A GM Decision Expected this Week? Building Dach's Confidence, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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A GM Decision Expected this Week? Building Dach’s Confidence, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

As Mario has stepped out of his role at Bleacher Nation, I (Patrick) will be taking over your Blackhawks bullets for at least the next several weeks. Hi! Let’s go.

•   With just about three weeks to go until the NHL’s March 21 trade deadline, the expectation is that there will be a decision made on the team’s ongoing GM search as soon as this week. Last week Elliotte Friedman reported that the search had been narrowed down to interim GM Kyle Davidson, Mathieu Darche, and Jeff Greenberg.

•   By the time they decide, the new Blackhawks GM will have just about two weeks and some change to determine a plan of action for the trade deadline and execute it. Theoretically, that should work in the favor of interim GM Kyle Davidson, and that’s reportedly the way CEO Danny Wirtz is leaning. But it’s also frustrating to rush such an important long-term decision because of the impending trade deadline (even though it may be necessary). With all that said, Mathieu Darche still seems like a realistic possibility, given that he’s a current hockey executive and one with a track record of success in Tampa Bay.

•   While Jeff Greenberg of the Chicago Cubs has reportedly interviewed very well, I’d imagine that he’s on the outside looking in, despite being named as a finalist by Friedman last week. The Blackhawks have a daunting task ahead of them (both in the extreme short-term and multi-year horizon), and it just seems like a lot to ask of a candidate with zero hockey front office experience. The argument, of course, is that a fresh perspective is exactly what the Blackhawks need. But if they were to go that route, I’d like to see Greenberg paired with Davidson as an assistant GM. This upcoming deadline is just too important.

•   Moving towards the ice, this weekend was a mixed bag of results for the Blackhawks with a wild 8-5 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday, followed by a dud of a Sunday matinee at home against the St. Louis Blues. Let’s start with Patrick Kane, who logged the first of TWO hat tricks for the Blackhawks on Friday night.

•   The hat trick gave Kane 16 goals on the season, making him the first American-born player in NHL history to have 15+ goals in each of his first 15 seasons, per ESPN Stats & Info.

•   Kane’s hat trick marked his second straight multi-point game after he logged an assist and a goal in a loss to the Florida Panthers on February 20. Now, Kane has seven points in his last five games and 53 on the season.

•   Brandon Hagel also recorded a hat trick on Friday night, giving the Blackhawks their first multi-hat trick game since Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan did it on March 9, 2003. As the Blackhawks Twitter account noted on Friday night, Patrick Kane was playing 14U hockey for the Buffalo Saints in 2003, and Brandon Hagel was just four years old.

•   P.K. Subban took exception to Hagel and the Blackhawks running it up on the Devils in the waning minutes of this one and decided to trip Brandon Hagel from behind with his signature slew-foot that has landed him – off the top of my head – at least two prior meetings this season with the NHL Player Safety Department. Hagel was not a fan of the hit and made it known after the game:

•   Before we move on to Sunday’s contest with St. Louis, let’s take a look at Kirby Dach’s goal against the Devils, his eighth of the season:

•   Dach had an opportunity to force a pass to Hagel on the 2-on-1 break, but he opted to keep it himself. He stuffed the back-hand shot behind Jon Gillies – a decision draped in the type of self-confidence that has eluded Dach for most of the season. Dach is plenty skilled; he needs to remind himself of that and start to act like it. Hopefully, this goal is a step in the right direction.

•   The former No. 3 overall pick in 2013 has been at the center of much criticism this year. And unfortunately, it’s not entirely unjustified: Dach has been terrible (33.2%) on the draw and has only 21 points in 51 games (8 goals and 13 assists). There’s been much discussion about Dach likely being better suited at a wing position moving forward, and that might be true, but for now, building up that confidence – at either position – is going to be key.

•   All right, let’s move on to Sunday’s loss to the Blues and pick up where we left off with Kirby Dach taking more shots and building his confidence in his skills. Dach took six shots against the Blues with four on net, and while he didn’t light the lamp, it was nice to see Dach continue to shoot the puck.

•   As Ben Pope pointed out in his Blackhawks notebook on Sunday, “before January 25, Dach’s shot share — the percentage of Hawks shots during his even-strength ice time that he attempted — was 17.2%. Since then, it’s 22.8%. And Dach’s expected-goals share has risen from 23.3% to 28.7%.”

•   But, Dach’s continued aggressiveness was about the only bright spot on Sunday, as the Blackhawks were shut out by the Blues at the United Center, the third time they’ve hung a doughnut on the scoreboard at home this month and their second loss to the Blues this month.

•   The City of Chicago has lifted the vaccination and masking mandates for indoor spaces within the city, but the United Center has decided to continue to require fans attending both Blackhawks and Bulls games to show proof of vaccination upon arrival. The United Center noted that masks will now be optional at the United Center in a release.

•  The Rockford IceHogs have also released a statement on their updated COVID-19 policies at the BMO Harris Center:

•   The Blackhawks roster shuffle continues:

•   That’s it for today. Enjoy the Spring-ish weather we’re in for this week!



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.