Development vs. Playoffs, Fans Returning to the United Center? All-Outdoor Team, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Development vs. Playoffs, Fans Returning to the United Center? All-Outdoor Team, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a playoff spot based on both points and point percentage through 20 games played this season (or 35% of the 56-game schedule). This isn’t a one-day blip into the playoff picture either. It’s been a playoff position “chase” for the last 10-14 days, and it looks like it’ll continue for the rest of the year.

The March schedule will make a big difference in that notion, but until then, this is a team that *can* make the playoffs.

•   In the past, loading up the roster in an effort to push their way into the playoffs (while delaying opportunities for young players to develop at the NHL level) has been a tug-of-war with the organization. But this season has been much different. Given the injury issues that the Blackhawks have faced, playing rookies and inexperienced young players became necessary. Luckily for Chicago, those rookies have excelled and are a big reason why they are in the playoff hunt in the first place. So for once, the issue of focusing on development and the future or focusing on the short-term and the playoffs isn’t an “either/or” situation. It’s going hand-in-hand.

•   To compliment the young players’ successes this season, veteran players like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat have pulled their weight and then some. If could have been a season to write-off, given the injuries and shortened schedule, but the Blackhawks find themselves with a competitive team and a new buy-in mentality from all players, young and veteran.

•   It’s been amazing to watch this team come together and play exciting hockey. One thing we all wish we could do is watch this team in person at the United Center, belting-out the National Anthem and dancing to Chelsea Dagger. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we currently live in. In a story from Scott Powers of The Athletic, he details the potential of having fans not just back at the United Center, but back at all Chicago stadiums in the near future. From the piece:

A high-level city of Chicago source said Wednesday that fans aren’t in the short-term plans for the Blackhawks or Bulls at the United Center.

“Indoor spaces are still a concern,” the source said. “You need four to five people (working) to every fan. You have concessions, security, cleaning people. It’s not a small undertaking. We’ll see. Their seasons don’t have a lot of time left, but it could be a possibility before they finish.”

But as for the Cubs and White Sox, the source is more optimistic.

“I do expect to see fans in baseball because it’s outside,” the source said.

•   Well, that’s good for baseball fans. It would awesome to be able to be in a position to have fans in the United Center, SAFELY, for the spring portion of the schedule for the Blackhawks and Bulls. Especially since both teams are currently flirting with the potential of playing postseason games. Until then, we’ll see how the world plays out in the next two months.

•   If we really wanted to see fans at a Blackhawks game now, it would have to be outdoor. But having regular outdoor games for the NHL is only a once or twice a season occurrence, plus the Blackhawks have played plenty of outdoor games to sicken the rest of the league. With that in mind though, Matt Larkin of The Hockey News put together an All-Outdoor Games Team with a couple of Blackhawks mentioned on the team. Check it out!

•   Larkin also pointed out this absolutely ludicrous stat today:

•   GRIT.

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to 2015 Stanley Cup Winner Joakim Nordstrom, who turns 29 today!

•   Going off the Blackhawks trail here, but Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras is going to be a PROBLEM in the NHL.

•   Woof.

•   That’s all for now. See you tonight for Blackhawks-Blue Jackets!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.