Players Most Likely to be Traded Before the Trade Deadline

Keith Yandle, New York Rangers – Just one year after being traded to the big apple, Yandle may be on the move again. The offensive defenseman has been in Coach Alain Vigneault’s doghouse for much of the season and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Since it is unlikely he will re-sign with New York, the team may look to trade him and get something in return. A recent concussion to fellow defenseman and team captain Ryan McDonagh may cause the team to hesitate if the injury will keep him out for an extended period.

Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks – Another veteran defenseman on the market is Hamhuis, who recently returned after missing almost 2 months of action with a serious facial injury. The Canucks are trying to make a playoff push, but it seems clear to most that it is time for the team to rebuild. Hamhuis, a reliable top four defenseman, should fetch a nice price from a team looking for blue line help.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton has been able to stockpile a plethora of  young, talented forwards due to having the top overall draft pick in four out of the last six years. Even with that talent though, they find themselves near the bottom of the standings once again. 2011’s number one pick has been very productive at the professional level, but may be looking for a new home if the team tries to help their struggling defense. Another team could be willing to part with a top young defenseman to get him.

Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes – Staal is one of the biggest names that could potentially move in the coming weeks. He has been a potent scorer for much of his career, averaging .86 points per game, but he has been trending down this season at age 31. Carolina’s captain will be a free agent this summer and the team will likely go in a different direction to rebuild the squad. Staal does have a no-trade clause though, so it would have to be a destination that makes sense for him as well before being traded.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – This one may be more of a fantasy hockey GM dream, but there is a possibility that the captain of the reigning Eastern conference champions could be available. The 26 year old offensive juggernaut will be a free agent this summer, and the team has not been able to work out a long term extension. If no deal is in place by the trade deadline, the Lightning will have to consider moving Stamkos to avoid losing him for nothing. Odds are the team will find a way to keep him, but the immense potential trade return could be tempting.

Martin Brodeur

Tuesday night at the Prudential Center in New Jersey featured a raucous crowd who at one point stood and cheered for nearly two minutes without stopping. It wasn’t for their Devils though, or at least not all of them. The crowd was giving a standing ovation for hometown hero, goalie Martin Brodeur. After a stunning 24-year career, 21 of which were with the Devils, Brodeur has retired and New Jersey retired his number, 30, along with him.

Widely regarding as one of the greatest netkeepers to ever take the ice, Brodeur’s list of accomplishments reads like a set of wishes for any star-eyed middle school kid with a pair of skates and a stick. Three Stanley Cups, five Eastern Conference titles, 17 post-season campaigns, two Olympic Gold Medals, and lives as the only NHL goalie with eight 40-win seasons. Four-time Vezina Trophy winner, five-time Jennings Trophy winner, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and a 10-time NHL all-star, Brodeur almost singlehandedly changed the Devils’ from a “Mickey Mouse organization”, as Gretzky once called them, to Stanley Cup Champions.

It was fitting, therefore, that his number be retired in appreciation for his impact, not only on New Jersey, but the game itself. Brodeur’s impact went beyond his league records for wins, shutouts, playoff shutouts, and games played. Many speculate that in 2005 the new rule preventing goaltenders from playing the puck behind the goal line, save for a small space behind the net, was implemented specifically because of Brodeur. His abilities to handle the puck were so famous the rule was even nicknamed “The Brodeur Rule”.

Tuesday night’s crowd wanted to make sure their favorite tender knew how they felt and the standing ovation was so loud and long that Brodeur was prevented from giving his speech. Eventually the throng allowed him to speak and Brodeur expressed gratitude towards teammates, coaches, and, of course, the fans saying, “This is as good as it gets.” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman complimented Brodeur by calling him “the greatest goaltender in the history of this franchise, if not the history of this sport.”

Standing with his family in the crease Brodeur watched as his number and years with the team were raised high into the air. With a final wave of his goal tending stick Brodeur left the arena.

The 43-year old goes back to work as the Assistant General Manager for the St. Louis Blues but surely his heart will always be right there where it belongs, with the New Jersey Devils.

Dion Phaneuf: Getting Back to What He Does Best

In Calgary, Canada NHL hockey is now a major part of Calgarians lives. It was not always so and Dion Phaneuf was a big reason for that transition.

Calgarians can remember the days of rebuilding their team in the 1990’s and 2000’s in which the players were ostensibly referred to as the “Young Guns”. While that sentiment was good for the newspapers, the seats at the Saddledome remained mostly empty.  There was future-Hall-of-Famer Jarome Iginla and then there was the rest of the team. Slowly the building blocks of a great team started to come together and one of those blocks was a young Red Deer Rebel’s defenseman named Dion Phaneuf.

Dion Phaneuf was exactly what the city of Calgary needed to re-energized its love for hockey. He had a hard hitting style (and I mean HARD HITTING) that would shake the plexiglass in the Saddledome for years to come. He had a career high 60 points in the 2007-2008 season. He finished his rookie season by being named a Calder Trophy finalist behind two fairly mediocre and non-talented players named Sidney Crosby and eventual winner Alex Ovechkin.

He was beloved in Calgary for his scoring, his defence and putting opponents into the glass, but not so much for his off-ice attitude.

It was rumoured that his demeanour in the locker room left something to be desired from his teammates, yet his prolific scoring and bone crunching hits made him a fan favourite. His off-ice demeanour got him traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was arguably at the peak of his career in Calgary and now the same reasons have been got him traded to the Ottawa Senators. That, and the fact that his huge salary cap hit is now off the books it looks like the Maple Leafs will now use that gap to try to get Steven Stamkos.

Dion Phaneuf is a great defenseman who has an amazing workout regimen and can be a leader in the locker room but he should not have been made the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs; arguably the toughest job in the NHL. The media and the pressure of being the face of the most watched and most scrutinized hockey market in the world makes it infinitely harder to be the player you need him to be. When he was in Calgary and not in the white-hot Toronto spotlight, he played the best hockey of his career. He was fun to watch. He body-checked everyone. He blasted shots on the power play.  Players couldn’t get around him. Now that he doesn’t have the enormous burden of being Toronto’s captain, he should revert back to the great player he is, the player that should push the Ottawa Senators into the playoffs and form one of the best defences in the league alongside Erik Karlsson.

The best thing about this trade is that Dion Phaneuf has the pressure of the Toronto hockey world off his shoulders. To all the other players in the NHL, watch out. It should be fun to watch, just like in the good old days in Calgary.

NHL All-Star weekend stirred mild controversies

As far as professional all-star games go, the NHL affair is typically non-eventful since it isn’t really competitive when compared to the NBA and Major League Baseball. The main reason for this is because the physical aspect of the sport is absent as nobody wants to suffer an injury. NHL stars usually engage in a game of pond hockey and rack up the score on the poor goaltenders. However, the recent 2015/16 all-star encounter in Nashville proved to be somewhat different as it created a controversy or two.

For starters, the NHL drastically changed the game’s format from the regular five-on-five contest to a three-on-three tournament. Each of the league’s four divisions was represented by an 11-man team with each squad playing a 20-minute game. The two winners then met in the final with the victors being awarded a prize of a million dollars. In case you missed it, The Pacific Division edged the Atlantic 1-0 in the final. The million dollars was controversial in itself since many fans felt it should have been donated to a charity of the winning team’s choice.  

The new format had many purists up in arms since they believe three-on-three hockey is nothing but a novelty or farce and even some of the players appeared to agree with them. The NHL needed to do something to spice up the all-star event though as fans were getting a little bored with the high-scoring shinny games of the past such as last year’s 17-12 result. And what better way to do liven things up than changing to a three-on-three format, which is the same thing the league has done for overtime games this season.

Another ongoing controversy leading up to the game was the inclusion of enforcer John Scott. The NHL allowed fans to vote in the captain of each team and to the league’s dismay, Scott was elected as the skipper of the Pacific Division while he was still a member of the Arizona Coyotes. Now fans either took advantage of this situation to show the NHL it was a flawed system or they figured they’d just vote for Scott as a joke. Either way, he was nominated to the squad and the league was left with egg on its face.

The NHL tried to persuade Scott from playing the game and suggested he show up for the weekend with his family, but simply not dress for the tournament. Scott’s own team even tried to make things difficult for the six-foot-eight forward by placing him on Waivers on December 18th. Arizona felt one of its young stars such as Max Domi or Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be a better representative in Nashville.  Scott was then traded to the Montreal Canadiens on January 15th and sent directly down to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.  

This was another move which the NHL hoped would change Scott’s mind about attending the all-star contest, but it also failed. In the end, there was a fairytale ending for Scott as the career five-goal scorer netted a pair of goals and added an assist in the all-star tournament to help lead his team to victory. The fans also got their way again as they voted the 33-year-old the most valuable player and Scott took home a brand new Honda SUV as his reward.

But perhaps the most controversial event during the all-star weekend took place a day earlier during the skills competition. Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings set a new speed record after skating a lap around the rink in 13.172 seconds to break the previous mark of 13.386 seconds set by a 36-year-old Mike Gartner back in 1996. However, many fans believe the 19-year-old rookie Larkin received a decided advantage since he a started his lap at the blue line and was as at full speed when the stop watch began when he reached centre ice. Gartner’s lap started from a standing-still position at centre ice.

In addition,  it’s debatable whether or not the nets were moved forward further this year during the skating event, which made for a slightly shorter lap. Fans can judge for themselves by watching footage of both Gartner and Larkin as the skate their respective laps.  

The NHL Playoffs’ New Anthem May Be “No Canada

In 1969 a man named Gary Starkweather invented the laser printer. 1969 was the year the first Porsche 914s were ever produced. A band known as The Beatles released a little album called “Yellow Submarine” that same year as well. 1969 was also the last time the NHL playoffs happened without a Canadian team, something that is beginning to look more and more likely as the 2015-16 season unfolds.

Going into the All-Star break not one of the NHL’s seven Canadian teams held a play-off berth. In the Eastern Conference the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators were each at 52 points, putting them 3 away from playoff contention. The Toronto Maple Leafs lie 12 back with 43 points and a much harder task ahead of them if they plan to make a playoff spot.

In the Western Conference Winnipeg holds last place in the Central while Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton sit at the bottom three positions. The Canucks hold the top position for any Canadian team, sitting only five points out of contention but if the playoffs happened today it would be the first time in 36 years we’d have an All-American line-up.

Couple those sobering statistics with the fact that Canada hasn’t been home to the Stanley Cup for 21 years and there’s obviously cause for concern for hockey fans in the Great White North.

Blame is placed in several places. The falling Canadian dollar has put a tremendous amount of economic pressure on the league, the franchises, and the players. TV rights deals that were made when the “loonie” was near or on par with US dollar are now worth significantly less, which reduces the overall HRR or Hockey Related Revenues. If the HRR drops the players feel it in their salaries. All of which combines to mean tougher choices moving forward and tightening the belt becomes the norm. Not a great place to be with playoff hopes in mind.

Some attribute this year’s playoff drought to bad timing. With teams like the Oilers and the Maple Leafs undergoing significant changes in their organizations it’s no surprise they’ll need a few seasons to rebuild. Vancouver is trying to move quickly under second year GM, Jim Benning, and the Flames are in the midst of rebuilding their roster as well. It’s just a bad luck season for the Canadians right? Still others place the blame squarely on management making poor financial decisions and even poorer roster choices.

Whatever the reason the fact remains that this season represents a low point for Canada’s national pastime. All is not lost, however. There are still roughly 30 games left to be played and as fans everywhere know, a lot can happen in 30 games. Heck, maybe by the end of the season I’ll be driving a new Porsche 914 listening to Yellow Submarine.

The Case for Another Coronation

As we break into the second half of the season, NHL fans are preparing for the crescendo of their year – the race for the playoffs and a run to the Stanley Cup.

For the last four seasons the ping-pong match between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks has made for good theater, if not great hockey. But will one of these teams once again be holding the Cup this June? While the rest of the league tries to catch up, it looks like it will be deja vu all over again.   The smart money is on the team that dominates even numbers like a Vegas card counter... the Kings.

Right now, LA is running Darryl Sutter's system to perfection. The Kings fly under the radar because they lack the scoring, style, and finesse you see in Chicago, Dallas, or Washington. But make no mistake, this is a team nobody wants to see in the playoffs.

To understand why the Kings have hit such a groove, you have to look back to the off-season.
The team had hit its lowest point in the Sutter era. LA failed to make the 2015 playoffs, their second best defenseman Slava Voynov was deported after a domestic violence incident, and there were whispers that the coach had lost the locker room. So what did GM Dean Lombardi do? He doubled down on his coach.

After the Blackhawks third Cup in five years, every pundit with a microphone was screaming one word – speed. To match Chicago, you have to get faster. Lombardi and Sutter extended their collective middle fingers and went the opposite direction. The trade for Milan Lucic made the Kings slower, meaner, gritter, and tougher. The perfect foil for Sutter's game. Lucic is on pace for about 20 goals and 50 points for the season. If you ask Sutter, he's probably more concerned his winger hits the 100 penalty minute mark. Sutter loves how Lucic plays at the edge, an ingredient missing from last year's squad.

Meantime, the blue line begins, middles, and ends with Drew Doughty. He's favored to capture his first Norris Trophy as the game's best defenseman, an honor that may be long over due. He's never going to put up the blistering numbers of an Erik Karlsson or a P.K. Subban, that’s not part of the Kings’ system. He's simply rounded into the best end-to-end blue-liner in the game, and the league knows it.

While the team is performing well, it's well documented L.A.'s ace-in-the hole come playoff time is netminder Jonathan Quick. He's proven over the last half-decade to be the best crunch time goalie in the game. He's having another stellar campaign, currently notching 27 wins in 43 games with a 2.24 GAA. The only question for Quick and for the Kings is how the team manages his minutes down the stretch. Last season, the 2012 Conn Smythe winner was 2nd in the NHL in total ice time at a whopping 4,184 minutes played. One of the team’s goals in the second half of the season will be keeping Quick fresh, so expect to see a lot of Jhonas Enroth in the weeks to come.

With two cups in the last five years, the Kings have the experience and the system to win it all again. Wake me up some time in late May when they drop the puck for Game 1 against Chicago in the Western Conference finals. It's going to be another titanic struggle. Winner gets the Cup. Sorry everybody in the East... you're playing for second again.

3 on 3 Overtime: Thoughts, Winners and Losers

The NHL instituted the coaches challenge and the new 3 on 3 overtime format this year.  By most accounts, it seems that the latter was a very popular decision, even going as far as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saying that he expects the new format to return next year. The 3 on 3 is popular with most coaches and players. I say most accounts because some goalies might not be too excited to give up more shots and goals, even though it doesn’t count against their statistics.

While there is something to be said for the fun and flair of the shootout, the overtime has now become just as entertaining. Obviously, the shootout is just a breakaway pitting player against goaltender, but the great thing about the 3 on 3 is that there are still lots of breakaways along with everything else - including penalties, giveaways, passing and rebounds.  That being said more games are being decided in overtime this year than in the shootout. Last year, using the 4 on 4 format, after 740 games there were 186 games that went into overtime and only 84 ended there, that’s 45.2% of games. This year, in the new 3 on 3 format, 171 games have gone to overtime so far and 109, or 63.7%, were decided before the shootout.

As previously mentioned, with more games being decided in overtime so far this year, there will be some teams that will embrace the 3 on 3 format more than others. The Chicago Blackhawks are at the top of the list, and understandably so because they are one of the top teams in the league. However, they also have extremely talented open ice players which is key in the new overtime. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all play very fast and very effectively in the open ice. This is key (as well as a good goaltender obviously) for success in overtime.  Other teams that are winning in overtime use these same principles. Teams like the Calgary Flames who have 8 overtime wins are using Sean Monahan and one-man-overtime-wrecking-crew Johnny Gaudreau in similar capacities on the open ice.

On the other end of the spectrum we have teams like Columbus, Toronto and Anaheim. Anaheim is a talented team that is in a scoring drought right now and they do have talented players such as Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler but they aren’t as dynamic. With bigger, slower players they cannot use the open ice in the way that other teams capitalize on. The same goes for Columbus and Toronto, however these two teams are at the bottom of the NHL standings as well.

The NHL’s new 3 on 3 overtime experiment seems to be passing with flying colors. The players get to stretch their legs and their passes to create lots of scoring chances.  If the format stays this way, and it looks like it will, then some teams may have to re-tool their roster to allow for faster, more offense-driven, skilled players.  For the fans, they get exciting end to end rushes, big saves and if no one scores, they still get the great entertainment of a shootout. Most players and coaches love the 3 on 3 overtime format, but let’s face it, the fans love it and that’s what it’s all about.

Dennis Wideman and the $500,000 Cross-check.

In what will surely go down in history as the world’s most expensive cross-check, Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman was slapped with a 20-game suspension for hospitalizing a linesman during the team’s final game before the All-Star break. The long stretch on the bench means the defenseman will forfeit $564,516.13 worth of his salary, a hefty sum for the 11-year veteran in his fourth season with the Flames.

The hit on linesman Don Henderson occurred during the second period of a game against the Nashville Predators as Wideman was skating back to the bench after taking a massive check from Predators’ right-winger, Mikka Salomaki. As Wideman approached the bench he hit Henderson square in the back sending him to the ice and against the boards. Henderson appeared injured but no penalty was called and both player and linesman finished out the game. Afterward Henderson was taken to the emergency room complaining of neck pain and nausea where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

There is some debate as to whether the contact was intentional or not. Wideman claims he was “woozy” and disoriented from Salomaki’s vicious knock and couldn’t avoid the contact. Others believe the cross-check was in retaliation for Salomaki’s hit not being called for a penalty. With the league rules dictating either a 10 or 20 game suspension depending on whether there was “intent to injure” it is clear the NHL and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, are treating the impact as deliberate.
Wideman has expressed regret about the situation insisting that the collision was unintentional and unavoidable. At the first stoppage after the incident he skated over to the officials grouped along the boards to apologize directly but that will have little effect on either the league or the NHL Officials Organization who are charged with protecting their personnel first and foremost.

Wideman can appeal the sentence directly to Bettman and perhaps even exercise his right to a neutral arbitrator if the appeal fails. It is unclear what Wideman’s intentions are at this point but it is likely the Flames will appeal any sentence over six games in an attempt to keep their Alternate Captain off the ice for as little as possible.

Wideman won’t don skates while his case is under appeal causing the Flames to recall defenseman Jakub Nakladal from their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, but the loss of a player like Wideman will likely be a blow to a team struggling to stay in 6th place in the Pacific division.

“Wides is a big part of our team,” said Flames Captain Mike Giordano. “He’s a great player on the ice but off the ice, too, he’s a guy who had a voice in this room. Hopefully, it all works out.”

Are the Montreal Canadiens the Stanley Cup Favourites?

The Montreal Canadiens have been the hottest team so far in the NHL with 25 points in their first 15 games and currently lead the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers by 7 points in the Eastern Conference (although both of those teams have 3 games in hand).

This might not be a big surprise for most because the Canadiens did finish amongst the top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference for the past three seasons and were once again expected to be a top team this season. If we look a little deeper into the statistics, this start to the season is very promising though.

Over the past three seasons, the Canadiens have average 2.76 goals per game and allowed 2.45 goals per game, this year they’re averaging 3.67 and have allowed 1.80.

Despite being the 6th best regular season team over the past 3 seasons, they averaged only 28.9 shots per game while allowing 29.7 per game but so far this year they’re outshooting their opponent by 1.4 shots per game.

It’s no secret that the leader of this team is Carey Price and that if this team goes deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it will likely be because of Carey Price. However, the 2015-16 edition of the Montreal Canadiens has been able to score more goals than they have in quite awhile. They currently have 10 players with more than 9 points and 4 players on pace to score over 30 goals: Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise. Of those, Pacioretty is probably the only one who will end up with 30 goals but if he gets some help and 5 or 6 other players can score over 20 goals, it will be a much more dangerous team.

It’s a nice start but it’s hard to judge a team based on its first 15 games. If we look at the past 5 Stanley Cup Champions after 15 games, they weren’t all particularly good:

Goal Differential
Chicago Blackhawks
Los Angeles Kings
Chicago Blackhawks
Los Angeles Kings
Boston Bruins

The Montreal Canadiens have looked like the best team in the NHL so far and there are very promising signs but its 15 games. The Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators have all looked great as well and there are a handful of teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings that you can never count out.

Chicago Blackhawks Deserve ‘Dynasty’ Tag

Their achievement of three Stanley Cup titles may not match up to the achievements of the Edmonton Oilers or New York Islanders in the 1980s, or the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, or even the 1960s Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry to remind you Leafs fans). However, the Chicago Blackhawks deserve to be considered among all of the NHL’s greatest historic dynasties as the first true dynasty of the salary cap era.

It’ll always be difficult to compare teams from different eras; it’s difficult enough to compare the 2010, 2013 and 2015 champion Blackhawks. However, winning three championships in six years (they might not be done yet) in an era where parity has broadly been successfully enforced.

It has been a period, where superstar players Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have claimed just one Stanley Cup between them. The New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers have just not quite been able to get over the edge in spite of spending big money and making big trades. Meanwhile, teams like the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks have come close to doubling their Cup titles since the 2004-05 lockout. Even teams that were perennially consistent in the 90s and early 2000s like the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils just haven’t been able to maintain that success, they appeared in a combined three Cup finals in the salary cap era, but have just one title to show for it between them.

It’s harder to enjoy consistent success. Teams like Chicago cannot exploit their market advantage and sign up their core for the long-term like they might have done once.

Indeed, the turnover in Chicago’s roster between their first championship and their third is extraordinary. There are just eight players who played on both the 2010 winning team and the 2015 winning team. Of those, Kris Versteeg wasn’t on the roster in 2013.

The identities of the other seven players provide a pretty good first indication for the source of Chicago’s success. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjmarlsson, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. That’s a terrific foundation for any forward group and blue-line.

The second key has been the ability of first Dave Tallon and then Stan Bowman to consistently re-tool this roster around those core players. Most Stanley Cup winning teams are built at least in part around a group of young players on entry-level contracts that provide ‘value for money’ on the cap restricted roster.

Somehow, Chicago has managed to keep changing the roster. The 2014-15 version of the Blackhawks epitomizes the combination of effective drafting and savvy free agent moves that have helped this team enjoy such consistent success.

Veterans Brad Richards and Kimmo Timonen played critical roles, while Antoine Vermette was an expensive, but vital trade deadline acquisition. However, second round pick Brandon Saad and late first round selection Teuvo Teravainen played critical roles in the long postseason run. Both were selected in drafts after Chicago’s initial 2010 championship success.

The art of quality drafting is difficult to quantify. There’s clearly an element of fortune involved and an effective professional set-up is also critical to developing young talent. Chicago’s greatest success has been in identifying their ‘type’ of players. Very few teams have been as good at picking up young, skilled players as Chicago. Even fourth liners Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger are pretty good players with the puck on their sticks.

Even after the 2011 and 2012 playoffs when Chicago lost in the first round on each occasion, there was still an organisational commitment to a philosophy of having a line-up built around speed and skill.

A big part of that consistency is rooted in Toews. The captain gets more credit than any other player for Chicago’s success and it’s deserved. His will, determination and leadership make him the vital driving force for this franchise.

Another part of the equation who perhaps doesn’t get the credit that he deserves is head coach Joel Quenneville. It is somehow assumed that anyone could lead Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook to three championships. The reality is very different. Quenneville has consistently adapted Chicago’s special teams and their set up at both ends of the ice to keep the Blackhawks relevant. You do not make three long postseason runs without elite coaching.

Chicago’s dynastic era could still be extended. Toews is just 27 and Keith is the oldest of the team’s core at just 31. One more championship during their prime years would surely elevate this team’s success to being in contention with some of the true great teams, like the 80s Islanders and Oilers.

Ahead of Bowman, Quenneville and this Blackhawks is another roster re-shape that will probably see Sharp depart among some other significant pieces. Still, it would be a dangerous game to sleep on the Blackhawks even in the 2015-16 season.