The Chicago Blackhawks have come a long way since last hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Half of their roster has been turned over, and the once-mighty organization is looking a little shaky.
General manager Stan Bowman has been at the helm for the last two years; in both seasons, the Blackhawks have failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs.
It seems inevitable that the Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup again with their core group of guys. The core consists of Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp.
With such talent and skill, the Blackhawks are sure to win again in the next five years, right?
If history shows hockey fans anything, it's that talent and skill alone aren't enough to win a title. In fact, it takes much more than just a core group of guys.
It takes a team that's four lines deep, with stellar defense and goaltending, all backed up by the support of its fans and organization. The general manager is responsible for planning and setting this all up with the eventual hope of winning the Stanley Cup.
Has Stan Bowman done a good enough job in his first two seasons as the Blackhawks general manager?
The plain truth is that he hasn't lived up to the high expectations that this organization has come to expect.
While the roster Bowman inherited from the Dale Tallon days might not have been the same, it is still on the GM to make some big moves to ignite his team. So far, Bowman has yet to bring in that big free agent or spark his team past the first round.
Bowman's biggest achievement could be the acquisition of young defenseman Nick Leddy from Minnesota. Leddy is a great talent who could play on the Blackhawks' top two defensive lines.
But that is marred by failed acquisitions such as Andrew Brunette, Fernado Pisani, John Scott and, yes, even Michael Frolik.
If this trend continues, the Blackhawks will not fill the holes in their lineup to supplement the core and thus will fail to make it far come playoff time.
The years ahead are uncertain and will ride on what Bowman does this summer and next season.
Keep in mind that the Blackhawks need defense, a second-line center and, possibly, a solution to the goaltending dilemma if Corey Crawford continues to play like he did last season.
Bowman's time in Chicago is running short. He must build a championship team this season or at least make it past the first round.
Then, the Blackhawks will be taking a step in the right direction.
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