by Zoie Morack
Mentally preparing yourself for the upcoming Chicago Blackhawks season? Yeah, so am I. Between another coaching change, a new general manager, and the trades that broke our hearts this offseason, Hawks fans have a weary outlook on how this season will go. With the first game of the pre-season around the corner, there are a lot of events that fans need to be caught up on.
In the past 10 months, the Blackhawks have cycled through three head coaches. Jeremy Colliton started the 2021 season with a 1-9-2 record and was quickly fired and replaced by Derek King, acting as an interim head coach. Derek King carried the team throughout the rest of the season, but his ending record of 27-33-10 didn’t meet the expectations of retaining the head coaching position. On June 27th, the Blackhawks announced that Luke Richardson had been hired as head coach.
My initial reaction was, “Who the heck is Luke Richardson?” and many Hawks fans joined me in that reaction. Richardson has been an Assistant Coach for the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens in recent years. During his 21 seasons in the NHL, Richardson was a physical, stay-at-home defenseman, someone the Hawks’ defense could learn from. Overall, management decided that Richardson would be the perfect head coach to grow with the team, but only time will tell if he will live up to that expectation.
After the Kyle Beach case came to light, the former GM, Stan Bowman, made the right decision to resign. Kyle Davidson took over as the interim GM and was promoted to the team’s permanent GM in March. When this was announced, I saw a light at the end of this tunnel of loss, and that light was a new GM to finally save the franchise from becoming the next Arizona Coyotes. This light quickly started to fade as Davidson began to make his first moves as GM. Davidson’s first trade absolutely gutted the Blackhawks fan base and he didn’t stop there.
As it came time for Davidson to make his first trade before the deadline, he decided to trade away Brandon Hagel, one of the team’s top scorers, and one of my favorite players. Hagel was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, and a 2023 & 2024 1st round pick. When I saw what we received, I was relieved; Tampa Bay got absolutely fleeced in this trade. Although it sucks to lose Hagel, I can’t argue with that big of a return, and for that reason, I let Davidson slide. I still had hope, but that hope was diminishing. As the NHL draft approached, the rumor mill was never-ending. The main one? Alex Debrincat was getting traded. I denied this one til the very end. I thought there was no way Davidson would trade away a player that can be the key to the rebuild. I thought wrong. Not only did they trade away Debrincat, but they got pocket change in return. In exchange for Debrincat, the Ottawa Senators sent the 2022 7th overall pick & second-round pick, as well as a 3rd round pick in 2024. This isn’t anywhere near what a player with Debrincat’s skill set is worth. This trade is what turned that light at the end of the tunnel into black.
So, where does this leave the Blackhawks for the 2022-23 season? In contention for the 2023 1st overall draft pick! This season, the Hawks are going to tank. They have three inexperienced, young goalies. Patrick Kane just had the last person who he had great chemistry with on the ice, Debrincat, get traded away. Jonathan Toews is still nursing himself back to health after his season off. Although this sounds very negative, there are some good things that could come of this rebuild. For example, a chance at drafting Connor Bedard in the 2023 Draft. Bedard is a powerhouse of a prospect, and he’s a necessary piece to this Blackhawks rebuild puzzle. Also, Lukas Reichel was seen to be a promising forward during this year’s Prospect Showcase.
This season is going to be very trying as a Hawks fan, but for those of us that are in it for the long haul, we may see the glory days of 2010-2015 repeat themselves in the next five years. Until then, buckle in, grab a drink, and be prepared to launch the remote through the TV on gameday because this will be a very long couple of seasons.