The Chicago Blackhawks have finished yet another disappointing season. And while the prospects in their system are supposedly promising, it’s hard for Hawk fans to get excited after being beat down the last decade.
The Blackhawks finished with 71 points, fifth from the bottom. They were 25 points behind the eighth playoff spot and they scored the second fewest goals in the league. They were also dead last as a team in assists. So much for this year’s slogan “All For One.”
Thankfully star winger, Martin Havlat, is signed to a long deal. Because after seeing the typical Blackhawks mold for a season, he has to be wishing he hadn’t locked himself into such a situation. But the Hawks need to sign some talent this off-season if they want to keep Havlat happy and in Chicago. Havlat led the Hawks in every major statistical category. So it is in the team’s best interest to ensure that he doesn’t go anywhere.
Three things need to happen next season for this team to be successful. Well, at least three. But these are the top three.
1. Get Havlat some help.
This is a must. Michael Handzus has all but said he doesn’t want to come back. That’s real bad since he only played in eight games. So the Hawks will need a top flight center and, if they want to seriously contend next season, one more scoring winger. Some are hoping that the kids in the system will step up next season. That would be great but they can’t have all the pressure on them. Three legitimate scoring threats on offense would greatly help ease that burden and allow them to grow at a slower pace.
2. Better Defense, or as the Canadians say, Defence
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are solid and will remain solid. But if the team has another year with Adrian Aucoin, Jassen Cullimore, and Jim Vandermeer back there, Khabibulin is going to get creamed again. Cullimore has another year left on his contract but he needs to be bought out. He can’t compete in this new NHL at all and is a huge black hole back there. Aucoin isn’t much better but if they had more talent there then they could hide him more easily.
3. Ruutu, shoot the damn puck
Tuomo Ruutu only had 115 shots in 71 games. That’s not nearly enough from someone who is supposed to be a superstar. Ok, ok, maybe he’s more of a setup guy. No, that’s not true either. He managed only 21 assists all season. So what does he provide? Well, he hits people a lot. Which is always good. But he needs to shoot the puck. Preferably, at the net. It’s getting to the point where he needs to show the Hawks he was worth the wait or the Hawks need to cut bait. And that rhyme was just a coincidence.
There are many more needs the Hawks have to improve this team before next season. But until The Heckler starts paying in real U.S. currency instead of Monopoly money and cheap scotch this reporter is done.
Until next year, Go Cubs.