By: Luke Johns
It’s official: the Chicago Blackhawks are a dynasty. They have won three Stanley Cups in six years and are without question the team of the decade.
Throughout the playoffs they faced adversity and overcame it. In round one against Nashville, head coach Joel Quenneville made a goalie change that turned out to only be a speed bump in their run. They were down three games to two in the Western Conference Final and battled back to win the series capped off with a road win in Game 7. And then of course, down two games to one in this Stanley Cup Final, they tie the series in a hard-fought Game 4. One could argue the Blackhawks were outplayed in the first four games but managed to salvage a split. They then came back with two strong performances in Games 5 and 6. Just like that, they are the champions.
When we think of the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks, we think of them winning based on experience on the ice. The core of the team led by Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa have each won three Stanley Cups – all of whom are future Hall of Famers in my opinion. They brought the invaluable experience and intangibles that all championship teams have. Throughout the playoff run, almost every player on the roster had at least one big-time moment that made an enormous difference.
We will also think of the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks as a team with outstanding coaching. This is Quenneville’s third cup behind the bench with three different coaching staffs. You could see he wasn’t afraid to switch up the lines throughout the series and it’s apparent that the players respect him and like playing for him. Coach Q, as they call him in Chicago, has earned himself an eventual trip to the Hall of Fame.
Jonathan Toews has now established himself as the best player in the league. He now has three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, was the 2010 Conn Smythe winner, 2013 Selke winner (also nominated this year) and is the captain of the best team in the league. He is a winner and that’s what makes him the best. Those credentials trump any other NHL player’s credentials in today’s game.
That being said, here are some examples of how Chicago’s success was a team effort:
-Corey Crawford was locked in during Games 4-6. He only gave up two goals on 82 shots.
-Niklas Hjalmarsson led the team with 66 blocked shots this post-season.
-Antoine Vermette had three game winning goals this post-season.
-Duncan Keith’s total ice time this post-season was 685:18. He was a horse and the well-deserved winner of the Conn Smythe trophy.
-Brad Richards assisted both Game 6 goals.
It won’t be easy going forward, but the Blackhawks are certainly in a position to succeed in the future. Management will have a lot of decisions to make this summer with salaries increasing, but their track record of making the right decisions shouldn’t hinder their quest for sustained success. After winning in 2010, the Blackhawks parted ways with goaltender Antti Niemi. After winning in 2013, they parted ways with Dave Bolland- the player who scored the clinching goal. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Blackhawks roster has a slight shakeup.
But for now, all fans and management know are that the Chicago Blackhawks are 2015 Stanley Cup Champions.