The 2023 NHL Draft gave the Chicago Blackhawks fanbase hope they haven’t experienced in nearly a decade. Beyond Connor Bedard being taken, center Oliver Moore fell to Chicago at #19. General manager Kyle Davidson didn’t have to use any of his draft picks to move up or any future assets either.
Walking away from the Draft, the Blackhawks not only sped the rebuild up quicker than originally thought–they may very well have super charged it.
But there lies the hope. For some though, hope can be a dangerous thing.
This Sunday’s cinema and hockey mashup brings in The Shawshank Redemption, which follows the life of Andy Dufresne imprisoned at a brutal penitentiary for a crime he may or may not have committed.
The Prison of a Rebuild
When we’re introduced to Dufresne, Shawshank Prison is one that bleeds out the hope out of the incarcerated. Dufresne experiences brutal abuse and the same mundane tasks that are far below the successful banking career he once had. But in a calculated risk one day after some luck puts him on a roofing job, Dufresne upgrades his status in the prison and becomes a source of hope. No matter how bad things get, and it’s dire at some points, Dufresne clings to hope as his motivation not only for himself, but for those around him.
No matter the cynicism or jealousy from others, Dufresne never breaks.
Blackhawks fans haven’t had much to cheer about for nearly half a decade. Worse, they watched a once powerful team reduced to ashes in the course of just five seasons. Nothing worked, and slowly it was all taken apart brick by brick.
It was absolutely bleak and seemingly all but hopeless until the 2023 Lottery. Hope was restored when Chicago earned the chance to draft Connor Bedard, a once-in-a-lifetime prospect. Many outside of Chicago sneered at it, cynically believing it rigged.
Now though, Chicago has a chance to tunnel out of a rebuild prison, one that has kept other NHL franchises at bay for some time. Arizona and Buffalo haven’t smelled success in over a decade, with Arizona’s one playoff appearance coming during the bubble. Buffalo might finally be emerging but they’re still on the outside looking in.
What about Detroit? 25 years of making the playoffs followed by seven seasons of nothing but losing and lousy lottery luck.
The phrase in Shawshank describing the prison walls goes like this: First you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.
So is a rebuild. Everyone hates the losing but it earns the chance at the lottery and the high draft pick. But if it doesn’t work out, it’s another year of it followed by another. Apathetic fanbases result out of years of losing, sometimes going almost a decade without seeing a winning team on home ice. In short, a rebuild is a fan’s prison and it’s poison for the sports soul.
Bedard’s Arrival Brings Hope for the Blackhawks
When the card flipped over and revealed the Blackhawks logo, those who hoped saw their faith rewarded. Many fans remained through all of it, knowing that a rough rebuild was on its way. Sure, some went the way of Morgan Freeman’s character Red and believed hope was a dangerous thing, especially after Davidson took over and was ripping it all to the ground.
They saw other franchises do it and fail to escape. In a city surrounded with rebuilds for its other teams, the psychological toll is real. Even worse, the White Sox looked so promising after collecting young talent through lots of losing–bungled it all. What looked like a World Series contender turned out to be a colossal failure.
Drafting Bedard represents the chance to finally escape. Oh, there will still be bumps along the way, the “river of shit” that Dufresne would eventually crawl through. It was approximately 400 yards and maybe it’ll be 400 more games before the Blackhawks get to a Stanley Cup Final again–roughly five years. Perhaps even sooner.
But with every game they’re one closer to getting back to where they once enjoyed. They’re appearing to make all the right moves now, and it will take time, luck, and of course, a little bit of hope.
Because hope–which is a good thing, maybe the best of things–is what will provide them that final push to finally arrive on the other side.
The CHN Top Ten
- Editor’s Choice – The Rebuild becomes Building Around Bedard
- It’s Official: The Blackhawks take Connor Bedard first overall
- Happy Connor Bedard Day, Chicago
- Don’t fret Blackhawks fans – Corey Perry will be good for Chicago
- The First Round recapped and what it means for the Chicago Blackhawks future
- Second round analysis sees hope in with all three picks
- The final rounds may have mined some gems for the Blackhawks
- What the Blackhawks get with Oliver Moore at #19
- The Blackhawks sign Ryan Donato to a two-year deal
- The Central Division certainly improved after one day of free agency