Typically, I am a very positive person. I find the glass half full, the silver lining in every dark cloud and think that when every door closes, another one opens. But the Chicago Blackhawks are making it very difficult for those of us in the optimist’s club to stay the course.
There’s the occasional glimmer of hope when taking to the ice against an equally struggling opponent. However, those hopes are quickly dashed as soon as a formidable foe appears.
So, where is the answer?
Where Did Everybody Go?
Through 11 games, Jonathan Toews has one goal and one assist, for a total of two points — TWO POINTS! Patrick Kane is doing a little better, with three goals and six assists, but has surely not been the impact on the ice that we are accustomed to. The struggling defense brings to question: where are Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith?
In times such as these, when a club full of young, inexperienced talent that a team’s leaders are needed to step up and bring things together. Those C’s and A’s on the sweaters are there for a reason, and as I’ve mentioned before, until we start hearing the names we’re used to hearing during game-time, things are likely to continue to stagnate.
Head coach Jeremy Colliton is charged with finding the mix to bring this cast to life. With the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Kirby Dach, the offensive talent is there and needs to be developed, and the leaders on the ice need to step up and do their jobs. Having added a cast of new faces, the question bodes as to when the core, Toews, Kane, Keith and company, will begin to gel with the likes of DeBrincat, Strome, Dach and now the recently recalled Adam Boqvist.
Much has been made this past week about Seabrook and his pair of healthy scratches from the lineup. At some point, the call needs to be made that what we’ve done in the past is no longer working, and it’s time to shuffle things up a bit. It’s no secret that the defense is a major issue, and the lack of a spark from Seabrook and Keith is spreading across the ice.
I will say I am a bit disappointed in Seabrook’s reaction. As a team leader and a three-time Stanley Cup winner, he should be more interested in the team’s success and less about his playing time. It doesn’t take an expert to see that the defense is sluggish and part of the reason for that is because he simply is not the player he once was. There comes a time in every seasoned veteran’s career that they need to step back and assume a different role.
I’m a fan of Seabs, and am hoping his leadership pedigree emerges and we see his reaction evolve to work more on helping to solve the problem, rather than pushing to perpetuate it.
On the bright side, the goaltending has been solid. Robin Lehner is boasting some of the best stats in the NHL and Corey Crawford remains steadfast. But it’s crucial that the lines in front of them begin to click, and finding that mix falls on Colliton’s shoulders.
Who is to Blame?
While many look to Colliton as the fly in the ointment, I personally feel it goes much higher than that. The problem starts at the top.
Since general manager Stan Bowman’s knee-jerk overreaction to the series loss to the Nashville Predators during round one of the 2017 Playoffs cost the Hawks Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin, things have been slowly unraveling.
Bowman’s inability to replace lost talent and manage key players have left us to watch as a steady decline in performance has taken place right before our eyes.
Of course, we all fondly look back upon those glory days of this past decade with pride, but bear in mind it was the strategic mind of Dale Tallon that assembled that machine, bringing in coach Joel Quenneville and Marian Hossa to seal the deal and the subsequent three Stanley Cups.
Bowman and Quenneville never saw eye to eye, so it’s not surprising that coach Q’s departure was predicated by having little to work with on his bench, methodically sending him on his way. On his way, incidentally, to the Florida Panthers where he once again finds himself with together with Tallon. I wonder what direction that franchise is heading?
While I don’t have an answer to the question of what it is going to take to right the ship and head back to the days of playoff appearance assumptions, it is my job to write about the person who does.
I will be anxiously awaiting his arrival.
Scott brings several years of local hockey coverage with the Kankakee Daily Journal to the Hockey Writers, along with coverage of NCAA Hockey, Softball, Basketball, and Soccer with HEROSports. He is also a regular contributor to FloSoftball and Coach & Athletic Director Magazine.