Three Priorities For The Blackhawks After The Patrick Kane Trade

Three Priorities For The Blackhawks

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Three Priorities For The BlackhawksCHICAGO - The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and the league had some defined buyers and sellers. One of those teams looking to restock the cupboard was the Chicago Blackhawks, who unloaded future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane. He had spent his entire 15-year career before this season in the Windy City, before the organization decided to trade him to the New York Rangers.

Three Priorities For The Blackhawks

It’s always difficult for a franchise to move on from a legend, especially an aging one at that. Chicago decided to rip the band-aid off and open the door to a new era in their team’s history. There are many organizations throughout sports that wait too long to make a painstaking decision, and it costs them in the long run. 

We’ll take a look at three things the Blackhawks should focus on in the post-Kane era as the hockey season winds down.

Reflect On Kane’s Legacy

Now that Chicago has officially transitioned into a different phase of their franchise history, they will no longer be among the favorites in Bodog’s NHL Stanley Cup odds. Instead, the sportsbook confirms that the Boston Bruins is projected to dominate the whole season. In every sport, even the greatest teams with the most impeccable collections of talent have to look in the mirror and make a tricky but impartial decision. For the Blackhawks, that time arrived this season, but they should look back on the past fondly. 

That isn’t to say that the Blackhawks should spend every waking moment dreaming about Kane, and wishing that he had aged more gracefully in his later years. Dwelling on the past can prevent someone from accurately assessing what may happen in the future. However, there’s no doubt that Kane brought some special qualities to the ice, and the team should try to identify those traits in new players.

For example, Kane made a point to be there for his team throughout the course of the season. In recent years, he missed some more contests, but was largely a consistent presence in the lineup. That burning desire to contribute night in and night out is something the Blackhawks will need to replenish.

Looking at Luke

During the Patrick Kane era in Chicago, the team had the most success with Joel Quenneville at the helm. Quenneville spent 11 seasons with the Blackhawks, amassing a record for 452-249, and most importantly, brought home three Stanley Cup trophies. It was a glorious time for the franchise, as the talent on the ice was superior, and the decision making on the bench was elite. 

However, the franchise decided to part ways with Quenneville midway through the 2018-2019 campaign, and they’ve had a difficult time finding someone to right the ship since. The team hired Jeremy Colliton, followed by Derek King, before settling on current head coach Luke Richardson. In fairness, Richardson was dealt a bit of a tough hand this season, as the team looks to build an identity moving forward.

With that being said, the front office still needs to determine whether Richardson is the right man for the job. This is his first go-round as a head coach in the NHL, and doesn’t have other experience to draw upon at the highest level of hockey. The team will need to decide whether Richardson has shown enough promise to be kept on, or whether someone else might fit better with the organization’s long term needs. 

Prioritizing The Future

The Blackhawks still have one link to the glory days on their roster, as beloved center Jonathan Toews remained on the team past the trade deadline. He’s going to turn 35 pretty soon, and Chicago will also have to decide whether Toews’ presence on the team helps or hurts their efforts moving forward. As it stands, Toews appears to be in the midst of being phased out, since he’s on pace to appear in the fewest number of games in a decade.

As the 2022-2023 season winds down, expect players like Max Domi, Seth Jones, Taylor Raddysh and Andreas Athanasiou to have expanded opportunities to thrive. This group of players is all in their 20’s, and will need to take the next step in the Blackhawks are going to return to respectability. At this juncture, it appears as if Domi will end the season as Chicago’s point leader. 

It’s also going to be intriguing to see just how hard Chicago tries to put their best lineup forward during the last few tilts of the campaign. There has been a lot of attention paid to some of the top prospects in the 2023 NHL Draft, including Canadian prodigy Connor Bedard who is currently 17 years-old. No team is going to openly admit to losing games on purpose, but dropping some contests as the schedule winds down will put the team in a strong position to select the possibly-generational talent.

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