It's the last week of school (praise Jesus), I still have a job after the cuts, and they're cutting my salary by $10,000 next year. Since I'm in a good mood with reservations, and I guess I need to start shilling my writing abilities for a part time job or 12, here's Tuesday's With Hildy: Bitter History Teacher edition.
I caught this in today's Post-Dispatch regarding the Blues and Blackhawks, and their respective levels of achievement. Why is one team in the conference finals, and the other is playing golf? For once, some analysis in a Q&A might actually be moderately correct. Is there a valid reason that we're at a different spot in our development, and will have the Blackhawks just developed too soon?Jeremy Rutherford, or as we like to refer to him, "that guy at the Post-Dispatch who understands hockey," boils it down to just a few things: better drafting, leadership for youth, canning coaches quickly, and amount of money spent. Let's look at the drafting first.
Rutherford points at the 'Hawks' drafting of Keith at 54th overall in 2002, while the Blues chose Shkotov at 48th. Ok, fine, we could have drafted Keith instead of the Blackhawks. Or we could have drafted Matt Stajan. Or Tomas Fleischmann. That was not a wise decision by our scouts in hindsight, but they haven't consistently drafted better than we have when we have been at comparable draft decisions. Erik Johnson was just as solid of a pick at number one as Jonathan Toews was at number three; they just play different positions. As averagejoe pointed out in the links this morning, we draft defensemen while the Hawks draft offensive shooters. That doesn't necessarily translate to us being a lesser team, just a team with a different philosophy. That, and we do have some potential solid scorers, but they're farther back in their development than any of the Hawks' stars.
Why is that? Well, as Kevin Wheeler rightfully points out, the Blackhawks sucked for about a decade straight; we've only sucked off and on (or been average) for four of the last five years. That's not the way to stock up on draft picks.
Firing Andy Murray a month sooner might've gotten us into the playoffs - they did drag their feet on that. JD has flat-out said that we won't go after any high priced talent a la the Hossa deal. This could be seen as settling, especially by those who think that we need just that one extra push to playoff status. Maybe signing an expensive goalie would help, too. Who knows, but in a year or two Chicago will be in a cap nightmare and will have to sell off those important assets that they've collected over the years. We'll be fine with giving the kids a raise.
You have to weigh the pros and cons of long term versus short term success. While the Blackhawks might never revert to the days of not being broadcast on TV, and only having 7,000 at a game, because of their focus on planning for the short term their success will drop off. With any luck, it'll drop off around the time that the Blues' success is just starting. Everything runs in cycles - it's up to the franchise as to how long or short that cycle is. Detroit's winding down their time in their sun, but it was a very long tenure at the top thanks to the team's management. Chicago will be lucky to have even a quarter of that. The flame that burns the brightest usually dies out the fastest.