This 31-part series chronicles why each team is going to be trash in the 2018-2019 NHL season. Progressing alphabetically, three teams will be featured weekly during the off-season. A compendium 31-part series will be published by Hockey Doc (@RealHockeyDoc) on www.BeerLeagueTalk.com on why your team is good in the 2018-2019 NHL season.

 

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

The once dominant Chicago Blackhawks are now 3 years removed from their 3rd Stanley Cup in a 6 year span. In the 3 year stretch since their last Cup, they’ve been booted from the playoffs in the first round twice, one of which was a sweep, and they failed to make the playoffs last year. No bueno.

At the beginning of the the 2017-2018 season, still reeling from being swept in the first round by the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks were inebriated on memberberries and went out and got Saad back in exchange for Panarin. They also signed Patrick Sharp again. I can see the Sharp move making sense financially. But as far as putting up points, Saad’s a fucking bum compared to Panarin. Rumor has it that Kane and Toews even petitioned to get Saad back. Well, the move didn’t pan out very well and now the Hawks are stuck with Saad for $6 million a year till 2021. Now, say what you will about intangibles like team chemistry or even that Saad’s a better 2 way player but the likely reason this was done was to avoid having to pay Panarin next year. With Panarin’s contract up in 2019, he’d be looking for a big pay day and with Toews and Kane making $10.5 mill a year each on top of $6 million for Crawford, the Hawks just don’t have a lot of flexibility.

With Toews and Kane both hitting 30 and Keith and Seabrook at 35 and 33 years old, respectively, the Blackhawks are looking to rebuild for the future. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be in the playoff picture during this rebuild. To have a star studded core, like the Blackhawks have, all start to decline at the same time, has to be rough. Those 4 players alone could probably still force a team into the playoffs as long as they had just one more guy to help on the back end…

That guy is Corey Crawford. Dude’s been on the shelf since December last year and while everyone, including Crawford himself, has said that he’d be ready for return during the 2017-2018 season, it didn’t happen. The Blackhawks are citing concussion like symptoms and vertigo. They have been very tight lipped about the whole thing, to the point that it’s weird now. I can’t find a replay of when the actual injury happened but Quenneville has said that he had “his bell rung” during a Penguins game or something or another. Since the Hawks aren’t saying shit, people’s imaginations are taking over and speculation is running rampant. Rumours range from what the team is saying, to drug/alcohol abuse. If you don’t remember, Crawford was shithammered and fell down a step at a concert a few years back spraining his ankle and putting him out for several games. Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t do the exact same thing at a Rise Against concert, but I’m also not a professional hockey player. Whatever the reason Crawford is out, it could be career ending, which is bad news for Chicago. I do hope that if it is something serious like drug/alcohol abuse or some crazy concussion symptoms that he gets the help he needs, and makes a full recovery.

Sorry, I had to.

The meteoric decline of the Blackhawks is only going to continue this season and will only be exasperated by shoddy goaltending, so getting their starter back is a necessity for success. At this point it doesn’t look like Crawford will return by the beginning of the season, but then again, there’s still a lot of time, and since we know absolutely nothing about the injury, I’m literally just pulling shit out of my ass.

In any case, Cam Ward signed a 1 year contract for $3 million with the Hawks which was a good move considering the goalie trouble and also a bit of an indicator as to what kind of “backup” duties will be necessary for Chicago. I’m guessing Cam Ward may have to start for a considerable number of games for the Hawks and as this is his first season away from Carolina in his entire career… I’d expect him to be serviceable. That’s about it.

The Hawks do have some bright spots on the roster though. They picked up Marcus Kruger again free basing those memberberries. No but seriously, Alex DeBrincat had a good rookie season, as did Nick Schmaltz. Expect to see those names more often this upcoming season. Jan Rutta also showed some flashes of brilliance which is a promising piece on the blueline. Chicago also got rid of the Hossa cap space by trading him to Arizona… Too bad they had to ship Hinostroza and Oesterle with him. Whenever the Hawks take a step forward they have to take 2 back.

With the Chicago Blackhawks now primed to make the 2015 playoffs there’s not enough memberberries to go around. With little cap space they’re handcuffed to this team whose core is just starting their downswing. Corey Crawford is questionable to play at best and it looks like the Hawks are a low key dumpsterfire, similar to the Ottawa Senators minus the spouse feuds and bad coaching. The depth moves they’ve made (Kunitz lol) and their young guys aren’t enough to carry them to the playoffs, but hey… Time is cyclical right? I guess Hawks fans can rest easy knowing they have 3 cups in recent memory.

And that’s why the Chicago Blackhawks are trash in 2018-2019.

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