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Blackhawks could make changes if next season starts poorly, owner says

Wirtz reportedly answers 'nothing lasts forever' when asked about future

NHL.com @NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks could look to make changes early next season if it starts poorly, owner Rocky Wirtz said in remarks published Monday.

"We're not going to have a knee-jerk reaction," Wirtz told Crain's Chicago Business. "You can't let your emotions be in control."

He added, "I think the team will be fine. [But] if things are off at the beginning of the year, that's a different story. … Nothing lasts forever."

The report said, "Asked if that means changes could occur right after the holiday season if the team is doing poorly, Wirtz had a short answer: 'Yes.'"

Wirtz did not say what those changes might be.

The Blackhawks this season failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008, after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Goaltender Corey Crawford missed the final 47 games after being injured Dec. 23, and forward Marian Hossa will not return after missing the entire season because of a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of medication to treat it.

"The better players all had off years," Wirtz said. "There were lots of reasons."

Forward Patrick Kane had 76 points, 30 fewer than he had two seasons ago; forward Jonathan Toews had 52 points, his fewest in a full NHL season; and defenseman Duncan Keith had 32 points, his fewest in a full NHL season since 2007-08.

Each of those players has five years remaining on his contract. Wirtz was asked if he regretted giving them long-term contracts.

"No. It was the right thing to do," he said before adding, "Now they have to earn it."

The Blackhawks said April 5 that coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman would return next season.

"I believe in continuity," Chicago president John McDonough said then. "They've had an incredible body of success. We're not tethered to the past. This has been a very disappointing year and our expectations are incredibly high. We're not going to deviate from those expectations. But I believe both Stan and Joel are the guys that are going to bring this back."

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