Blackhawks Turnaround


Kyle Platt

Near the beginning of this season, Blackhawks fans were starting to get a little worried as their beloved team seemed to be following a steady, downhill path. After a mediocre 6-6-3 start to the season, the Hawks decided to fire legendary coach Joel Quenneville. The firing came as a surprise to most, and caused some outrage to some as Quenneville had created a lengthy resume throughout his career, much of it coming from behind the Blackhawks´ bench. He won three Stanley Cups with the Hawks, along with 890 total career wins, the second most all time.

This caused much skepticism for Hawks fans as their long-time coach and his famous mustache were being replaced by Jeremy Colliton, a “kid” about half his age. Colliton ended his own playing career, which consisted of a short stint in the NHL and back and forth travel between the AHL and European leagues, in 2014. Soon after, he began his coaching career and was named the Rockford Ice Hogs head coach in 2017 before being called up to the Blackhawks at the beginning of the 2018 season. Colliton’s inexperience was a fear to many who saw that fear being realized as the Hawks went 3-10-2 during his first 15 games behind the bench. The Blackhawks struggles continued, and their downhill trend found them in the last spot in the league in December.

Following the All-Star break in late January however, things started to turn around. The Hawks actually started to win games, including a seven game win streak which helped propel their position in the standings from last in the Western Conference to fighting for a wild card spot. It seems as though Colliton’s methods are starting to finally click as the Hawks have heavily increased their offensive production. Some of this can be attributed to new additions to the team, including Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat’s linemate for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, and Drake Caggiula who has joined long time Hawks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the Blackhawks top line. Playing together once again after years together in juniors, Strome and DeBrincat have found some of their old chemistry, especially on the power play which was big struggle for the Hawks at the beginning of the season.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the Blackhawks’ turnaround, however, is due to the remarkably consistent play of Patrick Kane. The long time all star has managed to play exceptionally well throughout the year, and he has maintained steady point production despite how much his team has struggled. Kane’s already stellar play has improved along with his team’s, as he recently recorded a staggering 20 game point streak, during which he scored 17 goals and had 26 assists. Although that streak may have ended, Kane’s MVP caliber season doesn’t look like it is slowing down anytime soon.

Despite a shaky start to the season, the Blackhawks have managed to make a remarkable turnaround which involved contribution from new faces, as well as continued high level performance from long time stars. So, while they may not be the dynasty quality team that Chicagoans remember from years past, fans shouldn’t start to worry about the Hawks quite yet.