Blackhawks Mailbag: How Did We Get Here? An Extension for Fleury? To-Do List for Davidson, More

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Blackhawks Mailbag: How Did We Get Here? An Extension for Fleury? To-Do List for Davidson, More

Chicago Blackhawks

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Before you unplug and head outdoors to soak up this fabulous weather, let’s talk about a few of the things that landed in my Blackhawks mailbag late this week. If you don’t see your question here, I did not forget about you, I split the questions in half and I’ll be running the second half in the next couple of days!

Darron Willingham: How did we get here, Pat? The Blackhawks are bad like they were back in 2008. How do they fix this?

It’s hard to put your finger on one point in which you can say that this is how the Blackhawks got themselves into this mess (mostly because there are so many messes in the first place). But as far as their on-ice performance, Ray Ferraro pegged the whipping at the hands of the Nashville Predators in the opening round of the 2017 playoffs as an excellent place to start. It was probably the first “last-ditch effort” for the Blackhawks as we knew them in the early 2010s, and it was perhaps the right place to start a rebuild. But, Stan Bowman is Stan Bowman, and he traded a top-15 points scorer in Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets for yet another One Goal era retread, Brandon Saad.

Instead of blowing it up and building towards the future, Bowman did everything he could to re-live the glory days and just kind of sat right on top of the fence for years. Can you imagine if he would have traded Panarin for, oh, I don’t know, a massive haul of legitimate future assets? If Bowman had committed to the necessary rebuild back then, we might not be having this conversation now.

Regardless, what’s done is done.

How do they fix this? That will be the rebuild that Kyle Davidson committed to this week.

Look, I understand why the permanent hiring of Davidson didn’t move the needle for many, but I really believe that he’s the right hire, and he’s going to be a much-needed breath of fresh air for this flailing franchise.

Davidson promised a constant evaluation of the organization on and off the ice. He pledged that the stagnation that plagued this team the last half-decade would never be tolerated under his watch. It begins with the trade deadline in a couple of weeks. The cupboard is bare for high-end young talent in this system, so acquiring talent to augment the prospect depth will be essential for the on-ice product.

Off the ice, it’ll be important that Davidson surrounds himself with intelligent people that can provide him with differing viewpoints along the way. Stan’s way was the only way in the old front office, which was a significant problem.

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Matthew DeMichael: If Fleury decides to stay the rest of the season, do you see a benefit in extending him for the next two seasons at 3.5 million or less? It seems like he’d be a great influence for all the young guys, and everyone loves him. Most sold jersey for the Blackhawks this season!

I wouldn’t be opposed to an affordable extension for Fleury and I totally agree with you regarding the value of his veteran leadership and potential ability to teach young goaltenders on the roster.

The only thing I can see getting in the way would be Fleury’s desire to get the lion’s share of starts (he eventually wouldn’t if they were grooming future goaltenders), and his desire to win another Stanley Cup (which won’t be happening here any time soon). If Fleury prioritizes those two items, then I doubt he would be open to an extension here. There’s also the potential for retirement. We can’t just ignore that. And perhaps even more importantly, if he’s open to a trade before the March 21 deadline, the Blackhawks will have to consider it. The rumors are already flying.

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Hector Triplett: With the season being a mess already, what are the three things the Hawks can do this offseason to change the current issue we are having going into next season?

I’m not a fan of telling much more intelligent people than I how to do their jobs, but I think we can assume that these areas are a safe place to start for Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks:

•   Build out a competent front office
•   Acquire prospect talent and draft capital via trade
•   Figure out who the head coach is going to be.

Kyle Davidson needs first to figure out who will (and won’t) be a part of his front office. He’s already working on that as we speak, dismissing two long-tenured executives on Friday afternoon. Brian Campbell will fit into the picture somewhere even though we don’t know precisely in what capacity yet, but that’s an addition to be excited about. The scouting department will be of serious interest to me as well (long-time scout and VP of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley was one of those execs dismissed on Friday) because the Blackhawks will need to draft much better to make this work. That’s how they did it the last time (Kane, Toews, Keith, Hjalmarsson, etc.), and that’s how they’ll rediscover that success.

After that, who’s going to coach the team? Derek King has been fine since taking over for Jeremy Colliton in November. He’s 19-18-6 43 games behind the bench thus far, and Davidson called King “a viable option” to assume the full-time role beyond this season this past week. Colliton stressed that he wanted a communicator, which will be necessary for a young and developing team. Don’t be surprised if King (or someone like King with plenty of AHL experience) gets a serious look for this job. Why hire a big-name head coach when you only need a Ricky Renteria for the next few years?

Then comes the obvious (and most difficult) phase; the talent acquisition phase—young, young, young. Keep an eye on the draft, get familiar with the IceHogs, and get ready to watch some youngsters skate for a few years.

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All right, now get outside and enjoy the day!

Note: If you don’t 



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

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