Chicago Blackhawks: Valiant Effort in 2007-08

Tony HagenContributor IApril 4, 2008

Blackhawks have no reason to hang their heads

There is something to build on

As the year started off many of us realized that parity in the NHL was catching up to all the teams and it seems to be more true now than ever. Powerhouses of the past are just that, gone are the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and the New York Islanders. Now each team has the same chance as the next. The salary cap has evened all that out and Chicago is no exception.

I liked Chicago’s chances coming out of the 06-07 season and thought the season would be a thing of total beauty. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, a healthy Williams and Havlat would be the wonder tools the Blackhawks needed to get into the playoff’s for the first time since the 01-02 season. Havlat went down early in the season only to come back and go down again. Williams missed a ton of games and then just sort of fell off pace.

At the beginning of the year and the Blackhawks has knocked off the Red Wings for straight games, well it made one wonder of they were for real. A promising beginning for sure. I pulled for them all season and really wanted them to make the playoffs. Well it was not mean to be. So whats next for the Blackhawks?

Tallon, Savard, Wirtz and McDonough will have to take a long hard look at what they have and what they need. I did hear Williams has fallen out of favor with Savard and his minutes were cut because of a lack of effort. Will Williams be the next on the chopping block? Yanic Perreault, Kevyn Adams, Andrei Zyuzin are all unrestricted free agents (UFA). Perreault is one of the best face-off men on the ice and yet he failed to preform as expected. Again Williams was a disappointment for the club and Robert Lang did not have the season they expected either. Lang did score 21 goals this year and could be a solid leader for this club. I am sure the front office has already identified what they need now it’s a matter of going out and getting it.

Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough have brought excitement back to hockey in Chicago and fans are back to loving their team. A new television deal has been completed and all the Blackhawks games will be on television for the first time since anyone can remember. There is life in this franchise and there is heart and sole within the Blackhawks players.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have brought the excitement into Chicago like Ovechkin has in Washington and Crosby in Pittsburgh. These two have great promise in the rough and tough world of the NHL and will bring fans to their feet more times than not. Kane and Toews are among the top rookies currently at first and third in the league.

Lets not forget the transformed Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien went from a defense position to playing forward for most of the season. As a defensemen he manged to score a hat-trick this year, a feat that does not happen with defensemen that often. He is a big kid, plays to his strong points and is next to impossible to move off the puck. He bring grit and toughness to a team with a lot of smaller players.

It is imperative that the Blackhawks front office make a strong effort get solid veteran players for these young kids. Give them leadership and I for one think the lack of a captain on this team has contributed to their lack of leadership and loosing Lapointe to Ottawa took a ton of leadership away from this club. So lets make someone the captain and get this team solidified for next year. Sure we would love to have seen the Blackhawks playing into June, well we can only hope for the Blackhawks arriving to the post season in the 08-09 season.