Blackhawks Rebuild Report: ’20-’21 Regression All Around
Today we look at the 2020-21.
The Blackhawks 2020-21 Season in Review
It didn’t start as anyone expected on a number of levels. The first, a result of COVID pushing the league’s start back into January and into empty arenas. The second? Captain Jonathan Toews was out the entire season due to chronic immune response syndrome. True, the Blackhawks were just a game below an even mark, but still five points short of being in the final divisional playoff spot.
The unique season was more geographically based and only against teams within that division playing one another. It was the Bubble 2.0 which while allowing travel, still had tight restrictions. Remember the Taxi Squad? It played a prominent role in a season where Covid rescheduled games left and right.
Alex DeBrincat bounced back with 32 goals while Patrick Kane led all scorers. The only question remaining: if Toews had been able to play, would the team have found a way to make the playoffs?
In spite of having one more loss than wins, the Blackhawks would choose to go all in during the offseason. But their trade deadline moves prior to this appeared a shift into a more rebuild focused mindset. Stan Bowman collected draft picks and didn’t add anything to the roster to try and make a run.
Then the offseason happened. The offseason would see him add Tyler Johnson, Marc-Andre Fleury, and then the big one, Seth Jones for Adam Boqvist and along with first round picks. Duncan Keith would go to Edmonton via trade while Brent Seabrook’s contract was dealt to Tampa Bay.
But at that point, it didn’t seem about the roster anymore. It sure seemed like a push to distract from the horrific reports coming out.
Just three days after the Blackhawks season ended, a report broke that former video coach Brad Aldrich had been accused of sexual assault by an unnamed former Blackhawks player. From there, it snowballed as the report became more about how much the Blackhawks front office knew–and refused to act upon. By the end of June, the Blackhawks had ordered up an independent investigation.
Bowman would survive through the summer. But the momentum of Chicago’s downfall couldn’t be stopped by the sudden trade frenzy Bowman went on. No, the damage was long done and along with the reputation of those who didn’t handle the situation as it should have been, the team would suffer, too.
Disgust was wide spread and suddenly, the word rebuild had a much different meaning than it once did. It wasn’t just about the on ice product anymore.
It was about the whole organization.
Previous Pieces in the Series: Hastening the Fall (2016-17) | The End of an Era (2017-18) | Some Change But Not Enough (2018-19) | The Mirage of 2019-20