Chicago Blackhawks Will Benefit from Longer Offseason

If fans have not noticed, the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the National Hockey League’s utmost prized teams of present. As a copious amount of hockey fans ridicule the NHL for favoring the franchise with a third straight year of league-high nationally televised games, 21 games this upcoming season over NBC & NBCSN airwaves, and four consecutive seasons including an outdoor game since the 2nd annual Winter Classic in 2009 at Wrigley Field.

Even though the fans may or may not have some legitimacy in that concept. But this is a money making business, the wonder part of sports. Can fans really see a reason, except retro dislike for one of the most successful teams in the last eight seasons, for the NHL to not continue to take advantage of the prestige that is the Blackhawks? Whether fans object to such favoring, they are going to watch no matter what.

The Blackhawks sit at fourth in Forbes’ list of Most Valuable NHL Teams. Sitting behind the Toronto Maple Leafs (3), Montreal Canadiens (2), and New York Rangers (1); all sitting at a value at $1.1 billion or higher.

Joel Quenneville took over the team when it was not valued in 2008-09. Coach Q, as they call him, has had the team in his command ever since. The Blackhawks have played TONS of extra hockey in the Quenneville era. Besides winning the Stanley Cup three times in the past 7 years, they have at the least made it to the Western Conference Finals 5 of 8 seasons since Quenneville’s inaugural season.

Last season the Hawks finished 3rd in an expanded Central division, after a league-wide division reformat a few seasons ago. With 47 wins, they made the postseason for the 8th straight season after only getting to the playoffs once in the prior 10 seasons (not including the lockout starting in 2004). In those prior 10 seasons, one playoff win, against the St. Louis Blues. In the last eight seasons, 76, yes, seventy six playoff wins in 124 playoff games. The Blackhawks have a .613 winning percentage.

In 2015-16 though the Hawks had an early playoff exit. They lost to the aforementioned Blues in 7 games. It stinks of course. But now that Stanley Cup has been won, not by the Blues, but by the Eastern Conference’s Pittsburgh Penguins, the Hawks can forget about last season and rest up well for the upcoming one.

For the first time since the 2012 playoffs and a first round exit to the previously Phoenix Coyotes, now the Arizona Coyotes, the Hawks got most of the summer to get their legs back to physical health.

The Hawks never really showed that they needed much of rest cause they have always been on of the speediest teams in the NHL. Patrick Kane had the season of his career last year with rookie Artemi Panarin beside him as Rookie of the Year. Kane’s 26 game scoring streak might have been the highlight of the Blackhawks season. It was the longest in Hawks history. Except, an argument of last season though was the Kane line was the only line producing most of the campaign. The defense was a weak spot and the offense had some holes in its core players including veteran Marian Hossa and youth hopeful Teuvo Teravainen. Andrew Shaw was shipped off to Montreal for some draft picks and the Hawks went to work with a few signings to work on the bottom six of the offense, which includes the signing of journeyman grit Jordin Tootoo.

Blackhawks General Manager, Stan Bowman, also went to work on the team’s defense and made it quite stronger that the fiasco that was last seasons defense.

Last offseason started with the trade that sent a core player in Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars and brought back Trevor Daley. And if fans followed the Daley era in Chicago, they would know he was a Stanley Cup Champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins by the end of the season. At the time, he was needed because Johnny Oduya had also moved to Dallas.

Furthermore, Brent Seabrook’s down season was noticed with the look of an eye and stats did everything but disprove such. Seabrook was playing teacher if he had any defense. He played with multiple different pairings through the season with the young guys. Playing with Viktor Svedberg, Erik Gustafsson, and Trevor van Riemsdyk likely put extra pressure that Seabrook let get the better of what are all-star caliber mechanics.

Former Blackhawk Brian Campbell made it clear to the hockey world that he wanted back in to Chicago. Just over 1000 games played, Campbell has spent the last 5 seasons with the Florida Panthers, wearing the A on his sweater for most of that time and never missing a game, literally. Racking up 176 points in his time with the Panthers, he decided to sign a one year bargain deal to return to the midwest where he played from 2008-2011, and winning a Stanley Cup within that time in 2010. The Blackhawks had to let Campbell walk after 2011 due to cap problems. Cap problems are an every season problem since they became Stanley Cup contenders. He comes back as likely the fourth defensemen behind Duncan Keith, Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Oh, and Campbell wants to stay in Chicago as long as possible, as does Michal Kempny, Blackhawks other defensive signing in May.

Michal Kempny is a 25 year old Czech Republic standout that signed a one year entry-level deal out of the KHL. Described as a two-way defensemen, Kempny has a left-handed shot that put up five goals and 16 assist in 59 games played, along with four points in 11 postseason games. He played in the IIHF World Hockey Championship (2G, 2A, 8G).

At 6ft and 194lbs, he and Campbell made the Hawks defensemen go from weak to quite steady-strong.

The Chicago Blackhawks never settle for good enough, and always come up as Championship contenders. The NHL’s model franchise can take jabs from outside critics because they will not be looking beyond the ice. Legs are rested and healthy for the first time in seasons. Fans from all around will be watching.

 

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