The Chicago Blackhawks Decade of decline began back in the 2009-10 season. That season would see the Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. It was by far the greatest season ever for the Original Six franchise. That night in Philadelphia when Patrick Kane made the shot of his young life brought both cheers and tears of joy to the eyes of Blackhawks fans everywhere.
That season would also begin a decade like no other for the hockey fans in the city of Chicago. What followed was three Cups in six seasons for the team. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse after the last Cup in 2015. Today we will look at what happened to the franchise during the Blackhawks decade of decline.
Chicago Blackhawks Decade Of Decline
We will first compare records for the Blackhawks decade from 2009-10 to the present. Listed below you will see each season broken down with their record and any playoff results
- 2009-10 – 52-22-8 = 112 pts. Won Stanley Cup
- 2010-11 – 44-29-9 = 97 pts. Lost Conference Quarter-Finals
- 2011-12 – 45-26-11 = 101 pts. Lost Conference Quarter-Finals
- 2012-13 – 36-7-5 = 77 pts. Won Stanley Cup
- 2013-14 – 46-21-15 = 107 pts. Lost Conference Finals
- 2014-15 – 48-28-6 = 102 pts. Won Stanley Cup
- 2015-16 – 47-26-9 = 103 pts. Lost First Round
- 2016-17 – 50-23-9 = 109 pts. Lost First Round
- 2017-18 – 33-39-10 = 76 pts. No Playoffs
- 2018-19 – 36-34-12 = 84 pts. No Playoffs
- 2019-20 – 24-21-6 = 54 pts. Three points out of a Wild Card spot
As you see, the Blackhawks decade kicked off with a historic start. The team would then win three Cups in the decade before tailing off. Regardless of how they finished the decade, the NHL named the Blackhawks the “Franchise Of The Decade” as part of the NHL celebration of the 2010s. For more on this check out this from Tracey Myers of nhl.com:
“As the Chicago Blackhawks celebrated their 2010 Stanley Cup championship against the Philadelphia Flyers in June of that year, they reveled in knowing they had ended decades of frustration with their first Cup in 49 years.
But it was just the beginning of what would be an outstanding stretch for the Blackhawks, who were voted NHL franchise of the decade by NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members.”
The Blackhawks decade was quite an accomplishment, especially in the salary cap era. They achieved more success for the city of Chicago than every local sports franchise except the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls “Repeat Three-peat” in the 90s is unmatched in Chicago and will never be topped.
Celebrating the Blackhawks’ success must also include a review of what happened to the franchise during the decade of decline. How does a team go from three Cup wins to two first-round defeats, to no playoffs for two seasons? That answer begins with a review of the Blackhawks draft history.
Blackhawks Draft History
The topic of the Blackhawks draft history is usually a controversial one. What we are going to do is lay out the facts of who the Blackhawks drafted since 2009-10. These drafts would be critical in continuing the success since the team’s Cup win in 2010. Any successful franchise must draft well to keep the team stocked with prospects that can move up the NHL.
The ability to draft successfully fuels a team facing salary-cap dilemmas in the modern era. You draft a prospect, give them time to learn the game, they then earn a spot on the roster and contribute in the NHL. Unfortunately, most prospects chosen do not make it to the show. A lot of them end up making a living playing in the AHL, the KHL, or in Europe.
We will look at the Blackhawks draft picks in the first three rounds only for this review. Rounds four through seven contain long shots that rarely make it to the NHL. Listed below we will have each draft and the players selected.
- 1st – Kevin Hayes RW
- 2nd – Ludvig Rensfeldt LW, Justin Holl D, Kent Simpson G, Stephen Johns D
- 3rd – Joakim Nordstrom C
- 1st – Mark McNeill C, Phillip Danault LW
- 2nd – Adam Clendening D, Brandon Saad LW
- 3rd – Michael Paliotta D, Klas Dahlbeck D
- 1st – Teuvo Teravainen C
- 2nd – Dillon Fournier D
- 3rd – Chris Calnan RW
- 1st – Nick Schmaltz C
- 2nd – no pick
- 3rd – Matheson Iacopelli RW, Beau Starrett C/LW
- 1st – no pick
- 2nd – Graham Knott LW
- 3rd – Dennis Gilbert D
- 1st – no pick
- 2nd – Alex DeBrincat RW, Chad Krys D, Artur Kayumov LW/RW
- 3rd – Wouter Peters G
- 1st – Henri Jokiharju D
- 2nd – Ian Mitchell D
- 3rd – Andrei Altybarmakyan RW, Evan Barrett C
- 1st – Adam Boqvist D, Nicolas Beaudin D
- 2nd – no pick
- 3rd – Jake Wise C, Niklas Nordgren RW
- 1st – Kirby Dach C
- 2nd – Alex Vlasic D
- 3rd – no pick
If you are like most people reading this, you’re probably thinking “who are these guys?” as you scan the draft lists. Or, “we drafted a guy named Ludvig?” when taking a second look. You may also be wondering why some of the players who have been productive are not still with the team? Kevin Hayes is playing for the Flyers, Joakim Nordstrom the Boston Bruins, Phillip Danault the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan Hartman the Minnesota Wild, and the biggest loss of all Teuvo Teravainen is having a great career with the Carolina Hurricanes.
All of these players were dealt away by the Blackhawks except Kevin Hayes who chose to not sign with the team after being drafted in 2010. The rest of the players round out the list of those who did not make it in the NHL. This lack of success drafting combined with trading players who have become productive elsewhere helped lead to the Blackhawks decade of decline.
Post-2015 Stanley Cup
The disappointing seasons since 2015 can directly be tied to the lack of successful prospects drafted and the trades. It is at this point that the discussion of the Blackhawks drafts usually turns contentious. Daring to question the draft choices is considered heresy by those who justify their position by pointing out the team won three Cups! While this is true, the last four seasons are certainly disappointing considering the high standards set by the previous six.
These defenders of the team we will call “Bowman Apologists” for lack of a better name. They get angry and argue that the team has had tremendous success drafting under general manager Stan Bowman. All you have to do is look above at all of the names and cite those draft prospects currently playing for the team. The five drafts from 2010-2014, Brandon Saad is the only player currently contributing. The five drafts from 2015 to the present is slightly better with DeBrincat, Boqvist, and Dach playing this season. These drafts results cannot be considered acceptable no matter how you feel about Bowman.
The next argument made is that Bowman has had incredible success drafting in late rounds. For the sake of argument, we looked at rounds four and beyond too. Since 2010 the Hawks found Andrew Shaw who was drafted in the fifth round in 2011. Other than him there is Vinnie Hinostroza drafted in the sixth round in 2012, but he now plays for the Arizona Coyotes. Dylan Sikura drafted in the sixth round in 2014 but he has not been able to stick with the team. There is also Matt Tomkins drafted seventh round in 2012 and was recently signed to an entry-level contract. The Tomkins story is just beginning it appears.
Blackhawks Decade – Bright Spots
Kane hits 1000
Patrick Kane became the fourth Blackhawk in team history to hit 1000 career points this past Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets. Kane joins elite company along with Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Denis Savard in the 1000 point club. These three NHL Hall Of Famers and future Hall Of Famer Patrick Kane will forever be remembered by the Blackhawk faithful as true legends. Kane was also honored by the NHL as scoring the “Goal Of The Decade” with his Cup-winning goal in 2010.
Then came the emotional tribute to Kane at home Tuesday night at the United Center. He was honored pre-game with a video montage of his highlights showing some of his biggest goals and points scored during his career. He was then presented with a gold puck honoring the 1,000 points by his first coach Denis Savard. That would not be the last of the emotional moments that night.
As fate would have it, the game Tuesday night was against the Florida Panthers who are now coached by Joel Quenneville. Coach Q was also honored by the NHL as the “Coach Of The Decade.” His three Stanley Cups and incredible coaching record brought him the much-deserved honor.
Tuesday night’s game was circled on the schedule well before Kane’s milestone and the NHL honor bestowed on him, the Blackhawks, and Quenneville. It was Q’s first return to Chicago since his dismissal last season. Emotions were running high and then during the first TV timeout a video tribute to Coach Q was played and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Sadly, the Blackhawks fans watching at home did not see the video that was played to the crowd honoring Quenneville. Somehow NBC Sports Chanel went to commercial instead of capturing the moment. They have since apologized for their mistake but many are still not happy. Luckily the Fox Sports Chanel in Florida carried the tribute live and shared it on social media immediately. If you missed the video, you can view it by clicking: HERE
Blackhawks Decade Of Decline Wrap Up
The story of this season is not finished. The team has been playing a lot better since bottoming out in December. Their ability to continue winning will be key to whether Bowman makes any moves to improve the roster and make a playoff run. The team was in a similar situation last season and Bowman stood pat at the NHL Trade Deadline. This season the deadline is February 24th. What will the beleaguered general manager do this year? There is some cap room due to players being on long term injured reserve but will the team want to take on a rental? Things will definitely be interesting as the season resumes after the NHL All-Star break and Last Word On Hockey will be there to cover it for you.
ST. PAUL, MN – FEBRUARY 10: Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88), left, and center Jonathan Toews (19) before the faceoff in the 1st period during the Central Division game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild on February 10, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)