On Tuesda, the Chicago Blackhawks released the following letter to fans on their website:
“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.”
– The Chicago Blackhawks
The letter follows Jonathan Toews’ recent comments to The Athletic about being surprised by the direction of the organization after Brandon Saad was traded and Corey Crawford wasn’t re-signed.
“I’ve never been told that we were going through a rebuild,” Toews said. “That has never been communicated to me, for that matter. A lot of this comes as a shock because it’s a completely different direction than we expected.”
This obvious attempt at transparency is the organization’s way of answering not only Jonathan Toews, but the fan base as a whole. Sadly, it came only after public criticism by their captain — who should have been kept in the loop all along.
If Toews’ words are any indication, there is substantial disconnect between the front office and the remaining core players. A general manager doesn’t necessarily have to “answer” to his core players, but the least he could do is keep them abreast of the situation. He doesn’t have to seek their approval of course, but he should show them enough respect to clearly communicate the future of the organization.
Like Toews, many fans are still confused as to whether or not this will be a true rebuild or yet another “rebuild on the fly.” Saad and Crawford were jettisoned, yet recently-acquired players like Nikita Zadorov, Anton Lindholm, Mattias Janmark, and Lucas Wallmark are all in their mid to late twenties. In addition, players like Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, and Zack Smith may be impossible to move, due to their injury status and/or contracts — let alone players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Hopefully, this letter by the organization is more than a simple attempt at damage control following Toews’ comments. The fact that it took a player’s public criticism before Bowman and the organization finally addressed the future of this franchise may say more than the letter itself.