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Pick Your Poison: A Lengthy Blackhawks Rebuild or Sputtering Oilers?



There are nights where Chicago Blackhawks fans have to grin and bear it. It’s been a long seven years since they’ve really had a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup. 2020 not withstanding, it’s the last time they made the playoffs, too. The 2020 season–had it been played out in full–wasn’t likely to produce a playoff team. As written about previously, that Blackhawks squad teased the fans and management into thinking that something was brewing.

It turned out to be a red herring. A massive one.

So it’s been a rebuild that has stripped it all down and brought it to the studs, in this case, Connor Bedard and Kevin Korchinski so far. It took shrewd trades sending franchise favorite Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa and hopeful Kirby Dach to Montreal, but it started the rebuild in earnest.

Then came a team who lost in some brutal ways and shed the franchise faces of the past to have a chance at Bedard. It worked.

But this season, though the team is saying the right things, will still have some of the same. It will be better to watch at some points, but still, like the 8-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, provide some trying moments.

And yet, among it all, my God could it be so much worse.

Just look to Edmonton.

Oilers Struggles Make Blackhawks Long Rebuild Look Tame

The generational player in Connor McDavid. An all-world one in Leon Draisaitl. High first round picks for over a decade.

Yet they’re 2-8-1 and waived their big-time free agent signing two seasons ago yesterday.

Now, we’re still early in the season and the Edmonton Oilers have shown flashes in their victories and some of the losses. But boy is there a lot to worry about.

The issues that Ken Holland showed in leaving the Detroit Red Wings as a shell of themselves have reared its ugly head in Edmonton. Gifted two of the game’s best players, Holland hasn’t been able to solve the same woes the Oilers have shown for over a decade: building around those players and winning a Cup.

But like Detroit, Holland has poorly managed the cap and worse, been unable to find the right players to put around McDavid and Draisaitl. It’s interesting because with every loss, the heat turns up and the doubt intensifies. It also doubles down that Holland’s best work was done pre-Cap when cost was no option.

It goes to show just how important it is to build the right way because a few bad moves here and there–and well, you’re a 2-7-1 contender suddenly questioning everything.

So What’s Worse?

Well, from the short view, it sure is lousy to be an Edmonton fan right now. Nothing is going right and placing Jack Campbell on waivers only adds insult to injury. They are sinking, and sinking fast. So from the long view, if this is a failure–what’s the next step? There’s far more questions than answers and worse, if indeed the Oilers cannot turn it around, it could mean a massive shakeup for a team that hasn’t enjoyed a lot of consistency.

But they play the Sharks Thursday and could very well use that as a springboard to turn things around.

Then again, maybe not. But having a team ready made to win–and struggling as such–is far worse than anything  the Blackhawks are going through.

There’s plenty of hope brimming for the future–between Bedard, Korchinski, Lukas Reichel, Wyatt Kaiser–what have you. Beyond the roster, the likes of Oliver Moore, Frank Nazar, Gavin Hayes, and Drew Commesso are also working to find their way to Chicago.

Edmonton’s season could very well end up with a parade at the end, the Stanley Cup sparkling in the summer’s sunshine.  It could also be a colossal disappointment that ushers in changes.

Whatever it may be, the Blackhawks merely on the cusp of what could be everything from contention to a dynasty–certainly have less to lose at this point.

But if there’s anything to consider–build very carefully.