The Chicago Blackhawks' Early Exit

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Stephanie Racker It was an unexpected season end for the Chicago Blackhawks. Favored by many to end up in the Stanley Cup final and some to even win, the Hawks fell short of not only the expectations of many fans and sports analysts, but also their own. In a press conference following the Hawks series defeat, General Manager Stan Bowman said, Im completely, completely disappointed. Its unacceptable to be where we are today. Its a complete failure when you measure it to the expectations we have of ourselves. He later added, Any success we experienced this year was overshadowed by the abrupt ending to our season…This is unacceptable to be where we are today. Bowman also foreshadowed what is to come for the Chicago Blackhawks organization, stating, There will be change moving forward.However, Stan Bowman made it clear that even though changes are to be made to the Blackhawks organization, Joel Quenneville will remain as head coach. As for what changes are in store for the team itself, Bowman chose to not reveal specifics. The remarks made by the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks after their embarrassing loss echoed Stan Bowmans, with players and coaches frustrated with the outcome. Nashville was the first team to sweep Chicago in a Stanley Cup Series since 1993. In fact, the Nashville Predators were the underdogs going into the series–sitting in the eighth seed of the Western Conference. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, were ranked number one. Despite the expectations that were resting on the Hawks, ultimately Nashville outplayed them. The Chicago Blackhawks have never been a team known for their skating abilities or physicality, relying more on puck possession, individual skill sets, and strong defense. Nashvilles ability to play aggressively undermined the Hawks, whom struggled to find their pace throughout their short-lived four game series. Not only were the Predators able to shut down the Hawks with gameplay, but they boast something that the Hawks are starting to lack: young talent. The truth of the matter is that the Blackhawks are an aging team. Although the organization has recruited cheaper, younger legs over the past few years, their core players are getting old–something that can no longer be ignored. Hockey is now a young mans game. Its starting to transition from being dominated by physical play and a need for size to a game that relies more on speed and skill. Not to mention that these new demands are directly correlated with the age of the players on the team. So, for teams like the Hawks, it will become more and more difficult to beat teams blessed with better skating abilities.   Bowman has always worked wonders for the Chicago Blackhawks. His ability to navigate the oppressive salary cap is one of the main reasons why Chicago has been successful in the past 10 or so years. However, Bowman will have his work cut out for him this summer and beyond, because, eventually, the Blackhawks core will become too rusty to be of any value anymore.]]>