Surveys indicate Blackhawks fans approve of Jeremy Colliton far more than Stan Bowman

A series of Twitter polls on Wednesday revealed some interesting majorities in the fan base entering the season’s stretch run.

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Jeremy Colliton’s approval rating among Hawks fans, while still negative, is significantly higher than boss Stan Bowman’s.

Jeremy Colliton’s approval rating among Hawks fans, while still negative, is significantly higher than boss Stan Bowman’s.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

The Blackhawks finally will reconvene after the All-Star break and their bye week on Thursday in Arizona, prepping for their game Saturday against the Coyotes.

That game will begin both the 32-game stretch run of the season and an exhausting February schedule which packs 14 games, including 11 on the road, into the month.

So a lot could change in the coming weeks. But for now, the Hawks and their fans are idle in the eye of the storm, making it a good time to gauge the opinion of the fan base.

A series of Twitter polls Wednesday each garnered several hundred votes, providing a sufficient sample for the overall population.

Here are the major takeaways:

• Jeremy Colliton’s approval rating isn’t great, but Stan Bowman’s is far worse.

In a surprising twist, 48 percent of fans said they support the coach, while a mere 28 percent offered the same support for the general manager.

Colliton is just two partial seasons into his NHL coaching career and has been lightly booed before every game at the United Center for months, but he’s barely in the red.

Bowman, meanwhile, has held his position for more than a decade, but his heavy trade activity in recent years has included a few moves that have alienated some fans. The Henri Jokiharju-Alex Nylander swap of last summer is one that has generated an increasing wave of social-media vitriol lately.

Fans are nearly unanimous in favor of Robin Lehner over Corey Crawford.

The Blackhawks’ salary-cap situation for this coming offseason, and the two goaltenders’ expectations for fair and sizable contracts, make it very likely that only one of the two will stay in Chicago beyond this season.

If it does come down to a choice, a whopping 91 percent of Hawks fans would prefer retaining Lehner over Crawford, the longtime franchise cornerstone.

Considering Lehner’s terrific play and overnight popularity, as well as Crawford’s somewhat declining results and injury history, Lehner’s victory in the poll is hardly shocking. The landslide, however, is eye-opening.

• Playoff optimism is roughly in line with the actual odds.

After early results showed a slight majority were confident in the Hawks’ playoff chances, the crowd’s realism took over and shifted the final results. Eventually, only 43 percent believe in a postseason berth.

That number is intriguingly close to the team’s actual odds of making it, which stood at 39.8 percent according to MoneyPuck (or 35.9 percent per Hockey-Reference) entering Wednesday.

If the Hawks don’t make the playoffs, though, fans would prefer wholehearted tanking, presumably in search of the highest possible draft pick. Sixty-five percent said they’d prefer the Hawks to finish last in the West, rather than just below the cutoff line in ninth, even though the latter result likely would inspire more confidence entering the 2020-21 season.

Unfortunately, the Kings, Ducks and Sharks’ struggles make the Hawks’ odds of finishing 15th quite low.

Long-term optimism still abounds.

Despite the relatively negative approach to the rest of this season, Hawks fans remain on board with the long-term vision of the franchise. Seventy-four percent voted that they believe the team will be better in three years.

That’s likely due to the abundant youth on the roster, ranging from established young core members Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome to high-pedigree rookies Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach to breakout star Dominik Kubalik.

Most fan bases throughout the NHL would probably be similarly optimistic about their team’s long-term trajectory, though, and obviously not all will follow through.

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