Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blame the System, not the Hawks, for Crushing Saad Loss

When the Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons just two short weeks ago, we all knew what was coming next. Both of the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup seasons were followed by a mass exodus in the offseason, as the Hawks looked to retool their team while keeping the core intact. In this horrific hard salary cap NHL era, winning one Cup is difficult, let alone winning three in six years. And unfortunately, getting to that level requires difficult business decisions involving players we love.

This year, all signs pointed to Patrick Sharp being the big piece moved. He's a beloved player, someone who helped kickstart this new Blackhawks cultural revolution when he was acquired 10 years ago. With his $5.9 million cap hit the next two seasons though, and father time knocking on the door, the obvious move would be to trade him to allow room for the Hawks to resign Brandon Saad, the 22 year old "man child" who has been a beast now for the past two seasons and part of a third. This was a sound, logical plan that adhered closely to the Blackhawk model of keeping crucial pieces of the young elite core together. And yet, that all came to a grinding, screeching halt today with the stunning trade of Brandon Saad.