The Blackhawks make it clear that they're in rebuilding mode
The Blackhawks are in full damage control after an emotional two weeks that saw ...
• Them say goodbye to two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Corey Crawford.
• Them trade popular forward Brandon Saad.
• Jonathan Toews voice his concerns about the direction of the team.
• Kris Versteeg tell the Daily Herald that the Hawks should be in communication with Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook about what exactly is transpiring.
So what happened?
Not only did GM Stan Bowman have an hourlong meeting with those four veterans, he also spent 60 minutes on a podcast with two NBC SportsChicago reporters, AND the team released a five-paragraph statement to its fans.
That statement led off saying: "We recently said goodbye to a pair of popular, two-time champions and acquired some new players via trade and free agency. We understand it was tough to see those respected veterans go and realize you may have some questions about our direction. We'd like to address that direction and share why we're hopeful for the future of Blackhawks hockey."
Nothing that was said in the rest of the statement or in Bowman's interview broke much new ground.
Bottom line: The Hawks are going to give young players more of a role. Yes, those players will stub their toes at times, but in the long run it will help usher a new, winning culture into the franchise.
"Instead of trying to put more and more and more on (the veterans') backs, we're actually trying to distribute the load among a larger group," Bowman said. "We need more depth throughout our lineup. But the way to get that is we're going to develop that."
Bowman felt the conversation with Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook went well.
"It was a lot of back and forth," he said. "I certainly started the conversation, but I would say everybody weighed in with their thoughts and questions they had.
"By the time we ended the call it appeared as if there was a better appreciation for what was happening. I don't want to put words in their mouths; they can speak for themselves.
"But it was good to try and clarify anything that might have been unclear."
In the big picture, this is probably the way to go -- especially when you consider the Hawks don't exactly resemble a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup next season.
Giving young players bigger roles during a shortened season should allow their confidence to grow little by little.
Sure, it will be painful on many nights. And a last-place finish is a distinct possibility.
But what if the Hawks emerge with the No. 1, 2 or 3 pick in the 2021 draft? Adding a potential generational talent to a team with Kane, Toews, Keith, Dominik Kubalik, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, Connor Murphy and Calvin de Haan would definitely make the Hawks more of a threat.
What will defenseman Ian Mitchell look like by then? And new forward Pius Suter? What if new D-man Nikita Zadorov has taken the next step? What if the goalie situation has been solved?
Perhaps the future isn't so bleak after all.
This is what the Hawks want you to believe. That despite all the missteps -- and there have been many -- you will one day soon enter the United Center and see a team on the cusp of something special.
"You don't have to agree with all the decisions we make," Bowman said. "I hope by providing some of the background (on decisions) you can see that we're not just doing these things off the cuff. There's a lot of thought that goes into it.
"We don't get everything right. We recognize that. But we certainly need to get more right than wrong. ... We're working together to try to build this back up. That's our goal. We want to win. We want to bring great hockey back to the fans.
"They've been tremendous to us over these years."