At this point in the season, NHL franchises know what they are and what they are not. The Chicago Blackhawks understand that they will not be making a run for the Stanley Cup this season, and would be best served weighing options that put them in a position to succeed for the future. They are all-in on tank nation for drafting generational player Connor Bedard.
Once a darling of the hockey betting world, the Blackhawks find themselves as an easy victory for opponents who are looking to pad their victory totals.
Because they’re mired in such a tough stretch, they should strongly consider reworking their roster, and trading away franchise legends Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
It’s Going To Take Time
Unfortunately for Chicago, their descent towards the bottom of the NHL standings is not an isolated occurrence. They’ve finished with a record under .500 in three out of the last five seasons, and are all but assured of doing so again this year.
This recent track record of ineptitude indicates that the Blackhawks are a long away from contending in the NHL. They’ll need to add an influx of talent to their roster, and those players will need time to develop together over the next several years.
Too Soon Is Better Than Too Late
It’s one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports, including ice hockey. Sensational players have accomplished so much in a certain city, and ingratiated themselves with a fan base who loves them dearly. That’s the kind of resume and relationship Kane and Toews possess, and parting ways with two legends is a painful thought exercise.
If Chicago really wants to change the trajectory of their franchise, they’ll have to move one or both players as soon as possible. It’s been rumored that Toews will not re-sign with the Blackhawks when his contract expires at the end of the season, and Kane might also be out the door in that scenario as well.
The Blackhawks could decide to keep both players past the trade deadline, with hopes of bringing them back, but they risk losing two big-name players for nothing. The right business move would be to trade them to contenders soon, who will likely be willing to pay a large price for their services.
Handling the late career of legends can be tricky, but the Blackhawks won’t face a passionate backlash from their fans if they do decide to move on from Kane and Toews.
The tandem brought three championships to the organization, and their legacies are cemented with the team. Neither player has anything left to prove, and trading two 34-year-old stars for a boatload of compensation is something fans will be able to wrap their heads around.
In addition, it would take a lot for Toews or Kane to approach some of the franchise’s most hallowed records, so ending their time with the team now won’t short-circuit their pursuit of individual goals. Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull lead the franchise in games played, goals, assists and points, and their lead in those categories makes it likely that they’ll be the standard bearers forever.