Jan 20, 2022

Is it time for the Blackhawks to do the once unthinkable?

Is it time for the Blackhawks to do the once unthinkable?
(USA Today Sports)

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Wednesday's scores
Bulls 117, Cavs 104
Xavier 68, DePaul 67

Today's schedule
No games

All good things must come to an end ... but when?

(USA Today Sports)

There was a time when I believed Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would scratch out one more Stanley Cup for the road.

Aided by a young and rebuilt core, the two veterans would find a way to win four series en route to their fourth title, a fitting coda to their time in Chicago.

Needless to say, that dream is dead.

It has been for a while now. The Hawks haven't won a proper playoff series since they beat the Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. They haven't earned a proper playoff spot since getting their doors blown off in a sweep by Nashville in 2017. According to Money Puck, their chances of making this year's playoffs currently rate at 2.6 percent.

That's why I think it's in the best interests of all three parties to identify the destinations where both franchise legends can try and win at least one more Cup.

Because it sure as hell isn't happening here.

It's easier said than done. Both players own identical contracts that pay them $10.5 million per year and run through the end of the 2022-23 season. Both men would have to give their approval to lift their no-trade clauses.

One would assume both stars are tired of the losing and never seeing another core materialize over the last seven years.

But finding a contender to take a salary that large wouldn't be an easy task. Particularly for Toews, who just simply isn't a $10.5 million player any more.

Complicating matters is that the Hawks still haven't hired a replacement for Stan Bowman. Would interim GM Kyle Davidson even have the clearance to make such a big move?

Davidson will definitely be hearing about it in the weeks to come. The NHL's trading deadline this season isn't until March 21. While goalie Marc Andre-Fleury remains the team's most marketable deadline commodity, Davidson and Danny Wirtz should think long and hard about whether it's time for the team to fully move on from the championship era.

But would they really go through with it?

The Athletic's Mark Lazerus wrote about the possibility on Wednesday with two sources not exactly slamming the door on the idea:

“If one of them came to us and said he wanted out, we’d certainly have to respect that and look into the possibility,” one source said.
“I don’t think anybody wants it to come to that,” another source said. “And I don’t think it will. At least, I hope not.”

There was obviously a time when the thought of Toews and Kane retiring in anything but a Blackhawks sweater was unthinkable. It seemed like an empty net tap-in that #19 and #88 would  join the one-team Hall of Famer list that includes the great Stan Mikita.

But that was when we figured the Hawks would remain competitive for the length of their careers. They probably wouldn't stay on a three Cups in six seasons pace, but surely they'd stay competitive and have at least a puncher's chance each spring.

That hasn't come to pass and it seems unlikely it ever will while both Toews and Kane are on this side of age 40.

Kane and Toews still sell tickets and sweaters, which isn't nothing on this team. Only Alex DeBrincat and a 37-year-old goalie with an expiring contract seem to hold any sort of Q rating in town.

But are tickets sold today worth further postponing the big rebuilding job the Hawks have never been able to fully commit to?

And do Hawks fans really want to see two of their favorite players waste their remaining springs packing up their lockers at the end of April?

I'm at the point where I'm eager to watch both players in the playoffs again. Even if I know it's going to take place in unfamiliar colors.

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Some of the more noteworthy developments on Wednesday ...

  • Jim Harbaugh would take the Raiders job if offered, Michigan sources told The Athletic's Bruce Feldman. Hub Arkush reports the Bears had a short phone call with Harbaugh.
  • Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will reportedly interview with the Bears for a second time.
  • Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds withdrew his name from consideration for the Bears GM job.
  • The team announced it had completed an interview with 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon.
  • Leslie Frazier is the "name that’s consistently come up with the Chicago Bears," The MMQB's Albert Breer reports. Take that for what it's worth, but Frazier still hasn't been interviewed and is scheduled for Friday.

News and results

Bulls:  Caruso returns, team snaps skid

What a relief. Alex Caruso returned after a 13-game absence and the Bulls forced 15 turnovers for 24 points in a 117-104 win over Cleveland at the United Center. The Bulls are 28-15 and their season-high four-game losing streak is over.

  • DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 30 points while Nikola Vucevic had 24 and Ayo Dosunmu scored 18. Old friend Lauri Markkanen led Cleveland with 30 points of his own.
  • Next: The Bulls head out on a three-city road trip to Milwaukee (Friday), Orlando (Sunday) and Oklahoma City (Monday).  The team announced that  Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball will miss the trip as they continue to recover from injury.

Hawks: Seven games rescheduled

Six were previous postponements, only one future game is switching dates.


1. Gene Chamberlain asks if it's time for the Bears to fully commit to a youth movement. Sports Illustrated

2. Brennen Davis and Christian Hernandez landed on Baseball America's updated top 100 prospects list. Bleacher Nation

3. Ayo Dosunmu has broken into the top 10 of Mike Schmitz's rookie power rankings ESPN+

4. Patrick McCraney on six things we learned from new Fire coach Ezra Hendrickson. Hot Time in Old Town

5. Who will be Les Grobstein's overnight successor? Jon Greenberg lays odds with help from fellow friend Sam Panayatovich. The Athletic

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