The Blackhawks are bracing their fans for changes.
Chicago released an open letter Tuesday opening a dialogue about their commitment to “developing young players and rebuilding our roster.”
The letter, which was not signed by a member of the Blackhawks front office but as the team overall, detailed the team’s desire to win the Stanley Cup and return to the top of the NHL.
“We’re committed to developing young players and rebuilding our roster,” one portion of it reads. “We want to reach the summit again, and stay there — an effort that will require a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players. The influx of youth and their progression will provide roster flexibility and depth throughout our lineup.”
The Blackhawks were 32-30-8 before the NHL was paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chicago was the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference in the NHL’s 24-team return-to-play format and upset the No. 5 Oilers in four games to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017, when they were swept as the No. 1 seed in the West by the No. 8 Predators. The series win over Edmonton was also Chicago’s first postseason series victory since they defeated the Lightning in six games in 2015 to win their third Stanley Cup since 2010 and sixth in franchise history.
The Blackhawks’ letter is similar to what the Rangers did in February 2018 when they warned fans about a rebuild. New York sent out veterans like Michael Grabner, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash. The Rangers missed the playoffs in 2019 and selected Kaapo Kakko second overall then made the qualifying round in 2020, but were swept in three games by the Hurricanes and won the NHL draft lottery to select Alexis Lafrenière first overall.
Here’s the letter in full:
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.
We’re committed to developing young players and rebuilding our roster. We want more than another window to win; we want to reach the summit again, and stay there — an effort that will require a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players. The influx of youth and their progression will provide roster flexibility and depth throughout our lineup.
We were already the youngest team in the 2020 playoffs and several Blackhawks experienced that intensity for the first time; this will help to further establish a culture that embraces the grind of improvement driven by competitors who are relentless, engaged and motivated by a team-first mentality to win.
As our young players develop and learn how to win consistently, they’ll make some mistakes. Inevitably, we’ll miss the mark sometimes, too, but we’ll communicate openly with you on this journey together.
We know that what comes next must be more than just words, and that inspires us.