The Chicago Blackhawks, the worst team you know, got all the luck

The Chicago Blackhawks, the worst team you know, got all the luck

Tanking isn’t a plan, at least in leagues with a lottery. It’s a wager. A GM or front office or owner isn’t putting up money, other than the lack of tickets and merch they’ll sell while their team is shit. They’re putting up a season or many of complete haplessness with rosters devoid of useful players who promise a future, on the chance that things will break their way with ping-pong balls. It’s why it’s a lottery. You can make it as safe a wager as you can by being the worst around, but it’s still a wager.

As anyone can tell you, sometimes bets pay off. It’s why there’s a multi-billion dollar gambling industry, after all. Even bad ones sometimes cash out. That’s what the Chicago Blackhawks found out last night. They wagered this season and possibly three or four after it that they could be handed Connor Bedard. They didn’t even finish worst in the league, but the randomness of ping-pong balls doesn’t really care that Luke Richardson turned out to be a pretty good coach or Alex Stalock ended up playing far better than anyone would have ever guessed. Sometimes the ball lands on 27, or you catch a six on 15.

But they won, they caught that card, and now their entire franchise’s direction and feeling changed. Bedard is, or most likely will be, the kind of player that acts as a pivot point for a team all on his own. The biggest question any team in any sport has to face is, “Where are you gonna find your DUDES?” The Hawks have that answer now. There’s a good chance that in five years’ time, they’ll have the league’s preeminent DUDE.

To say it made the hockey world gag would be an understatement. The Hawks have been a swear word and rightly so for a couple years, since it came out what they’d done to Kyle Beach. Should the Hawks even have had this pick that came up as the golden ticket and not have it stripped by the NHL? There’s certainly a case. Should it be Rocky Wirtz who is already benefiting from the waterfall of season ticket money pouring in to watch the next era’s defining player? Almost certainly not. But those ships have sailed.

Other than Wirtz, there isn’t anyone left to punish. Everyone’s been fired, and even if there were rumors that Stan Bowman or Joel Quenneville could wash up in another locale this summer have been quickly squashed by the fact that Gary Bettman would have to sanction their hiring and that isn’t close yet. It probably will be one day, but we’re not there yet. And we’re numb to owners getting away with it by this point.

Blackhawks moved on from franchise faces Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews

Hawks’ GM Kyle Davidson spent the year trying to rush whatever came before out the door. Aggressive trades around last June’s draft for a team that wasn’t going anywhere anyway, not even a thought of contract extensions for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, a constant theme of moving on as Kane was traded and Toews told he was playing his last games in Chicago. The Hawks made it clear all that was over. Most want to view it as the Hawks being rewarded for being evil, but it’s actually much closer to them being rewarded for trying to cleanse all that as quickly as possible and dumping every player and employee connected to it. Ping-pong balls don’t care about karma anyway.

Bedard arriving means the Hawks won’t have to trade on nostalgia anymore, which they had been for a couple seasons, while also trying to get the sludge of all that went on as deep in the rearview as they could. Fans can focus on what’s to come instead of trying to remember what came before. Winning the Bedard lottery means once again anticipating the charge on a winter night as you walk to the arena for a game that matters. Or when the clocks change in the spring and the team is still in it and the games mean something more. Spring nights at the bar where overtime causes one to go three or four beers over their stated target for the night. Involuntary fist pumps and yelling and cursing and caring again.

That’s why we do it after all.

The Golden State Warriors aren’t dead, but it’s not looking good

It would be unwise to declare the Warriors dead, as some were inclined to do when they went down 2-0 to Sacramento last round. They long ago entered the have-to-see-the-body territory. But this series against the Lakers shows just how amazing they were to play the style they did and have it always work. Because when it goes off the boil, it is unsightly indeed.

Brainless turnovers, Klay’s contested threes with 20 seconds on the shot clock, Steph unable to break down Anthony Davis with two chances on the dribble, it all actually looked pretty fragile. Which it never did when it works. It was a high-wire act that just never fell off. And it might get back up on there again for good. But it doesn’t take much for it to go from a stunning feat of grace and precision to just…messy.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate while he repeatedly begs Bedard to drop the stupid No. 98.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.