The Blackhawks have gone through some trying times since winning three Stanley Cups in six years. They've missed the playoffs twice and have only one postseason series win, which came during the COVID-19 pandemic where the NHL included Chicago in an expanded 24-team format.
The Blackhawks are trying to build a consistent winner again by retooling their roster on the fly and relying more on their younger players. But there have been mixed messages this offseason after the organization parted ways with franchise goaltender Corey Crawford and two-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad for the second time.
In an effort to be more transparent about the direction of the franchise, the Blackhawks sent a letter to their fans on Tuesday:
"We recently said goodbye to a pair of popular, two-time champions and acquired some new players via trade and free agency. We understand it was tough to see those respected veterans go and realize you may have some questions about our direction. We'd like to address that direction and share why we're hopeful for the future of Blackhawks hockey.
We're committed to developing young players and rebuilding our roster. We want more than another window to win; we want to reach the summit again, and stay there -- an effort that will require a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players. The influx of youth and their progression will provide roster flexibility and depth throughout our lineup.
We were already the youngest team in the 2020 playoffs and several Blackhawks experienced that intensity for the first time; this will help to further establish a culture that embraces the grind of improvement driven by competitors who are relentless, engaged and motivated by a team-first mentality to win.
As our young players develop and learn how to win consistently, they'll make some mistakes. Inevitably, we'll miss the mark sometimes, too, but we'll communicate openly with you on this journey together.
We know that what comes next must be more than just words, and that inspires us."
GM Stan Bowman joined the Blackhawks Talk Podcast on Tuesday for an exclusive one-hour interview to discuss what went into the decision to be more upfront with their fans moving forward, among many other things.
"The goal is to try to be more transparent with the fans and the media and to pull the curtain back a little bit and to provide some more information on the direction that we're heading — really, that we've been heading in — but also to clarify if there is any uncertainty or confusion," Bowman said. "We don't want that. We want to do a better job of being more transparent with yourself, as well as the fans because ultimately I think that will get everyone in a better place."
No, this is not a full-blown rebuild the Blackhawks are going through. They aren't tearing it down to the ground and starting from scratch. But the process will require patience as the team looks to become perennial contenders again, and the Blackhawks recognize the importance of keeping their fans in the loop on why certain moves are being made and will be made going forward.
"It's going to be refreshing for everybody," Bowman said. "It's not always going to be great news or great conversations, but I think we owe it to the fans to know where we stand and why we're doing the things we're doing and to try to provide a little bit more context for you. You don't have to agree with all of the decisions we make. I hope by providing some background you can see ... we're not just going these things off the cuff. There's a lot of thought that goes into it.
"We don't get everything right, we recognize that, but we certainly need to get more right than wrong and when we do that, I think if you see that we're working together to build this back up that's our goal. We want to win. We want to bring great hockey back to the fans. They've been tremendous to us over these years. We want to make this exciting, so I think that's part of it. We owe it to everyone to be more open and that's part of the goal."