There are a lot of question marks around the National Hockey League right now. Who will get the 2020 NHL Draft first overall pick? Will play resume and the Stanley Cup be awarded? How many players will contract COVID-19? And of course, we here in Chicago are interested in how this will affect the Chicago Blackhawks. Today Brooke LoFurno, Greg Boysen, and Gail Kauchak address some of these topics as we await further answers in the days and weeks to come.
On Friday, June 26, the NHL conducted the first portion of the 2020 Draft Lottery. As it turns out, the No. 1 overall pick is yet to be determined. One of the eight teams that is eliminated in the upcoming qualifying round will get that honor. Each team will have an equal 12.5 percent chance of getting the first overall pick.
Which means if the Blackhawks lose in the upcoming series to the Edmonton Oilers, they could potentially obtain the No. 1 pick. If they win, their draft position will be determined by where they finish in the rest of the playoffs.
Based on this new turn of events, would you rather see the Blackhawks win or lose in the qualifying round?
Blackhawks’ Qualifying Round Preference: Win or Lose?
Brooke LoFurno – Win
The Blackhawks weren’t going to make the playoffs before the season was put on hold, so I think it’s better for them to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Plus, it’s a crapshoot. It’s not a given that even if they do lose, they’ll get the No. 1 pick.
So I say just go for it and cross that No. 1 bridge if/when they get there!
Greg Boysen – Lose
The answer to this is pretty easy if you go with your head and not your heart. While it’s hard for a fan to cheer against their favorite team, getting the number one overall pick and Alexis Lafreniere is better for the big picture than an extra round in the playoffs.
This Blackhawks’ team has shown that it isn’t deep enough or good enough defensively to make a deep postseason run, no matter how great goaltender Corey Crawford plays. A chance at the No. 1 pick is more important to the overall health of this franchise than potentially getting smacked around by the St. Louis Blues for four or five games.
Gail Kauchak – Win
I’ve never been a fan of tanking. And besides, players don’t tank. They don’t care about the draft. They want to win. This team has a legitimate chance to win this series. The playoff environment will do wonders for the growth and development of the younger players. And it will rejuvenate the veteran players. And once you’re in, anything can happen!
Let’s say the Blackhawks do lose and have this 12.5 percent chance at the first pick. It’s only a 12.5 percent chance! One of seven other teams are just as likely get that pick. In my opinion the value of building a winning culture is far more important for this team than a remote chance of getting a high pick in the draft.
The team has set a solid foundation and built up some momentum as the season has gone along. The organization owes it to the players to let them see that through to fruition. I certainly hope the coaching staff and the higher ups don’t do anything stupid to jeopardize this second chance the players have been given.
The Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL are in the midst of Phase 2 in the Return to Play plan. Yet recently we learned Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and numerous players from the Tampa Bay Lightning tested positive for COVID-19. The logistics of getting hockey back are becoming more and more difficult.
That being said, do you support these playoffs? Or would you rather see the NHL forfeit this season and focus on the 2020-21 season instead?
NHL Playoffs or Forfeit Season?
Brooke – Playoffs
The NHL has been doing the best they can with regard to how to hand the return to play: small workout groups, mandatory masks, etc. I think it’s best to keep vigilant on monitoring those “hot spots” where the players tested positive.
Depending on if players’ cases rise or fall, that can help determine if it’s truly safe or not for them to play in due time. But overall, I support the return to play for the time being.
Greg – Forfeit
We are walking a very thin line right now. As much as I want to see hockey come back and experience everything the Stanley Cup playoffs bring to the table, I am seriously questioning if it’s worth it. It will be hard to keep everyone completely safe in their hub cities, and with cases on the rise again it’s a scary prospect.
I completely understand the arguments to finish out the season, and they are valid. But I also would have zero issues with erring on the side of caution when it comes to a pandemic that the United States, as a whole, can’t get on top of.
Gail – Forfeit
In the previous section I expressed my excitement for the Blackhawks’ second chance and building a winning culture in the qualifying series. And as a hockey fan I would love to watch playoff hockey and see the Stanley Cup awarded.
But as a member of society I truly have my doubts that this is the right thing to do. Players are going to get sick. As elite athletes, many of them won’t have any serious repercussions. But some of them might. Some of them have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable.
And how the heck is this bubble going to work anyway? There’s a huge network of people required to service the hub city. You can’t tell me they’re all going to be quarantined in the bubble for the entire playoffs. A maintenance worker, a chef, heck even a player or staff member is going to venture outside of the bubble. More people are going to get sick, and lives are at stake.
Is it really worth it?! Having these playoffs will also delay the start of next season and likely beyond. Maybe the best bet is to suck it up and hope for a regular start to the 2020-21 season. This will give buy time to discover better Covid treatments and hopefully develop a vaccine.
As I like to do with these roundtables, let’s end with something light and fun. Who was your favorite player to watch this past season, and why?
Blackhawks’ Favorite Player in 2019-20 Regular Season
Brooke – Connor Murphy
Murphy is someone that really impressed me this season. It’s been fun watching him grow into his own in Chicago. Especially this year seeing what he could do with so little, as there were a lot of defensive injuries.
Before the season paused, Murphy was having a career season in points, with 19. I can only imagine his game has nowhere to go but up.
Greg – Kirby Dach
This is a very interesting question. My favorite players to watch are still Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews. Even though they are not the same players from the Stanley Cup era, they are still warriors and their respective work ethics are nothing short of amazing.
With that being said, the player I enjoyed watching the most, mainly because I focused a lot on his progression, was Kirby Dach. He has shown flashes of being a special player as a teenager in the NHL, so the future is very bright for him.
Gail – Dominik Kubalik
It’s hard to go wrong with this 30-goal scoring rookie, which ranked second on the team and first among the leagues’s rookies. Kubalik found his stride playing on a line with Toews the second half of the season. Former goaltender Robin Lehner claimed Kubalik had the best shot on the team, and he was a master at positioning himself in front of the net for rebounds.
The Czech native looks like the real deal, and it’s been exciting to watch his confidence grow as he reaps the benefits of his hard work. Although we said this about Alex DeBrincat in his first two campaigns as well, and he slumped this season. So the challenge will be for Kubalik to consistently keep up his scoring touch.
It remains to be seen whether the NHL and the Blackhawks can overcome all the obstacles and make playoff hockey happen. And if they do, will the Blackhawks advance? Or will they get a shot at the first overall pick in the draft? Either way, hopefully we can watch our favorite players back on the ice soon.
As always, thanks for reading!
Gail Kauchak has covered the Chicago Blackhawks as a content writer since 2014. She previously wrote for Fansided’s Blackhawk Up, and has been part of The Hockey Writer’s team since 2017. It’s not always easy to balance life’s responsibility’s with one’s passion, but Gail’s doing her best to make it happen. Quote to live by, “Follow your dreams, and good things will happen.” Wait, maybe it’s “Good things happen when you shoot the puck!” You get the idea.
Follow Gail for her unique commentary about this storied franchise. And be sure to catch her and the rest of the Blackhawks’ crew on their weekly Blackhawks Banter show, as well as follow her on Twitter.