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Blackhawks Wrap: Failure is Not An Option



It’s a big week for the Chicago Blackhawks. One that will swing from all out jubilation to then laser focused scrutiny after Connor Bedard’s name is announced.

For this week’s Blackhawks Sunday Cinema and hockey blend, CHN looks at the 1995 classic Apollo 13.  For those unfamiliar, it follows the story of four astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission who find their journey to the moon cut short due to a malfunction. The movie shifts to the rescue plan, dramatized by actor Ed Harris who plays lead flight director Gene Kranz in the movie. As scientists hypothesize how they’re going to get the doomed craft back to earth, some begin to opine that it may very well not be possible. An irked Kranz reminds them that no American had ever been lost in space, and that it wouldn’t “happen on my watch.”

He then utters the famous line: “Failure is not an option.”

A Big Week for the Blackhawks

Smaller failures will happen in the way of not every one of Chicago’s 11 draft picks panning out. It isn’t realistic to believe they’ll go 11/11. But the failure that isn’t an option is how Chicago handles the pick at #19 and beyond. Gifted the chance to bring Bedard into the fold, they have a second chance to really build out the future in finding another talented forward (or defenseman, if they really choose to go that way again) that can help them escape the rebuild faster.

Much like the failed Apollo 13 mission to the moon, the Blackhawks rebuild on the fly fell far short of expectations. They tried by drafting  young defensemen–both were traded away. Chicago then tried to acquire veterans with successful runs on other teams but with bloated salaries. That failed as well.

So Kyle Davidson, after being named the interim general manager, looked at what was and decided that the current plan for chasing a Stanley Cup wasn’t working. So he got to work changing everything from the roster to even some in the front office. He then shocked the system by trading off one significant player at a time: Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and Patrick Kane. He left  captain Jonathan Toews for last, wishing him well but saying that the future belonged to a new generation of Blackhawks.

After all of this, the Blackhawks win the right to draft first by winning the 2023 Draft Lottery. It brought a measure of relief, but it’s also added another layer of pressure.

Bedard is the easy pick–everything after is more difficult. Like Kranz and the Apollo 13 crew, there was a finite amount of time where there was a window of success. Should they be too early, or too late–it would mean the crew wasn’t coming back alive. Every detail was critical, and it took everyone to make sure success occurred knowing there would be small fixes along the way.

Obviously, the Blackhawks front office aren’t in a life or death situation here. But the parallel is similar. Bedard opens up a whole world of possibilities for Chicago, most of which is avoiding a lengthy rebuild. But they have a window of time to build around Bedard, develop talent properly, and then fix the little nuances to ensure the on-ice product wins a Stanley Cup.

This week begins what could be a renaissance for the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the first of likely three offseasons where the Blackhawks begin their transition from division dwelling to ultimately championship contending.

Like Kranz and the crew, they’ve charted their new course. But also like Kranz and the crew, failure is not an option.

The CHN Top Ten Blackhawks Stories of the Week

  1. Hockey Now Writers Mock Draft with CHN Picking 1st and 19th
  2. On Why Colby Barlow is the real deal
  3. Blackhawks’ draft picks can be used for more than their intended purpose
  4. 2015 Draft Lookback – How many teams traded up in the first round and what was the cost?
  5. Let’s Make a Deal – Trade up Options for the Blackhawks
  6. How did CHN do picking out left wing talents after Bob McKenzie’s Final Rankings?
  7. Connor Bedard on training with Connor McDavid and never trying deep dish pizza
  8. The Blackhawks, Bedard, and Building Wisely Around Him
  9. Want a more skilled forward in the draft? Here are four the Blackhawks could trade up for
  10. Blackhawks of the Future: Sam Rinzel is another blue line hopeful