On Saturday night, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 to secure their third tip to the Stanley Cup Finals in the past six years.
It’s almost unbelievable what this team has been able to accomplish since the 2009 season when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals before being defeated by the Detroit Red Wings in five games. The biggest question is, with them getting to the finals again, does this make them a dynasty?
What Is a Modern Day Dynasty?
Before we answer if they are a dynasty, we first have to understand what the terms of being a dynasty in this age of hockey means. Firstly, you can’t compare what the Blackhawks are to, say, what the 1980’s Islanders were, or the latter Edmonton Oilers were. Those were different times. Back in those days, building teams was much easier, and goal scoring was through the roof. It’s absolutely true that they are each dynasties in their own right, but the way Chicago has dealt with the salary cap, while acquiring and drafting players has been remarkable.
The modern-day dynasty in hockey is so difficult to accomplish, and is a very tough road to get that constant sustainability. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the architects of building through the draft by getting Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby in three consecutive drafts. Chicago understood what the Penguins did, and selected Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane back-to-back drafts.
After that, it was all about managing their contracts as well as acquiring assets to help build around the core. They have guys like Norris trophy defensemen Duncan Keith, along with Brent Seabrook for a dominant one-two defensive punch. Add in forwards Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and drafting the likes of Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, and they were set for success. Let’s also not forget about the development of goaltender Corey Crawford. He hasn’t been the best goaltender on the planet, but he’s the perfect goaltender for this squad.
The Blackhawks built a team that wouldn’t only be good for two/three years, but a team that has been dominant for over seven years now. Teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabers have been feverishly trying to emulate what the Hawks have become, which starts through drafting and developing prospects. However, the Hawks have done a great job at not just handing out jobs and contracts, but making players earn it first by putting them in positions to succeed.
It’s Too Easy for Them
When we look at Chicago , there is something in the back of everyone’s minds thinking, “There’s no way this team can lose”. Even when the Ducks took a 3-2 series lead, everyone was thinking about the two goals Jonathan Toews scored to get it to overtime in the first place. There’s just something about this group of people that make them so much better than everyone else. Experience is definitely a reason, considering the amount of holes they have dug themselves out of. It’s impossible to clearly argue that your team is better than the Blackhawks. You know it, the team knows it and the Blackhawks definitely know it.
That’s what makes this team so deadly. The Blackhawks know they are the class of the NHL, but they have great leadership to help keep them levelheaded. Toews, Keith and Sharp may wear the letters, but this is a team-wide effort. It’s hard enough getting to the top of the totem pole, but its even tougher staying there because everyone below is gunning towards taking your place. Even still, the Hawks have a swagger about them that start from Patrick Kane, and moves down the latter all the way to their goal-song Chelsea Dagger, which put nightmares in opposing players heads.
— NHL (@NHL) May 31, 2015
It’s too easy for them, or simply, it’s easier for them than it is for other teams. They have had a couple missteps along the way with Scott Darling having to replace Crawford at the start of the playoffs, but when Keith scored the double-overtime winner in-game two Vs. Nashville, it seemed inevitable that they would run away with the series. They then took Minnesota back to school in the second round, and are now advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals with last night’s victory over the Ducks.
Are They a Dynasty?
In my opinion, yes they are.
This is a team that has gone to, at least, the Western Conference Finals in five of the last seven years. They have now gone the Stanley Cup Finals in three of the last six years, and have the potential of winning three Stanley Cups in three tries. They have some of the best players of this generation, and one of the winningest coaches in NHL history in Joel Quenneville.
Now, everyone has a different opinion and I am in no way shape or form a Blackhawks fan, but it’s impossible not to look over and marvel at what this team has accomplished since 2009. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to be a very tough test for the Blackhawks. They are the only team in NHL history to go into Madison Square Garden for a game seven, and not only win, but shut them out for the second road game in a row. They are deep at every position, and will challenge the Hawks at both ends of the ice.
I picked Tampa to win the Stanley Cup since the start of the playoffs, and I’m not backing down from that call. However, in the back of everyone’s minds are how good the Blackhawks are, and mine is no different.