In what has been the Chicago Blackhawks’ trend through 2020-21, there is no straight path towards victory or dismay. Whether it was expecting a season full of struggles prior to its start, seeing their rookie class evolve so early, experiencing unexpected injury setbacks, or finding their way into a playoff position. While this team continues to surprise for all the right reasons, they keep encountering storylines that are not nearly as optimistic.
Thank You, Brent Seabrook!
Brent Seabrook has officially announced that he will no longer play professional hockey, following a hard-fought attempt to get back into the game, capping off what was a remarkably successful 15-year career.
“After several surgeries, countless hours of rehab and training to get back on the ice at the level of my expectations, it will not be possible for me to continue playing hockey. This is what is best for me and my family.”– Brent Seabrook
Since Seabrook’s last game played in December 2019, the star blueliner has been on what became a rollercoaster ride of recovery. The narrative went from it being an undisclosed injury, to requiring surgeries on multiple areas of his body, to hoping for a 2020 postseason return, to seeming healthy for 2020-21 training camp, to not getting into action yet this year, to the decision that he was now forced to make.
There is no doubt that the only reason this story seemed as up and down as it had become was due to Seabrook’s drive to get back into this lineup. Had it been another personality, the outcome would have likely been a lot more simplistic. After such major setbacks, they could have called it a career at that point — and justifiability so.
But Seabrook loves this game too much and obviously wanted to find a way back. As evidenced in the remarks made by Team Physician, Dr. Michael Terry:
“Over a three-month period from December 2019 to February 2020, Brent underwent successful surgeries on both of his hips and his right shoulder. He has worked extremely hard to recover from those surgeries but has a long-term issue with his right hip that is preventing him from playing professional hockey. We have tried all available conservative treatments, and nothing has worked well enough for him to live life as an athlete. We support his decision to prioritize his long-term physical health.”– Dr. Michael Terry
Unfortunately, it’s just not in the cards for him any longer. However, with that said, Seabrook can hold his head high for a career that is unmatched by many throughout the history of this league, let alone in a Blackhawks’ uniform. He was a constant presence, a familiar face, and the type of star that showed up when it mattered most for this team.
Through 15 seasons and 1,114 games played, Seabrook amassed 103 goals, 361 assists, 464 points, 1,785 blocks, 1,929 hits, and 299 takeaways, through an average ice time of 21:56 per night. Clearly, he was an asset to this team and its success. Which was on full display through their dominance of the 2010s.
Seabrook helped his Blackhawks through nine playoff runs and captured three Stanley Cup championships in that span. He averaged over 24:00 minutes of ice time per contest for Chicago, was a go-to to both protect and produce, and was part of some of the most memorable moments of their decade.
Although this may not have been the ideal ending to Seabrook’s on-ice story, what he was able to write surely lands him in the conversation among Chicago’s all-time greats. We hope he finds his way back to full health and enjoys every second of his well-earned retirement. Thank you for everything, Seabs!
Strome All Smiles
Turning things to a more positive post-injury direction, Dylan Strome was back on the ice with his teammates following his recent stint in concussion protocol. He has not yet made his way into their active lineup, but seeing him participate in practice is a good enough sign for now.
Strome has been a little snakebitten thus far throughout 2020-21, having only earned four goals and four assists through his first 19 games. That also includes a pointless streak through his last six. Hopefully, beyond returning to full health as the main priority, his activation will include a recharged affinity for finding the net.
Lankinen Continues to Impress
Speaking of things worthy of celebration in Chicago, Kevin Lankinen continues to make his mark on this city early on throughout what’s turning into quite the rookie showcase. If, for whatever reason, he hadn’t yet made it into the Calder Memorial Trophy conversation, then continuing to set new career-highs should surely help his case.
Lankinen seemingly came out of nowhere to steal Chicago’s starter spot this season. From a taxi squad addition to having now played over 65% of their games thus far through 2020-21, he’s become the primary focal point when discussing what’s made their success possible.
It would appear that Malcolm Subban and Lankinen are Chicago’s tandem the rest of the way. Both are putting up solid numbers and helping give their team a chance to win every night. Although Subban’s resurgence has surprised many in the best ways possible, Lankinen continues to prove invaluable towards this organization’s growth and future.
Overtime Streaking Complete
Heading into Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blackhawks had won their past five games that required extra time — four in overtime and one in a shootout. This was a big deal, given that they changed their fate so drastically after losing their first four that concluded beyond regulation.
After a scoreless first, the Blackhawks found their way to a 2-0 lead through the second and heading into the third. But then the reigning Stanley Cup champions showed up. Tampa Bay tied it early into the final period of regulation, and the 2-2 score held steady the rest of the way.
While it was an exciting 3-on-3 frame, with chances at both ends of the ice, the Lightning struck when it mattered most. With less than a second left before this one needed a shootout, the puck was in the back of Chicago’s net, and it was over. A heartbreaking loss, especially given that the Blackhawks had the lead and have also proven to be so effective in extra time as of late.
With that said, the fact that Chicago secured a point against this behemoth, especially after being dominated by them in their first set of the season, is a great sign of growth for this team. They’ll see them two more times in the coming days, and we’ll all get to witness how competitive this Blackhawks club can truly be.
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