The Blackhawks Week That Was and Will Be, 2/24: Pack Your Bags

A quick check-in before a pair of weekend games.

Bobby Hull had to go.

It’s true now in 2022 and it’s been true since he was hired as an ambassador by the Chicago Blackhawks. Anything he did on the ice was overshadowed by his horrendous words and actions off the ice. That he was around for so long was an embarrassment for this organization.

It’s never too late to do the right thing, and it’s a relief that the the Blackhawks finally arrived at that conclusion. It’s hard to find any reason to give credit or praise because of how long it took for this choice to be made — and the tumult of the last year had to be an influence on this decision. In a vacuum, this decision isn’t much more than picking off the lowest hanging fruit. But if it’s one of many steps towards this franchise going through the top-down cleaning that it so badly needed in the light of what’s progressed over the last year, then we can find some more solace that their actions are matching their words.

The Week That Was

The Blackhawks apparently need to work on their home-cooking recipes.

Thursday, Feb. 17: Blue Jackets 7, Blackhawks 4

Ending up in a track meet when your goalie is a 22-year-old making his second career NHL start is not a sound strategy.

Friday, Feb. 18: Stars 1, Blackhawks 0 (SO)

Full disclosure: missed this entire game. It appears the offenses did as well.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Panthers 5, Blackhawks 2

Another one of those games that didn’t feel like too bad of a performance from the Blackhawks, they were just outdone by a better team.

And now, for a possibly recurring feature here at TBWTWAWB:

Stop worrying about Lukas Reichel’s contract.

It’s chatter that pops up whenever Reichel makes his way up to the NHL, as he did last week. The discussion revolves around whether or not Reichel should stay at with the Blackhawks this season, which would ultimately burn the first year of his entry-level contract in a “lost season.”

If the motivation is keeping Reichel down in Rockford as part of the long-term development plan, that’s fine. If the motivation is keeping Reichel down in Rockford to save a year on his entry-level contract, that’s not fine.

If Reichel is good enough to stick at the NHL level, financial reasons should not be a factor. Start off with the reality of the Blackhawks salary cap situation: even if Reichel needs a new contract in the summer of 2024, the lengthy Toews and Kane contracts will have expired and probably won’t be at $10.5 million if they stay in town. Alex DeBrincat will need more money by then and Seth Jones’ deal will take full effect, but even those two deals shouldn’t be salary cap back-breakers. This isn’t 2016 anymore.

Salary cap concerns should be a luxury only afforded to teams that are actually, ya know, winning. This team hasn’t been relevant for damn near seven full seasons now and you want to worry about an entry-level contract? To hell with that. If the kid can play, get him up to the NHL and let him play. The same principle should apply with any young player in the system. Brent Seabrook’s albatross of a deal was his FOURTH in the NHL. Toews and Kane hit $10.5 million on their THIRD. And those three racked up more on-ice accolades than the overwhelming majority of players in NHL history.

And you want me to be concerned about Reichel’s SECOND contract? C’mon, man.

Hold Up a Light

Speaking of Reichel: these lines from Thursday’s practice are intriguing.

As LBR mentioned in Wednesday’s massive prospect update, Reichel has been primarily on a line with Kane in his limited NHL appearances. According to Natural Stat Trick, Reichel has spent 49:21 of 5-on-5 ice time with Kane and just 6:07 without. But in those forward combinations above, the two are separated and opponents will almost certainly throw their best defensive weapons at the top line of Kane with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. That leaves Reichel a chance to flourish on the second line. Have Brandon Hagel hunt the puck down, get it to Reichel and then set up Kubalik for a goal. Seems like it’d work pretty well in theory, doesn’t it?

The Week That Will Be

A weekend double-dip that hopefully yields better results than the first three games of the homestand.

Friday, Feb. 25 vs. New Jersey Devils

Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. St. Louis Blues

DeBrincat’s 50-goal chase (catchier name still TBD)

DeBrincat’s pace dropped over a goal over the last week.

Last Week: 3 games, 1 goal

Season Totals: 52 games, 29 goals

Current Pace: (29 goals / 52 games played) * 82 games = 45.73 goals

Feels like we’re due for another DeBrincat goal-scoring binge soon.