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Blackhawks Look Back: A War Time Consigliere

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Editor’s Note: The Blackhawks Look Back wraps a week’s worth of stories into one final look back. Here is the inaugural edition on the long weekend.  

The Chicago Blackhawks lacked a war time consigliere. The line harkens back to the classic movie The Godfather, where a calm and collected Michael Corleone explains to the long-time consigliere of his father, Tom Hagan, that he’s out in that role.

Michael needed the right people around him to make sure those moves were executed properly.

The Blackhawks aren’t obviously dealing in the same manner as the “family”  but helming an organization isn’t for the faint of heart. The owner of a team’s ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup and have the right consigliere in the GM’s role to get them there. The right GM, will not be afraid to be aggressive when need be. They’ll also make the tough moves or make the rough calls when sometimes it’s not popular or the easiest thing to hear.

In short, they’ll make the moves that will fulfill the owner’s hope of that Stanley Cup title.

After the stunning 2016-17 sweep,  Stan Bowman seemingly made changes but all the wrong ones. In the moment, the Blackhawks needed a war time consigliere, one who would take risks but wise ones. Instead, Bowman traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus for Brandon Saad. In what would become a theme, and had already played out before, he often chose loyalty over risk.

Loyalty to the guys that once put them over the top from a time when they were winning Stanley Cups.

Bowman was hoping, to borrow another line from The Godfather, that they would “get him off the hook for old time’s sake.”

Just like the movie, it didn’t happen.

Bowman Was Not a Wartime Consigliere

A season later they missed the playoffs. 2018-19 was more of the same. The 2019-20 season was a flicker of hope, but ultimately never amounted to anything beyond a lucky series win and returning to the same rut a season later.  By 2022-23, Bowman resigned, Chicago was in full rebuild mode, and many wondered what could have been different had changes been made earlier. To be clear, as well, Bowman’s resignation was more a fallout of the Brad Aldrich sexual assault incident. But the on-ice product was clearly in decline, too.

After all was said and done, Kyle Davidson lost the interim tag and took over as the team’s general manager. CEO Danny Wirtz ultimately entrusted him to do what was necessary to bring the team back to contention. He believed Davidsion would help him carry out that vision.

He made deals at the draft to reacquire first-round picks that had been lost in previous trades. Davidson traded fan favorite Alex DeBrincat and former 2019 third overall pick Kirby Dach to get the seventh and 13th overall picks respectively. He then took on a contract (Petr Mrazek) to snag Toronto’s first and second round picks.

This season, he dealt Patrick Kane to the Rangers. Davidson explained his reasoning as to why Jonathan Toews wouldn’t be offered a new contract.

In short, he took calculated risks, never overplayed his hand, and didn’t exactly make the most popular decisions with the fanbase.

Davidson shook things up because they needed to be and it was necessary for the organization’s long term evolution. He chose the future over loyalty. Davidson made the hard calls that Bowman sometimes wouldn’t.

Now, we’ll all see whether it all works out.

A look back at what you might have missed at Chicago Hockey Now. 

Look Back to the Future

  • The Seattle Thunderbirds won their first game of the Memorial Cup, paced by their defensemen Nolan Allan and Kevin Korchinski
  • Lukas Reichel could be the real deal and he’s ready for full time duty in Chicago.
  • Beyond the numbers, Connor Bedard brings a heck of a lot to the Blackhawks
  • Andrew Cristall could be a boon at 19, but he may not make it there for the Blackhawks to even select him.

Look Back at the Season

  • Petr Mrazek still fought off injuries, but did what he was supposed to do beyond bringing draft picks aboard
  • Max Domi became a favorite for fans, and continued that momentum with Dallas
  • If the Auston Matthews chatter really turns out to be true, how could the Blackhawks factor in?

Final Thought

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