Chicago Shade: Brandon Hagel’s Dad Calls the Blackhawks a ‘Dumpster Fire’

One of the trades that may, eventually, work out well for both teams was one of the first significant deals Kyle Davidson made after becoming the general manager of the Blackhawks.

On March 18 last year, Davidson traded forward Brandon Hagel (with a fourth-round pick) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk and Tampa’s first-round picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts.

The deal surprised everyone — including Hagel. In a new piece by Joe Smith at The Athletic, Hagel and his father talk about the range of emotions on that day and the year since the trade. And let’s just say Hagel’s father, Dwayne, wasn’t necessarily complimentary about the current state of affairs in Chicago.

Hagel had 21 goals in 57 games for the Blackhawks when the trade went down last year. He was stunned; his father remembers an emotional phone call that had both of them in tears. After the trade, Hagel had seven points in 22 regular-season games and then added six in 23 postseason contests.

This year, Hagel is doing for Tampa exactly what he was doing for the Hawks at the time of the deal — and he’s added some assists to the back of his hockey card. He has 22 goals and already a career-high 24 assists in 54 games. The 24-year-old forward is doing it making $1.5 million this year — and he’ll make that much again next year.

Raddysh has already established career highs in goals (14) and points (24) in 53 games in Chicago this season and has been skating in the Blackhawks’ top six all year. Katchouk hasn’t fared nearly as well, but the emphasis in this deal was the two first-round picks coming to Chicago.

The trade was one of the first really strong signals the Blackhawks were really going to burn it down and start over. Then-head coach Derek King and Patrick Kane both talked about how they liked playing with Hagel and wanted him to stay in Chicago. But Davidson saw the opportunity to add premium assets and two players to his NHL roster in the process.

Almost one year later, what does Hagel’s father have to say about the Blackhawks?

“He wouldn’t change it for the world,” Dwayne Hagel told Smith. “To be honest, Chicago is a dumpster fire. I don’t think you could script it this good, one year later. He couldn’t even imagine this was possible.”

A dumpster fire, eh?

I’m sure there will be fans that nod their heads and agree with Dwayne Hagel. Especially on the day we get to see Alex DeBrincat in a different jersey against the Blackhawks for the first time. For him to throw it out there like this is a brutally honest assessment from a hockey dad.

While the Blackhawks’ record on the ice would likely give many the impression that the embers are hot in the trash receptacle at 1901 W. Madison, the vision Davidson is casting on the future has remained consistent. He’s traded other young players many felt would be part of the next generation of stars in Chicago since the Hagel trade in an effort to truly, intentionally rebuild the franchise’s talent depth into a team that can compete for years.

It’s going to be a few years until we realize the method to the madness at the Madhouse and see the fruits of the hard labor Davidson is putting in. For now, we are stuck watching former Blackhawks in other jerseys do their thing and the Blackhawks do their best to land a top pick in this summer’s draft.

written by

Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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