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The Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015 are some of my favorite Chicago sports memories, I’m afraid, however, the time has come for the franchise to pay up for those championships. In other words, I’m not terribly optimistic about the Hawks chances going into the 2018-19 season.
Paging Corey Crawford
The Hawks chances of surprising this season depend heavily on a return of Corey Crawford as an elite goalie. Corey has had one of the more mysterious injuries in recent Chicago sports history. I have no idea as to what to expect from him this season, and I doubt the Blackhawks do either. Free agent signing, Cam Ward, is a capable backup goalie, but he’s not Corey Crawford in his prime. I’m afraid Corey Crawford isn’t either.
Stan chose poorly
The Blackhawks also have other issues. Jonathan Toews is still an excellent center, but not an elite one. In last year’s offseason, the Hawks doubled down on Toews and lost. There was a school of thought that Toews’ production was negatively impacted by being flanked by unproductive wingers. That led to the Hawks trading the Breadman, Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad. Bad idea.
Saad’s stats for 2017-18 were 18-17-35. By contrast, Panarin’s stats were 27-55-82. Ouch. By the way, Toews’ stats were 20-32-52. Patrick Kane, who worked so well with Panarin, also saw a decline in scoring. It was a bad move by the Blackhawks, and they don’t have that kind of margin of error.
Thanks for the memories
The biggest thing that jumps out about Toews’ stats to me is his shooting percentage. Last season it was 9.5%. In his prime it was around 15%. Don’t take this as an anti-Toews article. Jonathan is my all-time favorite Blackhawk. That’s because he did whatever it took to win. He would win a faceoff, kill a penalty, go to the front of the net, score on the power play, score beautiful goals, or almost will the Hawks to win. That’s why he’s my all-time favorite Blackhawk. I loved to watch the Blackhawks of the 1960s-70s, but how a team with Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and a bunch of other talent didn’t win a Cup after 1961 is beyond me.
I don’t want to bury Toews, just accept him for what he is.
Dale Tallon 2.0?
Another Blackhawk who is one of my all-time favorites is Brent Seabrook. Having said that, Stan Bowman giving Seabrook is last contract was an act of insanity. Dale Tallon got ripped for giving overly generous contracts, but Stan Bowman shares that characteristic.
Yesterday, when the Hawks were young
The Hawks have some young talent in Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Vinnie Hinostroza. Those guys won’t be mistaken for Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Those last three Hawks’ Stanley Cups were great. The one in 2015 was an absolute gift. Frankly, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked quicker and frankly better, but the Hawks and Corey Crawford stole the Cup.
Yes, it’s time to pay up for those Cups, but as a Hawks fan, it was worth it.
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