It’s funny on this blog, because there are certain players who we have spent as much time defending as we have criticizing. Brent Seabrook may top the list. After he signed his extension, it felt like once a week we had to explain to people why having two Canadian Olympic defensemen on the team for the long haul was a good idea. Then, when Seabrook was carrying around three pounds of nachos in his upper intestine, or at least sure skated like it, we kept having to point out just how sluggish he looked and how much Keith was bailing his overstuffed ass out (in particular to one certain Hawks blogger).
And then Seabrook had last season, where he looked better, skated better, played better, cemented himself as something of the heartbeat of the whole dressing room, and no one said anything. Which is preferable. Of course, with Biscuit heading into a free agent season and every Hawks fan having Cap Paranoia (Self-Destroyah’!…AND IT GOES LIKE THIS!), he’s probably headed in for a season of everyone looking at him quite intensely, trying to figure out if he’s worth paying what he very well might ask (which could be somewhere between $7-8 million per).
Last Year: 82 games, 8 goals, 23 assists, 31 points, -3, 27 PIM, 52.1% Corsi (-2.6 Relative), 50.1% Corsi of Competition
Playoffs: 7 goals, 4 assists, 11 points, +5, 10 PIM, 54.1% Corsi (+3.6 Relative), 51.6 Corsi of Competition
Clearly, the playoffs were a different beast of Seabrook (I’ll never be… your beast of Seabrook…actually scratch that because I hate that fucking song with the fury of 1000 suns). While like a lot of Hawks, Seabrook got through the regular season doing just enough, he raised his game in the playoffs and provided something of a springboard for Keith to do his Achilles act. Seven goals in the playoffs for a defenseman is something of an avalanche of twine-denters, and a fair few were important. OT winner against Nashville, what really should have been the clincher against Anaheim in Game 4, the one that got the Hawks within one at the end of the 2nd in Game 5 of the same series, the nail in Game 7, and a go ahead goal in Game 2 of the Final. Seabrook’s physicality was once again on display, possibly because he could actually skate fast enough to get there in time. He remains the best passer on the blue line the Hawks have.
Feather wrote about this in our commemorative issue and here as well, but it can’t be ignored the role Seabrook played in calming whatever troubled waters the Hawks had in their dressing room. While it became curious that someone had to say something every day, it was Seabrook who was first and it was Seabrook who did it unsolicited. While we may never know for sure, it certainly felt like Seabs was leading the charge of “Enough of this bullshit” and got his teammates focused on the task at hand. There’s a reason he’ll be taking Sharp’s “A.”.
Next Year’s Outlook: I suppose the first question I have for this season is who Seabrook is going to be paired with and what’s his role. My hunch is that he’s going to be paired with Hjalmarsson to form the Hawks “shutdown” pairing, as he has been at various times the past couple seasons. Q will want to keep Keith unleashed, and there really isn’t anyone else who could combine with Hammer to take on the opponents’ best.
That would also allow for maybe a little more offensive freedom for Seabrook, who isn’t just a free safety back there, or at least doesn’t want to be. Let’s face it, this is a free agent year for Seabs, and he’s going to have something of an urge to make things count offensively to drive up the price of what is almost certainly his last big payday. And of course, we know that Seabrook can go a little cowboy in the wrong end, leaving him huffing and puffing after streaking forwards the other way.
And all season we can look forward to HOT TAEKS about what Seabrook is worth to the Hawks and whether or not they should move him at the deadline or they can’t pay him this or that and will he take a hometown discount and is he a TRADER if he doesn’t and whatever other garbage usually comes with this. Of course, Seabrook’s contract situation is probably tied up in someone else’s, but I would be borderline shocked if Seabrook is allowed to leave (especially as the Hawks have basically dumped every defensive prospect that would have ever had a hope of stepping in).
With that situation looming, I doubt we’ll see the Jack Cheese infused human eephus pitch that Seabrook was for large swaths of 2013 and 2014. Which means you can basically bank on the poor man’s Pronger that he’s been for most of his career. Not a bad thing to have in the least.