The best quote I’ve heard to describe the Hawks/Blues series is “It’s pretty hard to knock out a champion.”
It’s a rarity in the last half-decade that the Chicago Blackhawks are not in contention for the Stanley Cup while there’s still hockey to be played. The discussion on sports radio this morning mostly is focused on what they did wrong, but it was a former Blackhawk that sealed the deal. And if the Hawks had made it past the Blues, there’s another multi-ring former Hawk in Patrick Sharp waiting to pick them apart.
It started after their first cup – I was really surprised they would part with Dustin Byfuglien after the strong performance he put up during the entire playoff series. He was never the #1 player on the Hawks, but you can bet he is on the Jets. Brouwer put the Blues ahead for the series last night – he was brought in to be the difference in playoff series – and now he’ll face Sharpie and Johnny Oduya with the Stars. The Blues and Stars were decent teams in the past, but not considered serious contenders until these former Blackhawks players arrived.
So, clearly the 2015/16 Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have the mixture of talent they needed to go all the way. The question they can start addressing today is how to better support their core players in Toews and Kane while staying under the salary cap. That last bit probably has more to do with the current state of the Hawks than fatigue or play-calling. The need to shed salaries has caused some exceptional players to move on, but I have to believe that their training and work ethic rubs off on their new teammates, making the pursuit of the cup that much more difficult for the Blackhawks.
I need to pay more attention to the Rockford IceHogs, I guess, as that’s where the new Kane and Toews will emerge. On the other hand, how often does talent like that come along? If you’re Scotty Bowman, all the time, probably.
While we’re seeing the stars ascending in Cubs baseball, we might be seeing the aging and dissolution of a hockey powerhouse in Chicago. If the Hawks completely fell apart after this year, I’d still think you’d need to consider them a dynasty. That’s a lot of rings in a short amount of time.