The Blackhawks are going through a transition phase for the first time in the Rocky Wirtz era. The organization isn’t used to this.
The calendar flipped to May on Wednesday and the Blackhawks aren’t one of the final eight teams playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ve become so accustomed to being one of the 16 teams in the dance and it hasn’t happened for two consecutive seasons now.
But Blackhawks legend and team ambassador Denis Savard believes that won’t be the case next season. And he’s confident in that.
"I'm going to tell you this: We're going to make the playoffs next year," Savard told NBC Sports Chicago’s Pat Boyle on the latest edition of Chevy Drives. "I'm looking at the cameras: We will. I'll tell you why: We're a much, much better team defensively and we played the right way, I believe the last 30 games. It started to sink into us, 'hey you, know what, Jeremy, good sell by you because they're buying into your stuff cause we have to.' And I think. Not I think, I know we will be in the playoffs."
Savard knows what it’s like to be a rookie NHL head coach for an Original Six franchise. After all, he was in Jeremy Colliton’s shoes when Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were rookies. So if there’s anyone that can relate to Colliton, it’s Savard.
While the two of them haven’t had too much communication since Colliton took over as head coach of the Blackhawks, Savard can already tell that Colliton is the right man for the job in helping the franchise turn things around.
"Not a lot, but I'll tell you he's a good coach,” Savard said. “Tough to come in the first couple months, wow. First thing I looked at was the special teams, they got better, especially the power play. The penalty kill got better, but not quite as good as the power play. Our team play the last 30 games got better. I mean, way better. So that credit's to him. I think next year coming to camp, having a good start, we're all gonna be hopefully getting in this car, in this Chevy next year saying, 'Savvy, we called it.'"
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