The future is a complete unknown for the Chicago Blackhawks. With many questions needing answers, let’s take a look ahead and evaluate.
The Chicago Blackhawks and their fans have been treated to one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history over the past decade, capturing three Stanley Cups in six years. After starting this season with a tough 2-3-1 record, and only getting wins against the Detroit Red Wings, fans anticipate the low ride of a roller coaster. Their dynamic core continues to age. On top of that, they account for far too much cap space. It appears Hawks fans may be destined for another long rebuild as their future remains unknown.
Difficult injuries prevented key players from returning to action to begin the season. Starting with the loss of Captain Jonathan Toews to an undisclosed injury and the loss of rookie sensation Kirby Dach to a wrist injury in the World Juniors Tournament, there are many unknowns for this Hawks’ roster and what we will see out of them.
After the slow start many questions need to be answered for the future of this team. Fans should have expected this when Hawks management issued the red flag warning them to wait for the “vision for the future.” A fancy way of telling the fans to not expect much out of this storied franchise this season.
For many fans, the most glaring issue is the lack of a true number 1 starting goaltender. Following, is surely the amount of cap space held by aging stars of the last dynasty. Among the future “dead” cap space belongs to Brent Seabrook, being owed $6.875 million over the next 4 years. Management has made it clear to him and fans… “Thanks for your service we don’t need you anymore.” Other issues include having $21 million in cap space belonging to Toews and Kane. However, for the short term, Toews being placed on long term IR gives the Hawks some flexibility, for the time being.
The Hawks and their fans have no reason to rage against the monster deals their beloved starters are entitled to now. However, everyone can see that Kane, Keith and Seabrook are aging and their play is beginning to decline. Even still, no one can deny the joy brought to the city with those three Stanley Cup trophies. The Hawks are beholden to these starters for the next 3 years minimum. They bring veteran leadership to the Hawks young players and future draft picks. Is it enough?
Flash in the Pan?
Many Hawks fans may argue that the Hawks aren’t done and point to last year’s playoff berth. However, being the “youngest” team can only get you so far in this NHL. With a shocking 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in last year’s Playoff qualifying round, the Hawks quickly met their match in the Vegas Golden knights in their first-round exit. We can only hope that Hawks fans are not in for another 49 year drought. Only time will tell if management’s vision will come to be.