Two days in arrears of this one, but thanks to the Hawks having a back-to-back we couldn’t get to Jeremy Colliton and Brent Seabrook until this morning. Such is life. But it’s worth diving into for sure.
So let’s get to the headline here, which came after Wednesday’s loss when Colliton was asked about scratching Seabrook and the reaction in the dressing room:
Colliton on scratching Seabrook maybe upsetting other vets:
“The guys in the room, I believe they want to win, so they’ve got to believe that every decision we make is to help the team win, to have success short- and long-term. That’s all I think about.”
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 19, 2019
To quote modern philosophers Devo, “CRACK THAT WHIP.”
This wasn’t couched as it had been before both under Colliton and Quenneville when he scratched Seabrook. There wasn’t any mention of rest, or just giving him a different view, or any euphemism. That’s a straight-up “This guy sucks and I think we have better players.” Of course, the Hawks tried to cover their tracks last night by saying Seabrook was left behind for some minor injury issue while he was probably calling his agent and pouting. Certainly being hung out to dry in the press didn’t help his mood much. We saw how he reacted earlier in the year to this. It was a weak attempt, however. This is where I would insert a GIF of the scene from Ghostbusters where Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig (my heart….) are debating whether or not you can put the cat back in the bag, were such a thing to exist.
Colliton went on to mention getting younger players in the lineup like Boqvist and Gilbert. Again, that’s not wrong, but it’s the talk of a rebuilding team which the Hawks have really Bird Of Paradise’d themselves to say they’re not doing. Boqvist at least should be playing all the time, and I suppose Gilbert can’t be that much worse than Seabrook now so it’s worth a free roll to see if he can be better. But it remains an organizational mixed message.
This also is basically telling the vets to shut the fuck up, and on some level you get it. They’ve had the run of the show here, and the team sucks now, so the Hawks really have to start thinking about what comes next. And what’s next is most likely to see Keith and Toews only contributors, not main cogs. Kane looks like he might still be a main cog, because he’s a mutant. Their leadership will be necessary of course, though Keith’s gruff ways have never lent themselves to being a great leader at times.
But at some point, “the core’s” wants and desires run in opposition to what’s best for the team. At least in this case, their desire to see Seabrook not fucked with does. Because the Hawks need to move on from him, plain and simple. And they know that. This was coming, as we’ve repeatedly said, no later than training camp next year when the hope would be Boqvist, Mitchell (if signed), and some other kid stake out a roster spot.
As we wrote the last time we went through this and a few times before, the Hawks had a delicate path to doing this to save face for Seabrook and themselves. They passed on that, so now they have this mess.
All that said, Jeremy Colliton is not the man to deliver this message. Because he has no cache or credibility with his team, especially the vets. We’ve known Keith has thought he’s a dolt from the get-go, and Toews basically joined him this year. Kane is placated by getting 25 minutes per night and scoring a ton, but how long that lasts I don’t know. Corey Crawford might firebomb the whole team, given what he’s been asked to cover for every start.
Colliton lost that cred by waffling on his strategy. Or by forcing seven d-men upon them to get Slater Koekkoek in the lineup against his former team who no longer knows who he is (it’s here I could argue they only had to dress seven D because Seabrook was a sacred cow still, but I won’t). The results haven’t earned him anything either. He’s been cut at the knees by both players and front office telling him to let his forwards cheat out of the zone more often, which hasn’t helped anything now that we have the greater sample on it.
So you can see why the vets would balk not at the message per se–they know Seabrook has played himself into this position, if they’ll never say it–but who is delivering it. He hasn’t earned anything from it, and they’re not going to accept it from him. I don’t even know if they’d accept it coming down from on high, given what’s gone on here the past few years. I’ll let friend of the program Chris Block settle it for you:
But, he has no credibility, so that full statement holds no weight. The Koekkoek revenge game, handling of Gus’ minutes last year, Nylander this and on… If every decision Colliton’s made, in his mind, should’ve made the Hawks a better team, that’s the story. Time’s up for him. https://t.co/LeJzPevGMK
— ChrisBlock (@ChrisBlock) December 19, 2019
So he can do the right things, but they’re in the wrong time. Which is pretty much how the Hawks have operated for four seasons now.