Many fans and experts knew that the Chicago Blackhawks roster would look different after the 2014-2015 NHL season. Management was going to have to figure out how to manage the salary cap and already plan what the organization needed to do to stay in contention for many years.
Chicago lost an opportunity to repeat as champions when the team lost Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. The winning goal was a fluke that went off a Hawks defensemen and a bitter taste was left in the mouths of the Chicago players.
The Blackhawks responded this past season. Players spoke about the fact that there would be roster changes after the season. Many wanted to win another Stanley Cup together one last time. When it seemed dim that the team could win it all, trades were made and Patrick Kane returned to the playoffs rejuvenated.
The rest is history.
Winning a championship always makes changes easier, but it’s still not something fans want to go through. The group of players, and the old core, managed to win the third Cup in six seasons, something not done since the Detroit Red Wings in the late 90s/early 2000s. But the changes have been made and many question whether a repeat could happen with this new roster.
The changes made after each championship has been different. The roster moves made after the 2010 win had been seen as the most extreme, with the departures of Antti Niemi, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, to name a few. Bot now, with the departures of Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, to name a few, this offseason might be seen as the worst of the three.
General manager Stan Bowman has tried to make the correct moves to keep his team a contender, but teams around the league aren’t helping Bowman or do they feel bad for the organization many call a modern-day dynasty. The surprising move of trading Saad brought in a few good players in Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano. The Sharp trade brought in Trevor Daley and agitating forward Ryan Garbutt.
Bowman also added three Russians to the roster, including Anisimov, Viktor Tikhonov, who was signed from the KHL in Russia and Artemi Panarin. The three are expected to have a big impact on the team and will hopefully provide the stepping stone to help the Hawks win another championship.
As the confetti settled and the city begins to focus on the Chicago Cubs’ pennant run, the Chicago White Sox’ selling and the new regime for the Chicago Bears, the Blackhawks management will try to finish filling in the puzzle pieces, hopefully putting together a roster that can add a seventh banner in the United Center.