You never thought you would read this, but it is true. The NHL playoffs will go on without the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time in a decade after the Blackhawks were eliminated from contention with a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Injuries and aging stars have sunk the Hawks since the start of the season, and all that, after a successful run that included three Stanley Cup titles and made the team a true dynasty.
“It’s been a tough, tough stretch here,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the loss to the Avalanche.
It now looks as if age and an annual struggle with the salary cap might have finally caught up to the Blackhawks, who are currently last in the Central Division with eight games left to go in their regular season. In their 2017-18 calendar…
Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen asks very important questions when it comes to the Blackhawks this summer. The popular one that has been asked for the past few months now is if Quenneville will return behind the bench for Chicago. Many fans and experts would be sad to see him go as he led a core group of stars that included Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, Chicago won three Stanley Cups and reached the conference finals two more times while appearing in the playoffs for nine straight seasons.
Boylen goes further. He ponders the unthinkable: what if the Blackhawks and general manager Stan Bowman decided to trade star forward and captain Jonathan Toews?
“Up front, 29-year-old Patrick Kane is still a star talent worth $10.5 million to a contender, but captain Jonathan Toews (also making $10.5 million) is being looped in with the other aging players no longer worth their hefty hits … on the ice anyway.”
Marc Savard was on Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday, and after criticizing defense veterans Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, he too wondered what will happen to Toews in Chicago.
“You hate to say it because he’s done so much for the Chicago Blackhawks, but is he a guy you put out on the market?” Savard asked. “Does someone give you a couple nice pieces to move forward? I don’t think you move Patrick Kane at all, he’s still got all it takes. But you definitely need to do something going forward and it starts with those two key cogs. Are they going to get you to where you want to be in the future?”
Toews has 20 points in his past 24 games and his production has improved since he was reunited on a line with Kane. Maybe that is the plan to use and place 22-year-old Nick Schmaltz as a line leader on the second unit.
The solution to the Hawks issues might be to make a significant change in the front office, as Bowman made some controversial trades in the past season when he sent out Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin and brought back Connor Murphy and Brandon Saad, among other depth pieces…
As for Quenneville getting fired, many experts like Doug MacLean strongly disagree.
“If Joel Quenneville wants to come back with the Chicago Blackhawks, he should be back,”Doug MacLean said on HC at Noon. “This guy should not be let go. If they fire him, c’mon. You’re asking for big time trouble.”