Welp, they’re gonna go through with it. A close-contact sport during a spreads-via-close-contact pandemic played by a collection of rockheads who breathe way too hard through their mouths as a matter of course, pushed and propped up by a cavalcade of immorally wealthy assholes who wouldn’t care what a virus did if it weren’t simultaneously attacking their bottom lines. BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED.
With a restart about two-and-a-half weeks away, we figured we might as well take a shot at talking about the Hawks happenings over the past however fucking long it’s been. We just can’t help ourselves. Let’s kick it, 900-number style.
Corey Crawford unfit to play on Day 1 & 2
In recently-used-metal-grinder-pressed-against-your-bare-ass fashion, the one guy who might have let the Hawks sneak by the Oilers wasn’t on the ice for Day 1 or 2 of camp. Deemed “unfit to play” according to Jeremy “Unfit to Coach” Colliton, it’ll be impossible to determine what’s going on with Crow. As part of the restart, injury information will be binary and vague—either a player is fit to play or not. This is the NHL and NHLPA’s effort to maintain player privacy during COVID-19, keeping in line with the NHL’s “out of sight, out of mind” business model that’s helped build such a glut of trust among the highers up of the league.
Suffice to say, if Corey Crawford misses any time, the Hawks should forfeit and not waste our time. He was the one clear advantage the Hawks had against the Oilers. Not having him goes well past “Do Not Pass Go” and into “Box up the entire fucking game, now NO ONE gets to be the dog” territory.
Without Crow, the Hawks will rely on some combination of Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, and Matt Tomkins. Against Connor McDavid (the best hockey player in the universe), Leon Draisaitl (2019–20 Art Ross Winner), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2 goals, 2 assists in 3 games against the Hawks this year), and Kailer Yamamoto (26 points in 27 games, including 11 goals, which is one more goal than Alex Nylander had through 65 games, in case you thought I fucking forgot about him). And though everything is made up and the points don’t matter at this juncture, it’s hard to have confidence that Subban or Delia will make a miracle run a la 2015 first-round Scott Darling.
To make matters worse, if Crow can’t make the bell—whether due to concussion, COVID, or simply saying “Yeah, fuck you guys,” as he is in his entire right to do—we likely won’t see him in a Hawks sweater as a player again (unless he takes a pay cut, which he shouldn’t). That would be an ending right in line with his Dangerfieldian career in Chicago. But just because he’s unfit to play for Day 1 doesn’t mean he’s necessarily done. It’s just a bad start to this farce.
If Crawford can suit up, the Hawks will at least be watchable, maybe even have a shot to advance. If not, Edmonton in 2.
Brent Seabrook unfit for play, but playing anyway
At least we can actively reminisce about times before COVID-19, since that was the last time we saw Brent Seabrook on the ice for the Blackhawks. Until now. Yes, dear reader, Seabrook was on the camp roster, skating, and getting ready for a Blackhawks playoff effort. In 2020.
Jesus Christ bare-assed on the cross. This is our reality.
It’s sincerely nice to see that Brent Seabrook is on a road to recovery from two hip surgeries, as a person and revered player in this team’s history. But for fuck’s sake, let’s fucking not. With all the precautions the team and league are saying they’re going to take regarding player health, how is Brent Seabrook playing even within the realm of acceptable?
Putting this virus to the side, which is apparently the most American fucking thing you can do these days, Brent Seabrook wasn’t in playing shape when he was in playing shape. He was somehow worse than Slater Koekkoek and Olli Maatta, which is something you’d otherwise have to try to do. Now, you want to give him a shot to be on the ice against the fastest human being on skates? I seriously debated whether I’d rather have Seabrook or Nick Seeler suit up, since at least Seeler would only get eight minutes a game. That is not a debate anyone should ever have to have.
That Coach Nathan For You is even entertaining this idea is further proof that we’re all marks for whatever outdated version of Punk’d the Brain Trust is using up its three-Cups-in-six-years goodwill to produce. The Hawks have a chance to play with house money and give Boqvist, Beaudin, Carlsson, and, fuck it, Chad Krys a chance to play meaningful-ish minutes. And yet, here’s Brent Seabrook, the answer to a question no one asked.
Quoth The Maven:
We don't need to overcomplicate it. Corey Crawford saw Seabrook was back in camp and decided he doesn't need this shit.
— Sam Fels, But Who's Buyin? (@FelsGate) July 13, 2020
Blackhawks decline to change name, logo
No surprises here, but worth a mention. With the football Washington Whatevers dropping their slur name and logo, questions about the Hawks were bound to come up. Powers did a better job of doing the history reporting than we’d do. Our thoughts on the topic live in our name. If you want a prediction, I’d say give it another 5–10 years before they seriously consider a name and logo change.
Don’t be shocked when this all falls apart
We’d be lying if we said we weren’t excited about the prospect of hockey coming back. But obviously, the circumstances are suspect. Players are going to get sick with COVID-19. It’s already happened several times—to the Lightning, to the Blues, to the Canadiens, and perhaps the Penguins, as Fels reported recently.
Nothing is normal about playing hockey at this time, despite the normalization of doing the exact opposite thing that you need to do to stop the virus’ spread. In short, this is gonna get worse before it gets better. And for what?
There’s nothing special or unique about the precautions the NHL is taking, except perhaps in its arrogance. The league has specifically stated that it’ll take more than one positive case to shut things down again, but gives no inkling about what that would take. They say they’ll do constant testing—which has gone SO WELL in the real world and is why we don’t have hundreds of thousands of new confirmed cases in the last week with no end in sight oh shit wait—but won’t give any indication about where any potential hot spots started or spread to. This all has a “remain calm, all is well” feel to it.
And while the league says that anyone who tests positive will have to quarantine, do you really think that’ll happen? Especially if someone like Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, or Connor McDavid gets it? Can’t wait to hear THOSE justifications.
Compounding this worry was Jonathan Toews’s completely normal and well-educated take on COVID-19 recently. It’s always fun to point to Toews as more of a thinker than his coworkers when he’s going Greenzo on everyone. But this is the kind of arrogance, misinformation, and willful ignorance that sets this season as the farce it is and will be.
Not to say that Toews is a shithead or anything—he’s not—but he ought to know better, especially as one of the less unsavory (savorier? This fucking language . . .) players in the game. It gives us no hope that “take one for the team” will take a backseat to doing the things we need to do to cull this pandemic, which has killed over 135,000 Americans to date, and infected 3 million plus nationwide and nearly 13 million worldwide.
But hey, that’s hockey baby, and only one thing matters, which is why we’re here at all.