The recent Jonathan Toews interview by Mark Lazerus from the Athletic has been excellent water cooler talk this week no matter what your opinion is of the Blackhawks captain, general manager Kyle Davidson, or the franchise rebuild.
Rather than dissect and debate every point of the interview, there's one quote in particular that stood out and was a reprise of something newly minted head coach Luke Richardson addressed during his introductory press conference.
Paraphrased from a quote by Toews:
"Luke's message is we're going to work hard, we're going to be prepared, we're going to play as a team, and we're going to go out there and try to win every single game. I'm really excited to have a chance to play for Luke."
It's no secret that Davidson wants to tear down the roster and build it back up again according to his own blueprint and with his own personnel -- players, coaches, scouts, and executives alike. A rebuild has been much needed.
As opposed to his predecessor Stan Bowman who couldn't stick to a lane and instead wanted to retool on the fly, Davidson has shown unwavering and unapologetic resolve and commitment to rebuilding the Hawks by his own design.
While maintaining diplomacy with his veteran players like Toews, Patrick Kane, and Seth Jones, Davidson isn't shy to rip off the band-aid and be a realist with what needs to be done then making bold decisions to enact his action plan.
One of Davidson's own hires was Richardson. Any new bench boss would know coming in what they’re getting into. It was also known that Richardson would remain as a Canadiens assistant coach if he didn't get the Hawks job.
According to the quote above, Richardson isn't going to coach the team or expect his players to tank. They will rally around each other in order to collectively compete hard and fight together to try winning each and every game.
And as Toews mentioned, that's what he and nearly all pro athletes and coaches hold themselves to: living in, preparing for, and playing in the moment rather than thinking about long-term plans for the entire franchise.
Tug of War
Could this turn into a proverbial tug of war between Davidson on one side and the players and coaches on the other? Even though the latter would by no means purposely sabotage the former, the messaging by both sides are at odds.
What if Richardson is a miracle worker and propels the Hawks to win games in a manner that isn't just an isolated Cinderella season but sustainably into a resurgence that significantly reduces the rebuild timeline?
Would it be problematic for Davidson specifically and the organization as a whole if the Hawks earned a playoff berth as early as the 2022-23 season? Would this be a good thing or a bad thing for the Hawks? Would it be both?
And would this jive with Davidson's rebuilding plan? Is he able to recalibrate his expectations? Or would he go from scorching the earth to blowing up the entire planet if the team's productivity runs counter to his mission?
What would blowing everything up mean if it seems like Davidson is already doing that this summer? If others aren't following the script he has written, do the kid gloves come off and he starts forcing the issue with transactions?
Forcing the Issue
Remember before the Alex DeBrincat trade transpired, Davidson said he wouldn't force any trades yet many have argued that he in fact did force that deal as he was hell bent on acquiring a 1st round pick in the 2022 draft.
One argument is that Davidson didn’t have to make that trade. Sure he got the 7th overall pick and DeBrincat's unwillingness to ink an extension with the Senators played a factor but the 2022 2nd and 2024 3rd felt like consolation prizes.
Following this line of reasoning, if Davidson isn't as strategic as he says he is by forcing trades when he's desperate, what's to say he won't do that in the future -- distant or near -- with other assets like Toews, Kane, and Jones.
Davidson expects his players to be open and flexible so one would hope the same holds true for him. In the event Toews and Kane are right in claiming that a rebuild doesn't have to take a long time, would Davidson be able to adjust?
In all actuality, the chances of the Hawks performing consistently at a high level to even be in the chase to qualify for the postseason is slim to none. But stranger things have happened so nothing is out of the question.
Second Chance at Revival
As Lazerus posited at the end of his article, if there's anyone who would know firsthand how having a pair of top 3 picks in successive draft years can bring a franchise back from the dead, it would be Toews and Kane.
No Blackhawks fan needs to be reminded that the 2006 3rd overall pick and 2007 1st overall pick rejuvenated the franchise and led the charge to three Stanley Cup championships after 49 years since the last one in 1961.
If Toews and Kane stay lifelong Blackhawks and can be key cogs in a new era of league dominance -- albeit in different roles than the first iteration -- then wouldn't it be something if they revived the franchise a second time?
Now that would be quite the way to put an exclamation mark on their storied careers, place an extra stamp on their passport to the Hall of Fame, and cement their legacies even more as two of the best Chicago athletes of all time.
Yet another IceHogs signing to fill out the 2022-23 roster. The undrafted Morgan Adams-Moisan (6'2" 216 lbs) is a power forward who racks up the PIMs. He was teammates with D prospect Nicolas Beaudin at Drummondville of the QMJHL in 2017-18.
See you on the boards!
Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, NBC Sports Chicago, The Athletic Chicago