It’s been a tough month for Blackhawks fans. A couple young players have been moved and the team is all-in as they head into a full-blown rebuild with new general manager Kyle Davidson calling the shots.
Plenty of fans continue to be skeptical about the plan. And they have every right to be. We’ve heard this song before. Even if Davidson isn’t Stan Bowman, his ties to the previous regime are unavoidable.
Thus far, Davidson’s actions have been in line with his words. He’s told us (on multiple occasions) they’re going to take a step back before they can move forward into a new generation of success, and his trades of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach are in line with the philosophy he’s been preaching.
But, for a moment, let’s jump into the time machine and travel back to October of 2020. After the “success” the Blackhawks had in the bubble, Bowman and the Blackhawks appeared to transparently begin a rebuild. They went as far as to follow the Rangers’ model of telling fans where they were headed.
For those who forget, here’s the open letter the Blackhawks delivered:
“We recently said goodbye to a pair of popular, two-time champions and acquired some new players via trade and free agency. We understand it was tough to see those respected veterans go and realize you may have some questions about our direction. We’d like to address that direction and share why we’re hopeful for the future of Blackhawks hockey.
We’re committed to developing young players and rebuilding our roster. We want more than another window to win; we want to reach the summit again, and stay there — an effort that will require a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players. The influx of youth and their progression will provide roster flexibility and depth throughout our lineup.
We were already the youngest team in the 2020 playoffs and several Blackhawks experienced that intensity for the first time; this will help to further establish a culture that embraces the grind of improvement driven by competitors who are relentless, engaged and motivated by a team-first mentality to win.
As our young players develop and learn how to win consistently, they’ll make some mistakes. Inevitably, we’ll miss the mark sometimes, too, but we’ll communicate openly with you on this journey together.
We know that what comes next must be more than just words, and that inspires us.”
When you read those words, they certainly feel in line with what we’ve been hearing for the past few months. Indeed, the section in bold above could have been cut-and-paste into Davidson’s talking points this summer.
Of course, we all watched Bowman enjoy having significant cap space for the first in a decade in the summer of 2021. He spent like a drunk sailor, trading for and then signing Seth Jones to a max deal and then bringing in other veterans to help right the ship quickly.
That backfired. And we’re right back at square one with a draft-and-develop plan in motion.
While we should be encouraged that Davidson’s actions have aligned with his words thus far, it’s now on Davidson to continue down the path he’s set forth. His free agent spending — with, again, a truckload of cap space — was in line with the idea that they’re building a fast team but only committing short-term to new additions.
We’re going to be watching Davidson as he continues building his path as the Blackhawks’ general manager. And we’re all hoping that the return to prominence comes with the pieces he’s working to add to the organization.