Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Even In A Race For Last Place, The Blackhawks’ Recent Success Is A Good Thing

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“They’re a team… That’s the keyword, is team. I think that started from Day 1 at training camp. … There’s a lot of belief in that room.”

– Blackhawks’ Head Coach Luke Richardson, after his squad beat the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night

It’s safe to say that there were mixed feelings about both the huge upset 6-3 win at the United Center earlier this week and Thursday night’s 2-1 win in Nashville. Some fans might have been disappointed. Clearly, the Blackhawks aren’t in win-now mode. That much was obvious at the deadline, when the team dealt stars like Max Domi, Patrick Kane, and Jake McCabe, along with several others.

The team is all-in on the “battle for Bedard”. With the current state of the team, they find themselves among the leaders in lottery odds to land the first overall pick, which would undoubtedly result in Connor Bedard, the 17-year-old proclaimed the “future of hockey”. They’re already building around whichever player they take with their early pick in this year’s draft, clearing up salary cap room for next year as well as developing one of the league’s best prospect pools.

The 2022-23 Blackhawks Aren’t So Bad After All?

In a race to the bottom where every loss counts, the Blackhawks have been surprisingly successful – not in losing – but in winning games, and making the games they don’t win respectable. This season, 23 of their 67 games have been decided by one goal. Add that to the 12 other games that Chicago won, and the Blackhawks have won or lost by one goal in more than half of their total games.

For this reason, not all fans in Chicago share the same frustrated sentiment. Those statistics are promising for this young team. As a squad that many projected at the trade deadline to finish dead last in the NHL, the team’s performance is vastly exceeding expectations. They’re delicately balancing their success with the current rebuild, as they’re still holding a spot near the bottom of the standings, but have avoided all negative consequences of tanking.

Negative Consequences

Tanking can often bring with it unintended side effects. For starters, it can damage team morale. What players, in any sport and on any team, would want to play for a club that’s intentionally losing as many games as possible? Such practices ruin the intent of sports in general. Additionally, it can discourage fans from attending games and make teams miss out on revenue. Fans watch to see their team win, and when that doesn’t happen, ticket sales drop along with TV ratings.

The Blackhawks have been balancing the consequences of tanking perfectly. With every loss, they set themselves up better for the future. If things progress as they have been, even if they lose the Bedard sweepstakes, the team will most likely be set up to take one of the three best prospects in a loaded class. On the other hand, they can’t be expected to lose every game. A win every once in a while is necessary to keep morale up, and all the one-goal differential games help keep spirits up as well.

Only The Beginning?

Perhaps most importantly, the recent stretch of solid play in Chicago suggests that this is the beginning of a very well-built roster. A post-trade deadline team that many labeled as the “Bad News Bears” of the NHL, and was full of young, unproven players, is showing that they can be competitive even with a stripped roster. These games are a great baseline for a team that will plan to build on top of the players that are already there in the coming seasons and could be seen as the beginning of something great in Chicago.

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Tommy Hawk
Tommy Hawk
Mar 17, 2023 7:15 am

This is, literally, the stupidest piece of sports writing/logic/commentary I’ve ever read. It’s a “good thing” that a bunch of role players who won’t be on the roster in 2 years is winning meaningless games, costing the team a chance for a generational talent? Dude is wrote this is ridic.

SquiggyGater
SquiggyGater
Mar 17, 2023 6:35 am

Accountability is all that matters. This team could still make the playoffs, and then, anything could happen!!!

Hehateme30
Mar 17, 2023 6:20 am

I don’t understand at all. Winning short term might normally be a good thing, but when you have a chance for a generational player to come and impact your team for a decade, then obviously winning isn’t a good thing. I get that they need to try to be competitive because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but they may have hired Luke Richardson too early. This kid, Bedard, has a chance to be Gretzky, McDavid, Crosby, Lemieux, Howe, etc. All those players. He has the talent and the ability to impact a game and make other players better. Not… Read more »

John
John
Mar 16, 2023 9:24 pm

Absolutely the dumbest take ever. A good thing? Winning with a bunch of pyers who wont be here in 3years is a good thing? Missing out on a possible all time suprerstar is a good thing? what the hell are you talking about?

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