Chicago Blackhawks: Bowman to blame for team’s performance

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks have now played 18 games since the executive decision to fire Joel Quenneville. Those games have proved that this team’s performance wasn’t his fault.

With their win on Wednesday Night Hockey against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Chicago Blackhawks are now 4-12-2 since firing Joel Quenneville after the team started 6-6-3 under his tutelage. You heard that correctly, the Blackhawks have won two fewer games in three more tries under Jeremy Colliton. But yes, 6-6-3 was Coach Q’s fault.


The day after the Blackhawks fired Quenneville, President and CEO John McDonough was quoted as saying, “We’ve got to get this going in the right direction. We want to make sure that we’re able to salvage this season and do everything we can to get this right.” That quote hasn’t aged well.

Let’s take a look at few basic numbers. Under Quenneville, the Blackhawks averaged 3.07 goals per game on 32.8 shots per game. That would be good for 14th and 7th among total 2018-19 NHL offensive numbers, respectively.

Under Colliton, the Blackhawks are averaging 2.61 goals per game, which would be 28th among 2018-19 numbers. Their 30.6 shots per game would put them at 21st.

Now let’s be fair to Colliton. The Blackhawks have had a difficult schedule as of late. Seven of their last 12 opponents have been teams who are top 3 in their division. It is also impossible to know how long a notice Colliton was given before taking over in Chicago. AHL to NHL is a big leap for a 33-year old coach.

So who’s to blame? It isn’t fair to place any blame on Colliton. He did not ask for this; he is only able to play the cards he is dealt. In this case, his “cards” are an inexperienced, poorly-constructed hockey team.

The blame must lie with him who deals the cards, GM Stan Bowman. His poor roster moves over the past few seasons have brought the Blackhawks from the perennial contenders they were to the team we see today.

One notable Bowman blunder is his trading of Artemi Panarin. He was traded in a package that gave the Blackhawks Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and a 5th-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The Blackhawks have yet to see much fruit from that trade as Saad and Forsberg have been average at best.

Meanwhile, through 272 career games, Panarin is averaging nearly a point per game.

Another Bowman mistake was trading away Teuvo Teravainen. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016 along with Bryan Bickell for draft picks. The players selected with those picks have yet to see the ice for the Blackhawks.

Hear me out here. I am not trying to minimize the importance of draft picks. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were once just draft picks. However, I very much believe in taking known value above unknown value. Teravainen was a young, known talent who was traded away for picks whose effect is yet to be felt.

Toews and Kane are now 30 years old. They could be playing out their last few prime years with Panarin and Teravainen. Instead, Toews and Kane are essentially the only scoring threats on the team with the exception of Alex DeBrincat.

Let’s not forget that Bowman also made Brent Seabrook the third highest paid player on this Blackhawks team, first among defensemen. Seabrook’s best years are long gone as he has not aged well. This season, he is 72nd among all defensemen in TOI at 21:04, 4th among Blackhawks defensemen.

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Unfortunately for Blackhawks fans, Bowman doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. After Quenneville was fired, McDonough gave Bowman a vote of confidence, saying “I believe in this roster, I believe in Stan. . . His body of work is excellent.”

Apparently, winning three Stanley Cups isn’t an excellent enough body of work for a head coach, though.