The Chicago Blackhawks have had their fair share of bad luck and problems so far this season. The problems seem to be never-ending, but the majority of their bad luck seems to be coming from the injury bug sweeping across their locker room. Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome have both recovered and returned from their injuries, while five players are currently on injured reserve, including two who will not be returning this season.
Here is an overview of Blackhawks on injured reserve and how their losses affect the team overall.
Fans were relieved when Keith returned to the lineup after a groin injury, but their hopes for a better defensive corps were short-lived. Last week, Brent Seabrook was placed on long-term injured reserve with a shoulder injury and two hip injuries. He will undergo three surgeries over the next few months and is out for the rest of the season.
His weak season has not diminished his value in the eyes of the Blackhawks. Teammates were quick to weigh in on his prognosis and how his loss will impact the team as a whole, as Patrick Kane told NHL.com, “What he does for this team is above and beyond what anyone could imagine, to be honest with you. He’s such a good guy in the room. The aura in the locker room isn’t the same when he’s not around. He’s a huge part of this team.”
Jonathan Toews echoed a similar sentiment, but also discussed the nature of Seabrook’s injuries with NBC Sports Chicago, “He’s earned that reputation as a guy who puts the team before himself, time and time again. He’s a great leader in this locker room. Across the board, he brings it all — plays through a lot of issues and pain obviously, and he’s done that in the playoffs and regular season over the years. It’s kind of crazy to look at how many games he’s played in the playoffs and regular season. That adds up.”
At 34 years old, time isn’t on Seabrook’s side. His future is unclear, but his loss will have the most significant impact among all of the players on this list. As mentioned by Kane and Toews, he’s important for team morale. He’s been on the team since the start of his NHL career in 2005. He serves as an alternate captain and has had a role as a solidified leader for longer than most Blackhawks have been in the league. A lot of his contributions to team morale may not be obvious on the scoresheet, but it has a significant psychological impact in the locker room. Only time will tell how well the Blackhawks will adjust to this change.
Before his injury, Brandon Saad was having one of the best seasons of his career with 11 goals and 8 assists in 36 games and is tied with Dominik Kubalik with the second-most goals of any Blackhawk. Head coach Jeremy Colliton praised his performance, telling NBC Sports Chicago, “He’s been so good for us all year, and sometimes he can be a snake bit. He’s just that type of player. He gets a lot of chances, and it can be streaky for him. But regardless of him scoring, he’s important for the team. But it’s a boost when he puts it in the net.”
His numbers didn’t keep him immune from the injury bug sweeping through the Blackhawks locker room. He was put on injured reserve on Dec. 21 with an ankle injury. Losing one of their best scorers hurts the Blackhawks for obvious reasons, but there are other reasons while Saad will be missed.
Saad is no Seabrook, but he has been on the roster long enough to have earned somewhat of a leadership role as well as veteran status. He’s one of the best all-around forwards on the roster, losing someone like him to an injury will always be bad news. Luckily, Saad’s injury isn’t serious, and he is likely to return in “a couple of weeks.”
Andrew Shaw’s placement on injured reserve in late November due to concussion protocol has significantly decreased the Blackhawks’ physical presence on the ice. Like Seabrook, Shaw’s absence is horrible for team morale. The energetic presence he brings to the locker room is good for everyone, teammates, staff, and fans alike. His rough style of play keeps everyone energized and looking out for each other, and also leaves fans on the edge of their seats.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praised Shaw’s style of play, telling NHL.com, “He’s a fearless player, and he plays much bigger than his actual size. He’s got an underrated skill set. When people talk about Shaw, they always talk about his intensity and competitiveness. He does go to the net, and he scores a lot of goals from in tight, and he gets a lot of shots from around the net. That’s where you need to be if you want to score in today’s game.”
Shaw was expected to return to the roster after Christmas but has yet to be activated. However, there is no doubt that he will be a breath of fresh air upon his return.
Being in the concussion protocol, Drake Caggiula has only played 15 games this season with a total of three goals and one assist under his belt. He has a strong on-ice presence and meshes well with other forwards, making his absence all the more frustrating. The Blackhawks have struggled to find forwards who fit in well, and it’s a shame to lose one to an injury for the majority of the season.
This isn’t his first concussion in the NHL, and the discussion of his safety in the league has come into question, as he told the Chicago Tribune, “Health is the most important thing, and hockey’s not always forever. No matter what, at (some) point it comes to an end — and hopefully, it’s not anytime soon — but it is something you want to be careful about and take a lot of precautions.” (from ‘Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula knows his next concussion could end his hockey career: ‘I’ve had that conversation’’ – Chicago Tribune – 12/4/19).
Caggiula has yet to be activated off injured reserve but is expected to return to the lineup soon and is already back at Blackhawks practice.
Calvin de Haan
Calvin De Haan was recently put on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury. Like Seabrook, he’s out for the rest of the season. This is unfortunate for the Blackhawks’ already struggling defense, as he’s one of the few physical defensemen with a steady record. The Blackhawks have lacked a physical game for the past few seasons, something de Haan brings to the ice that shakes things up. He’s also the only player on the roster with more hits than Shaw. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Shaw is expected to be reactivated any day now, but the lack of physicality will be felt by de Haan’s injury.
Every Blackhawks player on injured reserve brings different skills to the ice. Some losses hurt the offense, some hurt defense, and some hurt team morale. Every loss will hurt the locker room, but only time will tell how this affects the remainder of the season.
Illinois State University graduate and lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan. I also write for The Odyssey at Illinois State and Fans Talk Sports. Other than hockey, I love to write historical fiction and nonfiction.