Blackhawks fans have October 12 circled on their calendars and are counting down the days until the next season begins. With every new season, especially a season after an early playoff elimination and significant trades made over the off-season, there are plenty of questions running through the mind of every fan. Here are five of the many questions running through every Blackhawks fan’s head.
1. Will New Awards Provide Momentum?
Although the Blackhawks were unsatisfied after a season without a Cup, they had nothing to complain about at the NHL Awards ceremony. Patrick Kane took home the Art Ross Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and Hart Trophy, while Artemi Panarin took home the Calder Trophy. It was a historic night for the franchise and all eyes were on the two Blackhawks stars. Kane and Panarin are already known as a powerful duo in the NHL, and having the Rookie of the Year and MVP on the same line will be a force to reckon with. All that was missing from the 2015-16 season was a Stanley Cup, and the Blackhawks are more determined than ever to reclaim the Cup.
2. Will Kane and Panarin Continue to Dominate?
Although Kane has a reputation for consistency, Panarin has not had the chance to prove himself since he has only been in the NHL for one season. His first year was outstanding as he and Kane dominated scoring sheets all season long, helping each other earn points through assists. If Panarin continues to play in the 2016-17 season as he did last season, he and Kane will dominate the score sheet again this season.
3. What Will the Blackhawks Do Without Andrew Shaw?
The most surprising event of the offseason was no doubt the Andrew Shaw trade to Montreal. Shaw, who coach Joel Quenneville deemed “irreplaceable” is without a doubt a unique player. The 25-year-old plays all three forward positions well and brings a strong personality and presence to the ice, despite his small stature. He makes the most out of every shift and brings positivity to the locker room. Shaw’s absence will change the culture of the team, and it won’t be the same without him.
4. Is the Long Offseason a Blessing in Disguise?
With the early playoff elimination against the St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks had a longer off-season. There is no word on whether every member of the team took advantage of the extra time off to prepare for the 2016-17 season, but team captain Jonathan Toews posted a video of himself practicing on Instagram captioned “Longer off-season means longer training days.” Toews is known for being a strong leader and often regarded as one of the top captains in the NHL, so putting in so much effort in the off-season seems promising.
5. What Are the Chances of the Cup Coming Back to Chicago?
It is impossible to tell before the season starts, during the season, and even during the playoffs. The Blackhawks are known to bounce back after a tough playoff elimination, which helped earn two of their two most recent Stanley Cups. They are determined to reclaim their dynasty status and want the Cup more than ever. When the Blackhawks are at their best they’re unstoppable, and if history repeats itself and the Blackhawks dominate this season, Lord Stanley could be making his fourth trip to Chicago since 2010 in June.
Illinois State University graduate and lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan. I also write for The Odyssey at Illinois State and Fans Talk Sports. Other than hockey, I love to write historical fiction and nonfiction.