While the NHL season ended weeks ago, the Chicago Blackhawks have wasted no time in altering their roster and ultimately making fans upset. While letting go of veteran goalie Corey Crawford was a major component to fans’ negative reactions towards the team, the trade of Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche for Nikita Zadorov put the final nail into the metaphorical coffin. Saad had previously been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets after the teams successful 2015 Stanley Cup run; an event that left fans and teammates alike stunned and outraged. Now, after the team had reacquired the right-winger in the 2017-2018 season, it seemed highly unnecessary to trade him away again.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been working hard on building a younger team, the idea solidified by the recent drafts of left winger Lukas Reichel, goalie Drew Commesso, and center Landon Salggert, plus a plethora of later-round picks. It can also be noted that they recently re-signed players such as Dominik Kubalik and Malcolm Subban who had already been a part of the organization.
Eventually, the uproar of negativity from the fans apparently negated the professionalism of the team; on Oct. 20, the Chicago Blackhawks released an official statement on all social media platforms. The statement began with “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.”
The multi-paragraph message then continued to say, “The influx of youth and their progression will provide roster flexibility and depth throughout our lineup.” While the idea of new talent and more depth appealed to fans, they still were hesitant to give up their onslaught of disagreement against the organization.
While the team made a compelling argument for the reasoning behind their trades of veteran players, one question remained unanswered by fans; what about the rest of the core players? Defenseman Brent Seabrook is considered overpaid and – for lack of a better word – old. Players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have not been performing as expected. However, players like them are being paid millions of dollars per year and the organization claims they are necessary for the younger players to ‘learn from.’ To fans, it seems as though the Blackhawks are making the wrong trades and attempted improvements for the team.
Eventually, the situation worsened to the point where it was necessary for retired Blackhawk John Scott to speak out in his podcast, “Dropping the Gloves.” In an article providing a summary for the episode via TheScore, it becomes apparent that there are many different emotions being shared between the organization, fans, and players this offseason.
Scott spoke on the subject, “I would be upset if I were Toews or (Patrick) Kane, I would be embarrassed if I was the organization, and if I was a fan, I’d be like, ‘Great, I complained and they answered me, so guess what? I’m going to complain some more and they better answer me again or else I’m going to be super upset.”
John Scott continues to call the entire statement ‘embarrassing’ and claims that posting it makes the organization seem ‘weak’ and ‘soft,’ regarding it as a complete waste of time.
The battle between the organization and Blackhawks fans wages on, and at the moment, it is difficult to predict if this next season is going to be successful or go up in flames.
One thing is for certain, however; one side of this fight will be able to say, “I told you so,” by the end of it.