The Blackhawks wrapped up another season much sooner than they wouldve liked. Now they and their powers that be are looking at what needs to be done to make sure this doesnt happen again next year.
Were still in the assessment phase, said general manager Stan Bowman, who called the early exit a big disappointment.
We have meetings scheduled with each player, well talk to them how they could be better. As a team we could be better. Well review with coaches as well and see what aspects of that can we improve upon. Well look at personnel, talk to the hockey ops staff and see if there are young players ready to make that next step and push others out of the lineup. Well look at trades or the free agent market. Thats how itll play out.
But as of now it doesnt look like the Blackhawks will be looking for a second-line center. Bowman was happy with what Patrick Kane did there, and it sounds like the Blackhawks believe theyre solid enough up the middle that changesadditions dont have to be made there.
(Kane) in the middle is certainly better than any center thats available, Bowman said. Theres a lot of talk about the position, and Im not sure why theres so much. If you look back on the season, our teams best record was when he was in the middle. (Kane) carried our team last month of the season, put us on his back and got us into the playoffs.
What didnt work so well was the power play and goaltending. Corey Crawford struggled all season, and Bowman said it wasnt our strength this year. But its not fair to blame one player. We win and lose as a team. As far as Crawford and Ray Emery being the Blackhawks goaltenders moving forward, Bowman said, we dont rule anything in or out. We just finished playing hockey two days ago, so we cant make a definitive statement on anything.
As far as the power play, everybody seemed to have his theories. Its about coaching, its on the players. But the overwhelming synopsis from the players was that they were missing that net-front presence that made them so successful on it in past years. The absence of guys like Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky was mentioned several times, and the Blackhawks say they need that again.
The biggest thing with me and the power play, is there was not a net-front guy the whole year, Patrick Kane said. You have the perimeter with me, Johnny (Toews) and (Patrick Sharp), (Brent Seabrook) and Duncs (Keith) at the point, but there was no set net front guy this year. At the same time, I dont know if we tended to relax or take it for granted that we had time and space to make plays.
Jonathan Toews said his head felt fine when he returned to start the playoffs, but getting back to his usual play after the 22-game layoff was tricky. He said hell skip the world championships to concentrate on remaining healthy.
Sharp will not need wrist surgery and will play in the World Championships for Team Canada.
Andrew Brunette isnt sure about his future in the NHL, but he isnt planning on coming back to the Blackhawks.