I said on Redline Radio yesterday with Pat Boyle that the Blackhawks needed 8 out of 10 points in this 5 game stretch against Detroit and Nashville. Had to have them to give themselves a chance at making the playoffs down the stretch. Best way to ensure you won't get 8 points is to lose the first game of that stretch against one of the very worst teams in the NHL. The Blackhawks were pathetic from the jump last night. They knew they needed two points and they finished the first period of that game with two shots on goal.
This is a team that Stan Bowman said was a playoff roster in October. Obviously not having Jonathan Toews is a huge problem, but when the team was winning in February and we were all excited about a future that included getting smoked by Tampa Bay in the first round. That dream is dead. Maybe they were beating up on cream puffs. Maybe teams made adjustments to how they attack the Hawks' special teams. Maybe all of their rookies hit the proverbial "rookie wall" all at the same time. All of those things could be true, BUT...the biggest thing is that this roster just isn't good.
Patrick Kane, the best player in the history of the franchise, one of the best players in the world, the greatest American who ever lived is forced to play with Brandon Hagel and Pius Suter. Two rookies. Two rookies that I like. Two rookies who have absolutely ZERO business playing in the top 6 for an NHL team and being on a line with Patrick Kane. That's not their fault. You need Brandon Hagels. You can win with Brandon Hagels. You just need him on the 4th line. If you look at the best teams across the league and their lines it is hard to imagine a scenario where either of those guys could find their way into the lineup with regularity. Which is not necessarily a knock on Suter and Hagel. It is not their fault they're being asked to do more than they can. Meanwhile, Stan Bowman is wasting the final years(and has been) of a guy who should have a statue, a banner, and the Lake Front named after him. If I were Patrick Kane I would be irate, but you never hear it from him. He's a good soldier and always has been. Maybe that has been to his detriment too.
The saddest part of all of this is that when you look at this group there's not a ton of hope that things will get significantly better. Outside of Kane, Debrincat, and Dach, how many guys are you comfortable saying will be a part of a contending team in Chicago? I think the answer is zero. Keith is still a legit top 4 dman and they ask him to play with neophytes and be a stable pony which hurts his game the same as Kane. He is 37 years old. I'd love him to be a part of another good team in Chicago. Feels unlikely. The young guys....Boqvist has proven nothing. Nylander is a dog. They traded for Borgstrom who has similar warts to his game as Boqvist and Nylander. Pius Suter has been nice, but he is also 24. He's not going to turn into some all-star level guy. All the young defensemen have been up and down. The prospect pool isn't regarded as being that good despite the Hawks not winning a playoff series since 2015. You'd think being this bad for this long would be PLENTY of time for a competent GM to restock, but that hasn't been the case. Every publication has the Blackhawks u-23 type guys in the bottom third of the league. Even Lankinen is turning into a bit of a pumpkin after having a very strong year
Given everything that has gone on and the Blackhawks brass continually getting rid of the wrong people in the organization it's hard to imagine a brighter future. Which sucks. I want to be the positive guy. I want to be the cheerleader. It's not in my nature to be a negative person which is why I am so invested in this team looking for rays of hope, but it's time to accept that it's just not there. I love the team. I always will. I like the players, but they just don't have enough good ones and they don't have a front office capable of evaluating them. That's CLEARLY evident by now. Or at least it should be. Yet, nobody is there to hold Stan accountable for being on the wrong end of trades and contracts for the better part of the last decade. It's insane. But give him a promotion. Fire the guys who are competent.
Kindddd of right. He said they had no chance at the playoffs. I thought that was crazy to say. Maybe he just had a clearer set of eyes about this group and knew they were dead long before anyone else. I don't know. We broke it down with Boyle on Redline along with all of our other shitty teams. You can listen here