The Chicago Blackhawks need to change everything about the franchise.
The Blackhawks are in clear need of a Control-Alt-Delete. Plenty of ideas have been bantered about on how to accomplish this. There are some realistic ways to reboot this team, salvage this season, and salvage the organization’s reputation.
Rocky Wirtz needs to go
The Jenner & Block Report’s page six states that the investigation believed that Rocky Wirtz was not aware of the Aldrich situation. Yet, former players like Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton said everyone knew.
There will always be the elephant in the room wondering does “everyone” mean Wirtz? Did what happened to Beach make it to Wirtz’s attention even in passing? Since the NHL is not doing any follow-up investigations, we will never truly know.
Still, there will be some fans never coming back as long as Wirtz owns the team. I just do not see the Wirtz family selling the Hawks. One way to find a compromise is Rocky steps down as the team’s Governor and Chairman.
It might be time to promote Danny Wirtz into those roles. This shows the Blackhawks are committed to moving forward in the right direction with brand new leadership. In addition, this change would make sure no one in a power position in 2010 is still with the team.
Cut ties with Scotty Bowman
The legendary Scotty Bowman, Stan Bowman’s father, is still listed as the team’s senior advisor. Scotty helped Stan construct those 2010, 2013, and 2015 Stanley Cup-winning rosters.
The main reason I am calling for cutting ties with the legend is not that he shares a last name with Stan, although nobody knows what he shared with his dad. The main reason is that this roster has been in a steady decline since 2018. The Hawks have finished sixth or seventh in the Central Division the past four seasons.
There have been some star players in the making in Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat. There also have been a lot of misses or players not living up to expectations. The Blackhawks have not been collecting enough talent, especially defensively, to compete for a playoff spot. It is time to get a new set of eyes in the consultant’s role.
Go outside of the organization
I know there is a lot of sentiment for current television analyst Eddie Olczyk to be named the next president of hockey operations. I think he would be a fine choice.
My only concern is he has been in the analyst role and around the team since 2010. Is it a good idea to bring in someone to lead the franchise associated with the 2010 team when you are trying to communicate a fresh start in leadership?
The Blackhawks may be better served going outside the organization for its next hockey operations leader. There are plenty of fine candidates to comb through for the role. If they do stay within the Blackhawks family, then Olczyk should be the guy as he is a high character and high hockey IQ candidate.
I am just saying it might be a good idea to see what the market has to offer first. Above all, the Hawks need a general manager who understands how to work the salary cap which is something that Stan Bowman was awful at.
Time for a new head coach
Colliton was Stan Bowman’s hand-picked head coach. He has tried his best but it is just not good enough. He never had to worry about job security as long as Stan is in charge. Now that Stan has left the building, his job security is looking frail.
That is just one of the many reasons to now move on from Colliton. Plus, it is the one part of the reboot that could possibly jolt the Blackhawks towards playing better and salvage the season. A lot of this team’s failures fall at Colliton’s feet. It bears repeating but the defense has been awful this and during his tenure. It seems like he cannot get the defense to improve no matter what pairing combination he tries.
For the most part this season, the team has not made it hard for the team to create offense. Plus, Fleury is the only reason that they have been in some of these games as he starts to get back into form.
The Hawks seem to want to be patient with Colliton. There have been some injuries he has had to navigate during the first ten games. Overall, this team on most nights has looked like it would rather be anywhere than on the ice. I just do not see things getting better with Colliton in charge. Plus, you are what your record says you are. Colliton has a losing record.
Move on from Toews and Kane
These two have been the face of the franchise since 2007. They are huge reasons fans came back to support the Hawks and a part of those three Stanley Cup runs in the 2010s. They account for a good chunk of the Hawks’ salary cap.
The main reason to get ready to move on is that they are both getting up there in age. Both will be in their mid-30’s when their contracts expire after next season. It is usually never a good idea to commit the same amount of cap space that both may seek to a hockey player getting up in years
Father time is especially starting to catch up with Toews. All of those years of doing the dirty work have started to take their toll on his game, especially this season. You can tell he is just no longer the same skater he once was.
He is still a faceoff winning machine but is that worth the cost that Toews has on the salary cap? However, Kane is still highly productive and helps his team win every night.
No matter what, it is time the Hawks focus on new stars becoming the face of the franchise. It is time to put Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, and Kirby Dach out there. There needs to be a passing of the torch moment at some point, especially if Toews and Kane walk after next season.
Fans need to know the future is bright and it would serve the Hawks by locking up those three to long-term contracts and making sure they are the face of the team. More importantly, letting Toews and Kane leave will give the Blackhawks more cap space flexibility.
Finally, get these star players out in front of the public. One of the big things the Blackhawks did to regain the faithful in the late-2000’s was get players out in front of the public whether it was public appearances, radio, television, or print interviews. To be fair, COVID has slowed a lot of that stuff down but as things ramp up, it would be wise to go back to that plan.
Make things right with Kyle Beach
The nightmare Kyle Beach must have gone through is unimaginable. Your heart breaks for him. The Blackhawks need to come to a fair settlement with Beach. It should not be a settlement to make him go away either. They have expressed a desire to do that but it seems his lawyer feels there is still a way to go.
The “may exist” needs to switch to “does exist.” The Jenner & Block Report is scathing in detail of how management at the time decided to handle the situation. He was devalued by the organization that once thought so highly of him, it made him a number one pick. The Blackhawks need to do right by Beach to make up for all the wrong they did to him back in 2010.