions on them. I just don’t think showcasing/pre-scouting should come at the expense of one of your most important players for 2019-20.

I think a trade will come here before the deadline. My guess is that it’ll be Gustafsson and somebody else. Then Henri will be back up. There just hasn’t been a lot of growth to his game this year and that is a BIG problem and indictment of those responsible for that development.