The New York Post's Larry Brooks argues that the Blackhawks' top-heavy salary structure is not the reason that the Hawks were swept by the Nashville Predators:
The stars have to produce, which neither [Patrick] Kane nor ]Jonathan] Toews could do in the series in which Dennis Rasmussen scored Chicago’s only even-strength goal in what became the first 8-1 first-round sweep in NHL history.
Kane scored 30 goals in 68 games in Chicago’s three Cup championship years. When the Blackhawks lost consecutive first-round series in 2011 and 2012, No. 88 scored one goal in 13 matches. Probably not a coincidence.
More than Kane’s production was missing against the Predators, that much is obvious. Supporting pieces were unable to supply the depth that had been a critical part of the team’s championship runs. The defense is a bit too thin. The cap system has inflicted pain the way it is intended on perennial contenders.
But as [GM Stan] Bowman and his staff review the club’s demise following an unexpected 109-point season good for third overall in the NHL, there is no great need to overthink it.
The team’s most dynamic and productive player scored one goal. The team’s biggest stars — including Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov — were rendered mute. That will do it to any team in the NHL the way it always has, even when there was no such thing as a salary cap.