Sunday, July 1st was the 2018 NHL Free Agent Frenzy. In many cities across the league, there were celebrations as teams made moves looking to rebuild or improve their rosters. Fans of several teams were ecstatic as they watched their favourite team “go all in” on the season ahead.
For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs snagged the top free agent available John Tavares. The Vegas Golden Knights signed Paul Stastny, and James van Riemsdyk signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. The St. Louis Blues also made a splash acquiring Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade.
Chicago Blackhawks Rebuild
In Chicago however, things were not quite as rosy. Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks who were still recovering from the teams recent draft were left scratching their heads. They watched the 2018 NHL draft as general manager Stan Bowman selected eight picks the weekend before. The draft picks were graded well, but they would need years to develop and did not improve their present team.
After two consecutive first-round playoff losses and then not making the playoffs last season, fans were on edge with the team’s direction. They realized that the team’s core was on the decline and had only a few years left to make another Cup run. They were disappointed in the draft but just knew Stan Bowman had a plan to help the present team recover through free agency.
Rumours were rampant with regards to the Blackhawks and potential free agent signings and trades. They had $9.2 million in cap space and potentially an additional $5.275 million if they could just trade Marian Hossa‘s contract to a team looking to get to the NHL salary cap floor. The free agent possibilities were endless if they could have made the Hossa move.
July 1st Arrives
The chatter on social media with the rumours and potential signings was out of control. Then came July 1st and the reality of what it means to be a fan of the Blackhawks. Stan Bowman made the announcements of the three players he was able to convince to sign with the Blackhawks. He signed goaltender Cam Ward, forward Chris Kunitz, and defenseman Brandon Manning.
The explosion on social media was immediate and incredible. Multiple media outlets and fans lit up Twitter with rants, tirades, and complaints about what the Blackhawks had done with their signings. Cam Ward being signed must be an omen “that Corey Crawford‘s health is still a concern.” Chris Kunitz is almost 40 and based on that age would “make a fitting addition to the Chicago Blackhawks ‘Ambassadors’ instead of on a line.” Brandon Manning “isn’t a top 4 D-man!” “Well, at least he’s over 6-foot and 200 pounds unlike the petite draft picks Bowman loves.”
Sunday’s Twitter buzz went long into the night. Based on the fans outpouring of their emotions, we were able to develop the “Chicago Blackhawks Rebuild Plan A to Z.” This pretty much sums up the thoughts of the Chicago Blackhawks fan on the moves and what it means for their team’s future.
Plan A to Z
- A – “Are you F_&*$#@ kidding me?”
- B – “Blackhawks did what?”
- C – “Cam Ward, seriously?”
- D – “Defence still sucks”
- E – “Every other team made great moves”
- F- “F-Bombs dropping all over Chicago”
- G – “Goaltending is a problem again”
- H – “How is Rocky Wirtz ok with this?”
- I – “I am at a loss”
- J – “Jonathan Toews is on his way out”
- K – “Kunitz, isn’t he retired?”
- L – “Laughter all around the Western Conference”
- M – “My team is in rebuild mode”
- N – “No playoffs or Cups soon”
- O – “On to the draft lottery again”
- P – “Please make Bowman go away”
- Q- “Q is not going to make it to game 82”
- R – “Rebuild is not going well”
- S – “Stan Bowman has got to go”
- T – “Tallon would have been better”
- U – “Unimpressed, Unbelievable, and Underwhelmed”
- V – “Victories next season = 30 tops”
- W – “Where’s John McDonough been?”
- X – “X-rated comments everywhere”
- Y – “Youth in Rockford would be better than these guys”
- z – “Zero chance to make the playoffs”
Although this is a lighthearted look into what it means to be a Blackhawks fan, there are some serious issues with this team. Their defence is suspect, their core is aging, the team has no size or grit, and their goaltending will make or break next season being successful.
The team still has just over $2 million in cap space per CapFriendly.com, and Stan Bowman will continue with his “master plan” retooling the roster. Unfortunately for many fans, he has already done enough.