Chicago Blackhawks: It is time to make some big changes

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

The Chicago Blackhawks were pretty much in it until the end which is a compliment to the players, but some unforgivable mistakes derailed them.

That’s all she wrote. The Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated from playoff contention on a night that they were idle. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night solidifying the fact that the Blackhawks would not make it. That is a dirty rotten shame. There are a lot of reasons to be angry at that fact. It could have been different.

How could it have been different? Well, there were many mistakes made by upper management that are unforgivable. It is time for ownership to fire Stan Bowman and John McDonough. They have both made some good decisions in the past that have led to long term success, but it is time for a change.

The decision made with the head coach in 2018-19 was the final straw. If they were going to fire the greatest coach in team history in Joel Quenneville they should have either done it before the season so the new coach could have his own training camp, or they should have waited until after this season. The rough patch the team went through after the change was made is proving to be the difference in them making the playoffs or not this season. It was a very bad decision. Maybe they needed a change, but the timing of it was horrible.

Of course, there are some other things you can look back on that clearly lead to the demise of the whole thing. None bigger than the trading of Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Brandon Saad. Panarin is an elite NHL right wing and has all the tools to be an MVP caliber player while Saad is just a good second line type wing. The lack of Panarin has really shown over these two years without him, resulting in no playoffs both years.

The biggest disappointment is they couldn’t give Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews the right tools to win with. Patrick Kane probably would have won the Hart Trophy had Chicago made the playoffs. He has 41 goals and 64 assists for 105 points. Toews has 34 goals and 44 assists for 78 points. Having players like that on your roster should not be wasted. They don’t have many years left of this production. The team’s time to win should be now. They did their part, upper management did not.

Everyone knows the Blackhawks need some defense. Well, news flash for everyone, elite defenseman do not grow on trees. Guys like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook do not come around as often. But if you have great puck-moving forwards you can help the defenseman on your team out by simply having possession more often than not. Hopefully, a guy like Henri Jokiharju or Ian Mitchell can come in and be impactful players for the defense core.

Seabrook can be a 6th defenseman on a good team, he just needs to be put in a position to succeed. The same thing for Keith, he is still a serviceable top 4 defenseman. They need to be put in new roles and they will appear much better.

They also let players like Phillip Danault and Teuvo Teravainen go for virtually nothing, and those guys would have been really nice to have. There have been some decent trades like the Nick Schmaltz for Dylan Strome trade, but that doesn’t erase what has been done. John McDonough said after firing the coach that he believes in this roster. That was a blatant lie because this roster is clearly not good enough to compete for the playoffs regularly let alone Stanley Cup.

Anyone who watches hockey regularly can see that this team has two great scoring lines to build around and they haven’t done a great job building in recent years. The salary cap is really not much of an excuse because we have seen a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins have just as much success, if not more than the Blackhawks, and they are still a very good team. The draft and smart roster decisions are key and they have all been mostly missing for Stan and company lately.

As a tandem, they have built a great culture but it is time for a change. Dale Tallon had a lot to do with the team Stan inherited anyway. It is time for a change for this team so they can try and maximize the final years of their superstars prime. Stan and John almost certainly will be next in line, because there isn’t a coach to blame anymore. Toews and Kane played as good as ever, so there is nobody else to point the finger at.

The final three regular season games could definitely still have some meaning for the Blackhawks. They have the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, the Dallas Stars on Friday night, and the Nashville Predators to close out the season on Saturday night. All three of those teams are going to the playoffs and will be looking for better seeding in those playoffs. The Blackhawks will likely not have great odds at the Draft Lottery anyway so there is no reason not to try and play spoiler here.

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Just because they will have a small chance doesn’t mean it is no chance, however. The Draft lottery is on Tuesday, April 9th. The Blackhawks will participate in it for the second year in a row. Hopefully, the way this season has gone inspires ownership to see the need for big change. Guys need to be held accountable. It might have to be Stan and John.