Returning to Winnipeg, U.S.-Canada Rematch, Drew Commesso, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Returning to Winnipeg, U.S.-Canada Rematch, Drew Commesso, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Think back to the last time that the Chicago Blackhawks played the Winnipeg Jets. It was November 5, a Friday night, and the Blackhawks were 1-8-2, having earned their first won of the season just a few nights prior. They put in a lackluster effort, losing 5-1. Jeremy Colliton lost his job the next day, which was exactly three years to the day that he was promoted to head coach in Chicago. In came Derek King and the Blackhawks would go on to win five of their next six games and the thought was that the season might be saved.

•   They have gone 16-15-5 since making the head coaching change. Hey, not every team can rebound from a slow start like the Avalanche did:

•   But Derek King has come into the head coaching role and got the Blackhawks playing at a better level than we were seeing early in the season. It helps that Marc-André Fleury started to play much better around that same time. But when you look at the team then, and where they are now, how much has actually changed?

•   As Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, the longer-term future of the club is still not what you would hope it could be, even if the shorter-term future did improve:

•   For a long time now, we’ve been in the mindset that the Blackhawks need to be sellers and start rebuilding the team back up, both on and off the ice. They are doing so off the ice with their current GM search, and the head coaching position will also likely be up for debate after the season. While the players think the Blackhawks shouldn’t go through a rebuild (no professional wants to go through that), whoever is leading the team as the GM should be thinking about the long-term and what it will take to get back to the top over a series of moves and decisions. There is no quick-fix with this organization the way it has been built.

•   One decision that needs to be made is what to do with Dominik Kubalík. He’s still got a lot of hockey left ahead of him in his career, but he has failed to capture the level of play he showed in his rookie season, scoring 30 goals and finishing third in Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) voting. He’s also due a hefty qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this summer. But is there any reason to keep him around?

•   Kubalík could find his form again, but is the “maybe” worth it a nearly $5M AAV? I don’t think so.

•   Speaking of trades, a big move today from Montreal with Tyler Toffoli headed to the Calgary Flames.

•   A first and fifth-round pick, plus a prospect and an NHL roster player for Toffoli to go to Calgary. Yes, the Blackhawks need to be sellers.

•   Earlier this morning Team USA took on Finland in the Women’s Olympic Semifinals. Making some history in the process was U.S. forward Hilary Knight.

•   Knight and the U.S. got on the board first against Finland with a powerplay goal from Cayla Barnes!

•   Later in the period, Knight would extend the U.S. lead!

•   The U.S. would add two more goals in the third period and get a 4-1 win over Finland and advance to the Gold Medal Final on Wednesday night.

•   There, they will meet long-time rival Canada, who beat Switzerland in their Semifinal matchup.

•   Team USA looks to defend their 2018 Winter Olympic Gold Medal against Canada, who they topped four years ago to break Canada’s previous stretch of four-straight Olympic Golds.

•   On the Men’s side, Team USA is the top-seed in the knockout round and play next on Tuesday night, where they will face the winner of the Slovakia-Germany game.

•   Team USA had Blackhawks goaltending prospect Drew Commesso in net for two of their three wins in the group stage and according to Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters, he feels that Commesso could be the goaltender that Team USA turns to for the knockout rounds:

•   Commesso has been on a tear in the past few months between his work for Team USA at the World Junior Championships and with Boston University. It would be awesome to see a Blackhawks prospect be in the spotlight for Team USA at the Olympics.

•   Speaking of prospects, former Blackhawks prospect Tim Söderlund had himself a night for Djurgården in the SHL last night.

•   A special anniversary today for the Blackhawks in pop culture as “Wayne’s World” hit the theaters 30 years ago today.

•   I sure could go for some sugar pucks from Stan Mikita’s Donuts right about now.

•   Congratulations to the Rams winning the Super Bowl last night, 23-20 over the Bengals. I was so close to looking like I know what I’m talking about…

•   Outside of the amazing halftime show, the action on the field lived up to the billing of the biggest game of the year.

•   Now for the Bears, the 2022 season officially starts…

•   A Happy Valentine’s Day to you, or a Happy Singles Awareness Day, or a Happy No. 12 Day…

•   That looks photoshopped, but it’s real.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Monday.

•   We will see you later tonight for Blackhawks-Jets in Winnipeg at 8:00 p.m. CT!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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