It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most successful franchises in the NHL. They are a well-oiled machine with all gears working in unison. They play each game hard with the notion that they will come out with the two points and the fan base surrounding them is a tight knit group. Upon analyzing a team, one can break it down into multiple subgroups that define their success.
There is a lot of teamwork to make a hockey club a winning one. There’s also a lot of individual effort and results of prominent members of the team’s management, coaching staff, players and community that play an important part when defining success. Let’s dig a little deeper and examine the top five reasons why the Hawks have been such a dominant team in the past few seasons in no particular order.
5. The Media
Yes, the media. We all know that Toronto is considered the media hub for the NHL, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only team that has a large media following. A big part of the success of the Blackhawks is from newspapers, bloggers, reporters, journalists and the like. They establish credibility among the team and relay information to the community.
The media brings you breaking news about the club and makes the players more relatable to the average fan, allowing the Blackhawks to be their team. In a sense, the fans are able to be fans because of the information they get on a daily basis about anything involving the team.
4. The Fans
There was a time when the Blackhawks did not perform too well. Yes, they had their ups and downs but it seems like there were more downs than ups before the team regained control. Their last Cup came in 1961 so it was understanding that some fans may have tuned out with the lack of winning and competitiveness from the club.
Once the tires met the asphalt things picked up steam. And I am not diminishing the fact that there have been loyal fans through it all because I know there has been. But this is for the average citizen of Chicago that found hope again in their hockey team. Since the 2008-09 season, the Hawks have averaged more than 20,000 people in attendance each game — good for a top three position in the league attendance-wise during that time. The fan base is committed to the team because they are fans of the Blackhawks — a team loaded with history and superstardom.
From the ground up, the Blackhawks were built with one purpose and one purpose only, to be the best franchise in the NHL. A lot of the credit has to go to Rocky Wirtz, the owner and Chairman of the club. He has built the team around a motto that exemplifies success since he seized control of operations in 2007. He got the team back on track, essentially turning the franchise into one of the very best in the league. The team got better and the fans noticed as he reignited the fire that had gone out in Chicago.
Another gear in the wheel is the team’s Vice President and General Manager, Stan Bowman. He had been with the Hawks since 2001 when he worked as a special assistant to the GM eventually leading him to his current role as GM. He drafted well, picking up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in back-to-back seasons who have carried the team offensively since their respected debuts. Throughout the successful years, the franchise has enjoyed under his leadership, the young stars continue to flock because of the development system he has installed.
Both men have been with the team in their quest to become the first modern day dynasty, post salary cap, benefiting from their three Stanley Cup championships in six years.
2. Joel Quenneville
A team can have a lot of talent on the ice but will run around like a chicken with its head cut off without the proper guidance and leadership. Just look at the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015-16 season before they hired Mike Sullivan as head coach. The team was at 15-10-3 when they fired Mike Johnston — pretty bad for a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel in their lineup. We all know how the cinderella story turned out in the end with the Penguins winning the Cup.
It’s no coincidence that Quenneville began coaching the Hawks in the 2008-09 year as that’s right when the team started to turn around. The system put in place by coach ‘Q’ has allowed players like Toews, Kane, Keith and Panarin to shine. He is one of two coaches with over 800 wins in NHL history, joining elite company in Scotty Bowman, ironically the Hawks GM’s father. He has guided the team to three Stanley Cups in his tenure and with the way they’re playing, it could be more.
1. Elite NHL Talent
Obviously, when taking into account a team’s success in any sport, you need to discuss the guys that are actually playing, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. This team has been blessed with elite offensive, defensive and goaltending talent for a while. But for the purposes of making my point as clear as day, I will only go back to the 2008-09 season when Quenneville took over.
The likes of Corey Crawford, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Toews, were all on the roster then and are still now. Think back and you’ll remember that Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg were all a part of this developing team too. The point is that management has iced incredible players over the past decade for the franchise, which has won them some hockey games, not to mention, three Cups.
The team is still stocked with star talent in their current lineup as well as in their development system. They are trending upward and climbing at a pace that may not be matched for some time by another team in the league.