As badly as the players would like to play (and as badly as the fans would like to see their team play), it may not necessarily be the end of the world for the Chicago Blackhawks to take a bit of a hiatus from the high-paced, action-packed 8 month period called the NHL season.
Sure, there are plenty of cons that will arise, should this lockout last the entire season.
Like the fact that the veteran Hawks on the roster, such as Patrick Sharp, Sheldon Brookbank, Steve Montador, Johnny Oduya, Jamal Mayers, Michal Rozsival and Marian Hossa (all at the ripe old age of 30 or older) could get rusty after a year of inactivity. With the short life span of hockey careers, being out of practice could take a considerable toll on the physicality and performance for players nearing the end of their prime.
For the younger sprites on the team who decide to continue playing hockey in Europe, there is the risk of injuries abroad, which could jeopardize the players’ NHL contracts should the lockout end prematurely.
But then there are the pros.
In the immediate wake of the lockout, the Blackhawks sent 26 of their players and prospects back down to the minors. Sure, a lot of these youngsters will be bummed at their missed chance at some ice time in the big leagues, but an extra few months developing and honing their skills can only help the Hawks when the NHL season does resume. Take Adam Clendening, for example. The 19-year old, who was drafted by Chicago 36th overall, will have the opportunity to fine-tune his abilities and truly become the puck-moving defenseman the Blackhawks are envisioning him to be.
The unexpected downtime could also benefit Corey Crawford. Last season, the goalie was good but not amazing. A few months of being out of the spotlight and pressure of the NHL would help the Crawford focus on his goaltending game and improve upon the 2.72 GAA he had in the previous year.
And last but certainly not least, a delayed or missed NHL season could do wonders for the recovery of the players who were injured during the last few years.
Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa suffered troubling concussions in 2012, and as we all saw with Sidney Crosby, time is everything when it comes to a proper and full recovery.
Patrick Kane, who underwent wrist surgery this summer, could also use a few extra months of strength and conditioning to get himself back into top shape and retain that sharp-shooting puck-burying reputation of his.
With these three in full health, the possibilities of success in the following season could be endless.
All points mentioned, there’s still no doubt that the NHL lockout will generate more negative reactions than positive, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to look at what good it could possibly bring.
Who knows, maybe Gary Bettman’s grinch-like decision could be credited for solidifying the core of the Chicago Blackhawks roster and turn them back into the Stanley Cup-winning champions they were in 2010.
About the Author
Written by Anna Santiago
26-year old sports writer from Calgary, Alberta. A hockey and basketball lover above all.