There is a chance, perhaps even a likely one, that the 2012-13 NHL season will not start on time … or even at all.
But that fact didn’t stop Chicago Blackhawks fans from buying single-game tickets Monday morning (myself included) despite there being some social media campaigns urging fans to boycott the owners by not buying tickets.
While I am also upset with the owners, I can see why Blackhawks fans quickly ate up the remaining tickets for this season. Despite being very quiet in free agency, the Blackhawks may actually be the best team in their division for that exact reason.
That may seem a little odd, but let me explain.
Nashville has lost their prized defenseman, Ryan Sutter, to the Minnesota Wild. Detroit is getting old and will definitely be affected by the loss of Nikloas Lidstrom. Columbus…well, Columbus isn’t a threat to any NHL team. They’ve lost Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, but even with Nash that team wasn’t going anywhere.
On the flip side, the ‘Hawks still have the talents of many of their longtime players.
The offense for the ‘Hawks should be one of the best in the league. If they can get the powerplay fixed they’ll be scary.
Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane are all in their prime and should be on the top of the league in terms of offensive production. Marian Hossa is getting a little older (33), but he can still play, showing that last season when he lead the team with 77 points.
Viktor Stalberg is vastly improving and is emerging as an offensive threat. Dave Bolland is a fantastic shutdown center if he can stay healthy. Youngster Andrew Shaw has all the potential to be the breakout player this season.
The defense and special teams still worry me, but I remain confident in Corey Crawford, the return of Daniel Carcillo, and then continued improvement of Nick Leddy, I am hoping the defensive line holds their ground.
With all that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘Hawks and the St. Louis Blues found themselves fighting for the top spot in the Central Division. They’re the two teams in the division that didn’t lose any significant player in the offseason.
All this optimism and potential I have for the next season only makes the looming possibility of a lockout that much worse. A lost season would mean a lost opportunity for Sharp, Kane, and Toews during the prime of their careers when they have another legitimate chance at a Stanley Cup title.
There’s no replacing a legitimate opportunity at a championship lost to a labor dispute.
There is a possible benefit from the lockout, though.
The Blackhawks, for the past few years, have been ranked as one of the teams with the best prospects. That’s no different this season. The two most talked about prospects this training were forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Brandon Saad.
Both are expected to make the NHL team in the next year or so. And the ‘Hawks’ other offensive threats, though having a year taken off while in their prime if a lockout occurs, will still be okay in terms of talent if a season is missed. If Teravainen and Saad do live up to the hype, the ‘Hawks will be outstanding on the offensive front.
So, would a lockout actually…benefit…the ‘Hawks?
I wouldn’t be rooting for a lockout. Teravainen and Saad might actually become great players, but I am much more confident that the ‘Hawks will thrive in what I think is a weakened Central Division than putting my faith in two prospects.
Besides, the ‘Hawks are still a good team with Teravainen and Saad. It would be a rather dumb decision to want a cancellation of the season when your teams is good.