Like the mythical Phoenix, I hath risen from the ashes of self-imposed exile to once again calm the prevailing winds of stupidity and hyperbole stinking up the city.
At the moment, the Chicago Blackhawks are as mediocre as a professional sports team can get. Even the most tunnel-visioned Blackhawks thumpers would have trouble refuting this reality. In gluttonous terminology, the team that has taken the ice night-in-and-night out for most of the 27 contest played so far in 2017 are the vanilla ice cream/cheese pizza/Goose Island Beer Co. (with exception for a few special releases) of the National Hockey League. Passable as means for calories, but bland and forgettable as shit.
And while this might be considered satisfactory in the eyes of many other cities merely fortunate enough to possess an NHL franchise, us spoiled-brat puck fans in Chicago have spent the betterment of the past decade feasting like overweight mafia dons in a Marty Scorsese film. The blandness just isn’t cutting it for us cake-eaters. It’s like going from Rosangela’s to Dominos or Zombie Dust to Goose IPA. Once you’ve acquired a taste for the good stuff, everything else just pales in comparison.
And just that’s it. We are all spoiled, petulant little shits who have grown accustomed to receiving a Lexus for Christmas each year and now find ourselves up-in-arms when Santa leaves an Audi in our driveways instead.
The consistency and dominance of the Blackhawks has molded us into this impatient and insufferably entitled entity. Almost to the point where winning has become status quo and even the slightest hint of regression sends us into a state of unrelenting panic.
Unrelenting panic that seems to be manifesting with the rallying cry of “trade Jonathan Toews” from its pitchfork-wielding vanguard.
Luckily I’m here to set things straight with a few questions pertaining to how utterly ridiculous the idea of trading arguably the greatest player in franchise history is.
1. What is it you expect to get back that is better than Jonathan Toews?
Toews – in addition to his linemates – is struggling to reach the score sheet and can be much better. A theory I’ve coined the “No Shit, Heisenberg! Principle.” I concocted that one while splitting the atom. He can be better, and he will. His Corsi of 55.1% is the highest it’s been since the 2014-2015 season and his shots on goal ranks within the top-15 of NHL centers. He and his line are essentially what you’d call snake-bitten at the present moment. But with these favorable possession stats, an explosion like the one we experienced in the first couple games of the season can come at any moment. This line is a ticking time bomb, and as the Pittsburgh Penguins learned the hard way, you don’t wanna be around for the boom. That said, what is it irate fans expect to get back for Toews of equal or greater value that will help the Blackhawks win now? Sure, by some miracle you might be able to score a player who will one day hold a higher point potential – someone who excels only in the offensive zone. But how is it you plan to replace the face-offs, the two-way compatibility, the shutdown defense/penalty kill, the locker room presence, and especially good luck finding someone as universally beloved and genuinely good-spirited off the ice. There may exist a total of four or maybe five players across the entire league that fit this complete bill, but guess what? You’re not getting any of them back in a trade for Jonathan Toews.
2. Who the hell can afford Jonathan Toews?
Toews is making $10.5 million per year from now until long after the trigger-happy egos of Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump render the Earth an uninhabitable apocalyptic wasteland. In other words, you’re more likely to discover the cure to cancer with a set of basic household appliances than a franchise that can accommodate Toews’ albatross contract. Even if there exists a team out there with the financial means to take on $10.5 million through 2022-2023, why the hell would they? If such a team does possess this space, it is likely said team is in rebuild mode. And why would any franchise in the midst of total rebuild take on such a gargantuan and untradeable contract all while forfeiting the U-HAUL’s worth of prospects and picks it would take to lure Toews from Chicago? This idea literally goes against the very principle of what a rebuild is. It’d be like the White Sox perfecting their farm system only to gut it all for a single player in the twilight years of their prime. It’s one thing if we’re talking Connor McDavid here, who remains years from what many consider the prime seasons of a player’s career. But Toews is 29. By the time said team has the developed horses to seriously contend, Toews will be well into his 30’s and a shell of the player he once was and 100 times the financial handcuff he is today. Use logic here. As an aspiring entrepreneur, would you invest $10 million in a business situated on a slowly-eroding sinkhole?
3. No-movement clause
Say it with me now: TOTAL NO-MOVEMENT CLAUSE. Even if the dominoes were to fall in some perfect synchronized form and some desperate, bottom-of-the-barrel-team with a GM clinging to his job and desperate to put asses in the seats in some shithole market were somehow swayed by Stan Bowman into inheriting Toews’ contract, why the hell would Toews agree to waive his no-movement clause to end his prestigious career in a no-win situation? I mean, you don’t live your life in Orange County, California and then choose to retire in Flint, Michigan, after all. The power resides in Toews’ hands. Bowman can waive his magic wand all he wants but it is Toews who possesses the final say in where he plays out the final years of his career. And before you bring up the prospect of a trade with Toews’ hometown of Winnipeg, the one city the Blackhawks captain may consider waiving his no-trade clause for, take a quick gander at the Jets place in the standings and then scurry on over to their CapFriendly page to check out their financials. Like the 2010 Blackhawks, this is a team with a plethora of young, potentially very pricey and very talented mouths to feed in the coming years. The last thing Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can afford is an added $10.5 million to their books. That is, unless he plans to kiss Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Connor Hellebuyck goodbye in a few years.
4. Is this how you really want it to end?
Embarrassing is the only word I can use to describe how quickly fans turn on beloved players in this city. One day you’re being hallmarked for providing fans with a lifetime of unforgettable memories, immortalized amongst the pantheon of the greats this city has been gifted with and the next you’re Frankenstein’s monster being cornered by angry villagers carrying pitchforks and torches. Jonathan Toews deserves better than being reduced to a hypothetical bullseye for you to focus your animosity toward. He’s done more for you, the hockey fan, and this city than any blogger behind any word template could ever properly convey. Jonathan Toews’ reign is one that should end in ceremony. One that mirrors a prophet ascending into the heavens aboard a chariot of fire. For what he’s done, for what he’s accomplished, he deserves nothing less. If you want to reduce this truly special, once-in-a-lifetime amalgamation of what makes the perfect sports icon and role model into simple salary cap-fodder then you need some serious self-evaluating to do. Jonathan Toews isn’t something you just trade.