It Just Feels Different With These Blackhawks

The Rink gettyimages-101934801-e1537902554347 It Just Feels Different With These Blackhawks Rockford IceHogs Chicago Blackhawks

A Chicago Blackhawks core that arguably should be far from finished, and yet an undercurrent of apathy and futility looms over the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Doesn’t it just feel as though a cloud looms overhead? Have we as a fanbase been this uninvested in the beginning of a season in the last ten years?

The Core“. It’s a term that’s been thrown around the Chicago hockeysphere for the better part of the last decade. Included within it have been arguably the same five or six names. Names that are widely considered essential to all three of the ‘Hawks’ championships since 2010, and names whose performance and maturation the organization depends heavily on. For the majority of the last decade, we as fans have enjoyed an unrivaled and steadily growing confidence in the core of this team’s ability to perform under pressure and go the extra mile to get the Blackhawks over the finish line. The core has been the most dependable group of professional athletes arguably in the world over the last decade.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford. Those five are with absolute certainty the remaining five of the core still present on this team. The players whose success the fate of the organization depends heavily on. Regardless of the supporting roles of upcoming players of the future, the Chicago Blackhawks have built their brand and success on the backs of the core; and until a complete blow-it-up Toronto-esque rebuild begins, the Blackhawks will continue to depend on them for any meaningful success. They have put their eggs in this core’s basket and in many ways it has paid off in sum. However, with the gradually degrading overall performances of the last two seasons, that aforementioned confidence in this core’s ability to dominate in the unrivaled way they once did is almost all but gone. Has the league and the game itself passed them by? Is this dynasty finished? It’s certainly hard to argue otherwise at this point.

Perhaps most disconcerting about this dilemma is the fact that, relatively speaking, the core of this team is far younger than many of us imagined they would be before they came to a screeching halt in productivity and dominance. Not one of them is over 35 years old. And by dilemma, I mean the fact that a team that went from an embarrassing first round sweep, to missing the playoffs altogether, to now yet another less than exciting start to the preseason (to be taken understandably with a grain of salt given the lineups). Still, there is something to be said about the cloud of doubt and lack of confidence surrounding this season. Almost all fans would agree they aren’t satisfied with the changes Stan Bowman made over the summer; and with an indefinite question mark surrounding the team’s star goaltender, it’s very difficult to feel optimistic.

At the same time, the core of the Chicago Blackhawks has a mix of experience and youth that has produced championships in places like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Boston. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are both older than Jonathan Toews. The same Jonathan Toews that was once heralded as the best player in the world, over both of those superstars.

Patrick Kane continues to prove he may be the most versatile and dangerous winger in hockey, Duncan Keith remains more or less a model of consistency on the back-end as he fits into a more nuanced veteran role, and rumors of a rejuvenated, lighter, quicker Brent Seabrook have been circulating pretty rapidly throughout the Blackhawks blogosphere.

This season feels different because a majority of the evidence points to an indication that the hard miles of a decade of success and championships may have done irreversible damage to the core of this team. Damage that, if irreversible, marks the definitive end of an era. An end that would with blunt punctuality call for years of full rebuild and playoff-less hockey in Chicago. An end that came earlier than many would have guessed. All the same, we as a fanbase have largely surrendered to this unfortunate reality at this point; and unless the core of this team rallies and proves otherwise, this season could be the beginning of another dark period in Chicago hockey history.

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Alan Parsons 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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    Jake Martin

    A Chicago Blackhawks core that arguably should be far from finished, and yet an undercurrent of apathy and futility looms over the upcoming 2018-19 se
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    Um. I don’t think it is that bad. I think they have done a good job filling in with young athletic players who should be able to fill out the roles.

    The biggest problem is when these guys will be ready to contribute and will someone like Keith still be able to play at a high level at 36 or 37.

    The Sharks have been too old too slow and too injured to win and blew their last chance when the Hawks knocked them out in 2010 depending on who you ask only to make the final 6 years later and now probably be the favorites. The window on the Penguins closed until they won two in a row. With the parity in the league goofy things happen and I think it is unfair to say the window is closed as of today.

    A lot can change in a year or two for the better or the worse and I think this will be an interesting year just to see what some guys do and if some trends are bucked.



    I think the difference is in expectations. There is some talent in the system but the drop-off from the core to the next tier and then the tier after that, well, let’s just say it isn’t a championship caliber roster.

    When healthy, those five guys are still the best on the team. I doubt that will still be true the next time the Blackhawks win a Cup, but I’m willing to be proven wrong about that.

    I’m a fan first and I’m a fan of all five of those core guys. I hope they all end their careers with the Blackhawks even though it might be time to cut ties with some of them, or it will be time soon. The same goes for my feelings about Q; I wish he’d be coaching the Blackhawks forever, but maybe this is his last run with the team.

    There are some interesting story lines for the coming year. I’m excited for real hockey again. I hope the core all do well. I’m happy to have Kruger back. But right now it seems like we’re waiting for the young guys to develop and maybe get some more cap space and see how things shake out with Q and the front office. Next year is likely a new beginning of some sort, this year is to enjoy the last remnants of the Championship era.


    The loss of Hossa, and the decline in Toews’ play is what really has changed. Toews was the best center this franchise has seen in years and now is a shadow of himself. The fact that Hossa had to retire about the same time as Toews’ decline says more about Hossa’s value to this team than many realize. Trading Buff probably cost them a cup too. Vancouver had no answer for him and the 2011 7 game loss probably ends differently if Buff was still on the roster. Ditto for the 2014 loss to LA.

    It is worth noting that both Hossa and Buff were LARGER than the current cast of replacements. Size matters! Detroit went smurf with 6 or 7 guys that are all basically the same player to compliment Datzuk and Zetterburg. They are lotto picks like the Hawks after 25 years of making the playoffs. Gone are the big guys, Holmstrom, Bertuzzi, and Lindstrom to name a few. See a pattern here? Good teams have some big guys, the Hawks don’t.

    The Hawks haven’t drafted a guy over 6 feet til the later rounds of the past 2 drafts and only have a handful on the current roster and in Rockford. They had a chance to take Velano this year and passed him up for yet another slick skating 165lb defender who may very well be a good player some day, but when you’re weak and small up the middle as compared to the winning days past, it doesn’t make any sense.

    Imagine for a minute if Kane had a good center all of his career, how many scoring titles would he have now? No point paying him 10.4M to have him play with less because of cap restrictions. Trading Panarin is another issue that has backfired, as Toews still looks like a 3rd line center no matter who his line mates are. Hossa factor?

    Nobody saw #19’s decline coming a few years back, aside from the 10.4M, his drop in talent is killing this team as he is arguably their most important player. That’s why Bowman locked him up for 8 years. Vinnie LeCavalier comes to mind. He never played up to his contract and was eventually bought out. It was his drop off that kept Tampa from being a force after their cup win. Richards won a cup with the Hawks and could still play but couldn’t carry the Bolts by himself. Nor can Kane.

    Adding to the decline is NTC and NMC’s attached to the contracts of the “core” players. As foolish as over paying, Bowman hamstrung himself in adjusting the roster. So Hammer gets traded(because he was one of the few who didn’t have a NTC) at a time that the Hawks could use him most. You can’t keep them all after winning, but he did more than what shows up on the score sheet. Murphy(now injured) hasn’t filled his spot yet, making the defense weaker than when the Hawks were good. Trading Stanley Cup winner Kepney, who played top 4D minutes in the playoffs for Washington, says more about the missing pieces on defense, than Q’s mistrust of his play. Trots gave him a role and he did a nice job. Q had him in and out of the line up when he wasn’t in the dog house.

    Now without Crow, Ward and Forsberg are the tandem. Forsburg may save the day. Delia may out play both of them before this season is over.

    This is not a playoff team as comprised now. Lots of young players will have to step up right away for the Hawks not to be out of it before Thanksgiving. Most of the new talent is 2 years away from making the team, and nobody yet seems to be a lock to replace the core players that won 3 cups.



    Alan Parsons

    The Hawks have some cap space, a glut of AHL defensemen and defense prospects, a glut of 3/4 line type players, and a need for a good left side D, a 2C and better bottom 6.  There have to be some moves out there that make sense for them.  I cant imagine they stand pat with the glut of young D prospects they have.  Im NOT saying they are that valuable, but there are enough guys in the system that they have plenty to move.  You send 4 or 5 guys and maybe you can bring back someone like a Duchene plus a pick.  A whole bunch of guys were traded for used puck bags this offseason.  There has to be something available for the Hawks out there.

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