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Game #27 – Hawks vs. Predators Spotlight: Ryan Hartman And The Ever-Changing Message

Whatever the Hawks were selling you about trading Ryan Hartman, it’s proven to be just this side of horseshit. That’s not to say Ryan Hartman would greatly change the fortunes of this Hawks team. But ask yourself who you’d rather watch thrash around on the bottom-six right now, him or Chris Kunitz?

Ryan Hartman sits in the nexus of a lot of Hawks arguments, kind of undoing them all. We’ll see if we can untangle them in no particular order.

The Hawks love to make it known that they are all in favor of compensating their players. It’s part of the reason Bryan Bickell and Brent Seabrook got the contracts they did (from whoever ordered it in the front office). It’s why they made sure to tell everyone who would listen they wanted Artemi Panarin to hit his bonuses when he was going after those in his entry-level deal, no matter the headaches it caused. The Hawks want their players, and others, to know that they will be treated well. You earn what you get with the Hawks, at least that’s the story.

They’re also terrified of paying anyone, with only some of that due to salary cap problems. The rest is poor decisions. Hartman was traded partially because he was coming out of his entry-level deal. Though that didn’t seem to scare the Predators, who just handed him a one-year deal because Hartman hasn’t really proven to be anything yet. Yet another thing the Hawks don’t like to do is play hardball with players, but the Preds didn’t mind taking advantage of Hartman’s zero leverage.

But it’s the same reason, or one of, that Teuvo Teravainen was moved along when he was. Same with Nick Leddy. Same with Panarin, from the contract the Hawks gave him. Brandon Saad before. This list goes on. When you’ve been burned by bad contracts before, you get itchy, even though you want everyone to know how much you love giving contracts to your players. It’s even worse when you’re not prepared to stare anyone down in negotiations, which as callous as it is is pretty necessary in a hard cap league.

Another theme around the Hartman trade was that the Hawks got a first-rounder back for him, along with Victor Ejdsell. Well, Ejdsell is yet to be here, and Hartman himself was a first-rounder taken around the same spot that the pick he netted was. The Hawks got Nicolas Beaudin out of it, and no one can safely say what he’ll be. What the Hawks did was simply kick that down the road a couple years. And yet they were telling you they wanted to compete this season for a playoff spot. Except they didn’t fill the spot Hartman occupied with anything productive or useful. It’s an empty spot right now. Hartman would be more productive in it than nothing. What about that says, “win now?” Because the prize appears to be Beaudin, that puts the return two years in the future, which sure seems like a rebuilding plan.

The third thing was about Joel Quenneville. The whispers after the trade was that Hartman was the most vocal about the problems Q had with the younger players on the roster. Hartman shuffled from wing to center and back, up and down the lineup and sometimes into the pressbox. And he was one of the first to claim he didn’t know why any of it was happening and the coach wasn’t telling him what he needed to do. So instead of letting that fester and spread, the Hawks moved him along.

And then a mere handful of games later, the Hawks fired Quenneville anyway. Partially because they felt he wasn’t getting anything near the most out of their young players, who were getting agitated about their ever-changing roles and little description of them. So…Hartman was right? Was it worth trading him for futures then?

If the front office had cooled on Q by then, why did he get to win on this player? Especially a player who was then moved along for what appears to be nothing more than a lottery ticket to be cashed in a couple years from now. Now the Hawks don’t have either.

Again, Hartman is not the player who swings the fortunes of this team one way or the other. He’s just an exhibit of the confusion and vacancies in the current Hawks ethos.


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