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Calculated Patience Still Takes Precedence for the Blackhawks Offseason

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There’s always that reminder here and there that causes a slight tap of the brakes. While the Stanley Cup Playoffs proceed to its crescendo with the Cup, the Blackhawks have an offseason that ahead that can help set the course for a return to that Cup chase.

Every now and then on social media, there’s a post that causes pause. A family member sent me this one–a diehard Blackhawks fan who wants the team to return to those glory days. But one who wants it to be done properly.

Context is everything and the 2016-2017 Buffalo Sabres sure looked like they were turning a corner with a young stable of players. A foundational player in Jack Eichel in his second full season. Some strong players in Ryan O’Reilly, and Evander Kane. Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe on the rise. Future Vezina winner Linus Ullmark between the pipes.

Sure, that iteration of the team slipped a bit in points from a year prior–but it was a mere hiccup on their way to what would finally be an escape from the rebuild wilderness.

But that bit of slippage cost then general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma their jobs. A season later, the Sabres fell off a cliff and were picking first overall again in the draft.

That rebuild lengthened–and many of those players on the roster went on to bigger and better things elsewhere.

Sabres Continue to Provide A Cautionary Tale for the Blackhawks

There’s been a fair share of ink spilled here on the Sabres rebuild and what lessons they can provide for the Blackhawks. But the post on X shows how yes in hindsight, things aren’t always as bad as they seem.

Then again, it’s hindsight. O’Reilly would be traded to St. Louis but would bring Tage Thompson, who has been a revelation. Eichel was shuttled to Vegas but brought Alex Tuch in, who led the team in points this past season for the Sabres. They fired another coach, and are at their crossroads once more–but will it yield different results?

The Blackhawks are at the start of their first crucial offseason in building back–where significant improvement is expected. That falls on general manager Kyle Davidson, who has shown skill in acquiring key pieces through trades. His patience with development (Alex Vlasic as an example) has also hit the bullseye.

But as written previously, the hard part starts now. How do you avoid those spiral rebuilds–the ones that seem to never end and just recycle coaches, players, and front office members?

Consistency–and patience. The Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals all went through some stretches of uncertainty following rebuilds. All three emerged with a Stanley Cup.

But there were certainly some tough decisions when at the crossroads. But calculated patience ruled and ultimately nudge things along.

Blackhawks fans eyes have certainly widened as the array of potential free agents include some exciting names, trades can be had with capital to bring in some serious talent, and Chicago sits with the second overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Wise shopping along with trade bargains takes precedence–similar to what the Blackhawks have been doing more as sellers. As their vantage point shifts, the same patience for the “right deal” should still be front and center.

Things must move forward as written many times before. But it’s the consistency, and patience in the process that will help the Hawks avoid Buffalo’s fate–and return to playoff hockey.

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