The season is over. It should not have ended like this. The Chicago Blackhawks‘ season ended in total heartbreak thanks to a bad bounce off the stick of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. The Blackhawks missed a big opportunity to go to the Stanley Cup Finals and be the first team to win back-to-back Cups since 1998.
But when it’s all said and done, 2013-14 will be seen as a season of missed opportunities.
Thanks to a multitude of factors, many of them out of their control, the Hawks could not live up to their magical run of 2012-13. In just this series alone, the Hawks missed so many opportunities to score, stop a big goal or finish off the Kings. The power play and penalty kill were both missed opportunities. Just the chance to come back from that 3-1 deficit will hurt.
But it wasn’t just in the playoffs. The Hawks had a hot November and December when it looked like they were going to win a second-straight President’s Trophy. But a general malaise set in after Christmas, and things went south fast. They could barely score or play defense.
Patrick Kane, who looked like he was going to finally break through as the scoring champion, faltered through a combination of bad lineup choices and a personal malaise. It culminated in a horrible performance at the Olympics.
Patrick Sharp, despite winning a gold medal, could not keep up his scoring streak. Kris Versteeg and Brandon Bollig could not live up to their high-profile signings, and prospects like Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin got the shaft thanks to Joel Quenneville‘s inexplicable inability to trust them.
In the end, Pirri, one of the team’s bright spots in their farm system, ended up being traded. Only time will tell what happens with Morin. Let’s hope he and Teuvo Teravainen do not suffer the same fate.
This loss hurts. A lot. But knowing things could have been better hurts even more. The Blackhawks will have to put this season behind them if they want to win in 2014-15. The season may not have been a failure, but one cannot help but feel very disappointed in the way things ended. It was one big missed opportunity.