Hockey

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Game Time: 9:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720
Supporting Caste: Copper n BlueOilers Nation

It was never going to be as straightforward as it felt like it might be during the first 40 minutes of Game 1 on Saturday afternoon. That fact was smashed home with the force of Mjolnir and the speed of Evan from Superbad right away in Game 2, and it left the Hawks chasing a much faster team from Jump St. to leave the series tied going into a PIVOTAL Game 3 late this evening. Because ALL games are pivotal at the moment. It’s immutable hockey law.

Hockey

vs

Game Time: 9:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN, NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Rural Alberta Advantage: Copper n Blue, Oilers Nation

 

While it was pretty well assumed that the preliminary series between the Oilers and Hawks was going to have all the defensive structure of a Jackson Pollock rough draft, Saturday afternoon’s tilt showed just how silly this whole thing has the potential of getting in a hurry. And fortunately the Hawks came out on top putting the Oilers immediately on their heels in this short 5 game series.

Hockey

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

God damn it, I didn’t realize how much I missed this motherfucking game. From start to finish, it was a never-ending adrenaline rush of emotion. Before we get into the recap, an important reminder: We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. There are still millions of people who don’t have the same fucking privilege we do to have a moment to breathe through a sport. Donate blood, donate to your local food banks, donate to a bond fund, help your neighbors, help those you don’t even know. Do whatever you can to help those in need, because the so-called leadership of this country refuses to.

Matt Dumba’s speech was remarkable. I’m totally surprised that the NHL even let him do what he did, which is both a relief and troubling. You could feel the power in each quiver of Dumba’s voice. It was a wonderful, meaningful, powerful speech, something we should never forget as these play-ins and playoffs move forward. If there’s anything not to like about what Dumba went through today, it’s that he had to do it at all and that he found himself kneeling on his own. While it was touching to watch Subban and Nurse stand at his side, you wish everyone else would have joined him.

Nonetheless, Matt Dumba made a powerful statement that far overshadows anything else that happened on the ice. It was a pleasant surprise from a league that often doesn’t live up to its ideals. And if you have any problem with what Dumba did at all, eat fucking shit you dumb motherfucker.

– I guess even a drooling dog’s sore dick can shoot one off every once in a while. The Blackhawks were three of six on the PP, which was far better than even the most optimistic could have predicted. Yes, it’s a huge problem that the Oilers scored three of their four goals on their PP, but we can safely rest assured that we successfully pulled a Fels Motherfuck on the special teams thus far. While this one feels good, with the likelihood of Koskinen starting going forward, the Hawks oughtn’t rest on their laurels. The Oilers have proven they can do it regularly. The Hawks have not.

– Dominik Motherfucking Kubalik, my frents. His five points today set a playoff-debut record for points from a rookie (and Sportsnet called it a playoff record, so it’s official: The Hawks are a playoff team). And what a performance he had throughout. On the Hawks’s first PP, he backhanded a pass from Kane to a wide-open Toews, who hardly needed to exert any effort to snap the shot home. His assist on Saad’s tip-in off a Maatta point shot (FUCKING WHAT???) was art, as was his pass from behind the net through the Royal Road to Toews on the Hawks’s second PP.

But the best part of Kubalik’s game came on his one timer from Keith in the second period. It’s a pleasant surprise to see how good Kubalik has become at just about every aspect of the game, but his rocket shot is still Sue at the Field.

Whatever it takes this off-season, you have to re-sign Kubalik. Whatever it takes. Someone start the GoFundMe that forces Seabrook to trade contracts with Kubalik now. Thanks.

Jonathan Toews was the guy doing all the fucking early in this game. Two goals (both on the PP), an assist, and simply pulling it out and slamming it on the table at the dot against McDavid. The big concern here was how the Toews line would keep up with either Draisaitl or McDavid, and they simply crushed them.

– Early in the game, it looked like we might get the version of Saad that we don’t like to admit exists: the one who gets lackadaisical and isn’t giving MORE. It was evident on McDavid’s goal, when McDavid curled just past the blue line only to power himself toward the near-side dot to receive a pass from Draisaitl across ice. There’s no good excuse to leave the best player in hockey that wide open, even on the PK, but Saad did.

But aside from that, Saad was excellent. He had an 81+ CF% at 5v5 to go with his two points (1 G, 1 A), which is hard to argue with. The Hawks’s top line was nails when it needed to be.

– Kirby Dach may have only had one assist, but he’s a future star. His aggressiveness on the end boards before Toews’s first PP goal led to a puck squirting onto Kane’s stick. Despite taking a hard check, Dach still managed to keep the puck moving. He’s special, and I take back saying that picking him over Bowen Byram was a bad call.

– We all thought this series would go through Crawford. It probably still will. But today wasn’t especially confidence inducing. On Draisaitl’s goal (the Oilers’s second in the game), Crow made an outstanding save at first, but struggled to recover in the crease after hitting the ice. He had enough time to find his feet, but he just didn’t. He looked lost at times, which could be a concern as the Oilers seemed to find their groove late. Nothing to light yourself on fire about just yet, especially with three of the Oilers’s four goals coming on the PP, but something to watch. Crow will need to find it a little more smoothly if the Hawks hope to advance. They can’t win without him being the rock.

– I said that the Hawks would lose any game in which they gave up more than three penalties. I might have Motherfucked them today. It’ll be crucial for Colliton to get his pretty head out of his skinny ass and avoid any more TOO MUCH MAN penalties. I’m willing to give a pass on today’s, but any more of that horseshit will bury this team.

– It’s only one game, but I have seen enough of Alex Nylander on the second line. He’s a lazy airhead who doesn’t finish. It doesn’t matter how fast he CAN be or how hard his shot CAN be when neither Kane nor Strome trust him enough to get him the puck. While we’d rather not see Dach fester with him and Caggiula, there were several spots where the Kane line had chances that Nylander’s stargazing stopped in its tracks. Flip Top Cat and Nylander. At least Top Cat has shown he’s willing to play bigger than he is.

– Watching Dylan Strome bank a goal in off Mike Smith’s dumb ass after his “No, we’re really going to an Escape Room, it’ll be fun!” puck-handling escapade ought to have cost $49.95. It rules that he not only got the start but also shat his pants. Fuck him.

It’s still a huge uphill battle for this team. With Koskinen likely slated to start the remainder of the games, goals won’t come as easy as they did today. Stopping the Nylander experiment and getting Crawford to be less wonky will be the focus on Monday. But they got Game 1, and that can make all the difference.

Let’s go Hawks.

Booze du Jour: Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams, and Miller High Life

Unironic Line of the Night: Everything Matt Dumba said.

Ironic Line of the Night: “The Blackhawks just winning the races to the pucks.”  –Doc

Hockey

We close our position-group previews for the upcoming Hawks-Oilers play-in series by visiting the most important position in the game. In spite of all the star power up front for both teams in the likes Patrick Kane or Connor McDavid, it’s quite possible that this series comes down entirely to the two men standing in the crease. It’s well-established now that goalies are capable of stealing or throwing a series entirely on their own, and considering the goalies playing in this series and the circumstances around them of late, it certainly seems like either of those options are equally on the table. Let’s dig in.

Oilers Goalies

Probable Starter: Mike Smith

On Roster: Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner

The Oilers are still playing the typical hockey unknown game in terms of who will be their starting goalie for the series with the Hawks, but given his history with coach Dave Tippet and overall experience, I think it’s safe to say Mike Smith is the favorite to get the job overall. Smith’s numbers in the regular season were somewhat strange, as he had a fairly respectable 2.95 GAA but a sub-optimal .902 save percentage in 39 appearances. He was even worse at 5v5 with an even .900 SV%, and when you check the venue- and score-adjusted 5v5 stats he finally dips below the Goalie Mendoza Line to a .899 SV%. His goalie play is no longer what it was in his prime (which was not that great anyway) but worry not, as he is still a giant shitbaby.

On the flip side, Mikko Koskinen had a much more impressive regular season, posting a 2.75 GAA and .917 SV% in 38 appearances. And continuing his trend of being opposite-of and better than Smith, Koskinen’s stats improved at 5v5; he posted a .924 SV% at evens, and it drops only slightly to a .922 when adjusted for score and venue.

If this “playoff” series were happening in the immediate aftermath of a season, Edmonton would be incredibly dumb to start Smith over Koskinen. However, it’s been more than four months since anyone played a hockey game that meant anything, and four months since either of these goalies took the crease, so the Oilers’ decision is going likely going to be based more on their restart camp and exhibitions, making it a toss-up. Regardless, I don’t think either goalie is especially impressive or intimidating, but neither should be discounted either.

Blackhawks Goalies

Probable Starter: Corey Crawford

On Roster: Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen

In a vacuum, there would be no question that Corey Crawford would be in the net for the Hawks when the puck drops on Saturday. Unfortunately, this is not a vacuum, and thus we have many questions that need to be answered before this season starts. Crawford continued his reign as one of the best goalies in the NHL – still without the proper recognition or appreciation, of course – with a 2.77 GAA and .917 SV% in 40 appearances this year. That save percentage jumped to an eye-popping .926 at 5v5, both in raw numbers and when adjusted for score and venue. Without being too disrespectful to the other goalies on the roster, Crawford is probably better than the rest of them combined and in normal circumstances if he were to be benched in favor of any of them it would be a travesty.

But again, this is not a vacuum and these are not normal circumstances. Unfortunately, Crawford recently recovered from testing positive for COVID-19, which kept him in Chicago longer than the rest of the Hawks; he just returned to the team and practice last Saturday, giving him just a week to get back into game shape after four months off *and* dealing with the virus. This does create something of a question in terms of if Crawford will be fully ready to play come Saturday. Should the answer be no, my guess is the crease would go to Malcolm Subban, who was once a top goalie prospect in the game but has never really reached his potential. He barely played after being acquired in the Robin Lehner trade – he got into one game for exactly 1:10 – and he posted a .890 SV% in 20 appearances for Vegas. That is not great, so if Crawford cannot play, this could get even uglier for the Hawks than even the ugliest scenario you’ve envisioned.

Advantage: Hawks…. maybe?

If Crawford plays, there is no question that the Hawks have the advantage here, even if the Oilers start Koskinen. Crawford being able to play, and doing so in top form, is the Hawks’ best chance of winning this series, let alone anything beyond that. Quite frankly, I have my doubts that they can really do win even with Crawford playing, but that’s a different conversation. If Crawford cannot go, though, the scale tips in Edmonton’s favor. If Crawford cannot play, this could really become a 3-game sweep for the Oilers.

Hockey

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:

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.

Hockey

Hola amigos. It’s been a long time since we rapped at ya, but shit’s been hectic here at HQ enduring wave after wave of pestilence.

Even with that being said, NHL teams league wide that will be participating in the expanded playoff tournament in three weeks broke camp today, including the Hawks. Before getting into some observations coming out of today’s practice, let it first be said that any plans for sports to return in this country are wantonly irresponsible and unearned, even with as uncharacteristically thorough a plan as the NHL has laid out. With the disease raging elsewhere in the country and climbing a little locally on the heels of a hasty re-opening, any sports even as a diversion are completely unearned and reckless. But the unrelenting machine of capital feels no compunction about throwing bodies at the problem in the name of recouping whatever lost TV revenue they can. This will be the overriding sentiment going forward, but as long as they’re going to do this, we’ll try to cover it as best we can here.

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Let’s not bury the lede you came for, dear reader. So long as the NHL plays this summer, the 2019–2020 Chicago Blackhawks are a playoff team (sort of), just like the Brain Trust fucking said. Chicago will get its first taste of playoff hockey (sort of) since Nashville smacked it out of their mouths in their piss yellows three years ago.

Given the circumstances, there was no chance that whatever the Board of Governors (or whoever) and NHLPA came up with would be the belle of the ball. But the whole what-have-you they did come up with isn’t as horrid as you’d expect from this condom-in-the-toilet of a league. The seven worst teams in the league don’t get playoff hockey. They’ll likely have any playoffs in just two Hub Cities to reduce travel. Bettman talked about the nebulous concept of “having enough testing” before things resume. And most importantly for us, the Hawks will be there, which, combined with the Habs making it, is a Gribble of an idea.

So, here’s what we know and don’t know, relative to the Blackhawks (mostly).

What We Know

The Regular Season is over. All stats, awards, and the like will be based on where the league stood when it paused on March 12. DETROIT SUCKS.

Playoffs determined by points percentage. Never hurts to play in a conference with the Ducks, Sharks (apparently), and Kings, the only teams worse than the Hawks in the West. Two teams that got the pud-end of this deal are Buffalo and New Jersey, who each played two fewer games than Montreal and could have jettisoned over them with just one win in either game. Back and to the left.

Top seeds play round robin, lower seeds play elimination. The top four teams from each Conference will play each other in a round-robin format to determine their seeds. This round robin will use REGULAR SEASON RULES, which includes five-minute OTs and the spicy late-Sunday-morning giardiniera fart that is the shootout. If the round robin ends in a seeding tie, then regular season points percentage will determine the higher seed. Each of these eight teams have a guaranteed spot in the first round and will end up playing one of the remaining 16 teams that will play qualifying rounds.

The bottom eight teams in each Conference will play a best-of-five series for a shot to move on to the first round. The qualifying round uses PLAYOFF OVERTIME RULES, which is a full fucking 20 minutes of overtime hockey until there’s a fucking winner, baby. Who plays whom is based on points percentage. So, the 5 seed faces the 12 seed, the 6 seed faces the 11 seed, and so on. The winners of the qualifying rounds in each Conference will play one of the four top-seeded teams in their Conference, but there’s not much detail after that.

The Blackhawks will play the Oilers when shit gets going. The Hawks get first dibs at the Connor McDavid experience. The Hawks managed to beat Edmonton two of three times during the regular season. With the qualifying round taking a best-of-five format, the Hawks have a legitimate shot at not just making the playoffs (sort of) but also advancing.

At the season’s pause, the Oilers were a bottom-five Corsi team. They have a game-breaking forward and current Art Ross winner. Aside from goaltending, when the Oilers look into a mirror, the Blackhawks scream back. In the words of ol’ JR, this has SLOBBERKNOCKER written all over it. If ever this city were going to appreciate the beauty of Corey Crawford, this playoff series would be it. With at least three future Hall of Famers between these forward corps and a sun-bleached blown-out diaper on the ass ends of each team, goaltending will likely be the thing that wins this series. And Corey Crawford is fucking better than Mike Smith, 2011–12 be damned.

The draft will be a fucking zoo. We’ll probably talk more about this in a different post, but the Hawks could have a 3% chance at the first overall pick if they’re eliminated by the Oilers, and some other goofy shit also happens that we don’t feel like thinking about right this second.

What We Don’t Know

Where or when things will start. We know that teams will end up playing in one of two Hub Cities. One city will serve as a hub for the East, the other a hub for the West. Bettman mentioned 12 potential cities they could use as a hub, including Chicago, Toronto, Las Vegas, and Edmonton (but not Arkush). But outside of that, we don’t know which cities they’ll play in.

We also don’t know exactly when things will start. Bettman made it clear though that formal training camps—otherwise known as “Phase 3”—would not start anytime before July 1. So, best case, you’re likely not looking at any actual hockey until about mid-July, since the NHL hasn’t even reached Phase 2 (voluntary practices at home facilities with like six total players or something). That assumes that the NHL will have the means—both physically and financially—to conduct the constant COVID-19 testing necessary to prevent another massive outbreak.

What the playoffs look like after the qualifying rounds. After the round robin and qualifiers, there’s not much info. Bettman explicitly said that they will not reveal how matchups work because it’s what the players wanted. He hinted that they’ll likely do it by seeding or brackets, which is a welcome respite from their bend over, shit on the wall, and read the Rorschach method they’ve been using since any of the previous lockouts.

The only thing we know for sure is that Conference Finals and the Cup will be a best of seven.

Whether any of this will happen at all. Bettman made a point to say that the NHL won’t resume play until they get the go-ahead from health professionals and governments to do so. Given how cohesive and in agreement everyone in this armpit nation has been about even the simplest of sacrifices in such aspects as “wearing a fucking mask in public even if you’re a healthy person” and “not drinking bleach as a cure,” there’s still a very real possibility that this is all window dressing.

What’s Next?

We’ll have thoughts on all this shit as more information trickles out. But for us as Blackhawks fans, you’ll take this setup. While the Oilers aren’t a pushover, they’re the precise team that the Hawks can at least try to outgun.

Yes, McDavid and Draisaitl are going to kick gum and chew ass against whichever combination of Seeler–Maatta–Gilbert–Koekkoek Coach Nathan For You throws out there. But they’ll also have to deal with Playoff Garbage Dick on months of rest, which probably means 40 minutes of Kane every fucking night. This playoff format fits right into the strengths of Colliton’s system.

And until Corey Crawford shows us that he isn’t the guy doing all the fucking, it’s hard to bet against him in favor of Sike Mmith.

It’s not pretty. It’s not perfect. It’s hockey. And the 2019–2020 Blackhawks are in the playoffs (sort of).

Just like the Brain Trust fucking said.

Hockey

As Feather points out regularly on our podcast, “reading the tea leaves” has gotten frustrating and fatiguing. It’s just about all we can do these days, given how little the Hawks let out and what does get out never puts them in a good light these days.

To say Duncan Keith is tired of Jeremy Colliton’s act is pretty much in the same fashion as telling you tomorrow’s Tuesday. Last night’s dejection doesn’t really change that. You can watch Keith play his own game that has nothing to do with Colliton’s supposed “system” and know he’s got no use for him. It’s been pretty obvious since Colliton took over that Keith at best eyed him with suspicion and at this point openly despises him.

Toews has always been the tougher read, but seeing as how he wasn’t afraid to bus-toss his coach in the media all the way back in November, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to suggest he’s pretty much had it as well. Toews is the captain and will always do his best to hold things together, but he can also hear the clock ticking on his career, or at least his peak years, and a third-straight year of going home in mid-April is not something that’s going to sit all that well.

Patrick Kane has hinted at wanting to talk with the front office after the season. It’s the closest Kane has come to suggesting he wants changes and won’t be afraid to say so to the people in charge.

Brent Seabrook is a different kind of case, given he just has to get healthy and what the plan is for him here long-term. Corey Crawford’s is as well as he’s a free agent and can simply turn around and head somewhere else if he doesn’t like what’s on offer, either for him or the team as a whole.

We’ve briefly talked about it on the podcast, and maybe we’ll get to it again this week, but what will the Hawks do if the main three, or all five, demand changes in coach or GM or both? Would they even? Would they go over Stan’s head? We’ve seen them go around the coaches before, when everyone wanted Mike Kitchen punted off Joel Qunneville’s staff in that summer that nearly ended with Q in Montreal and the Hawks with a new coach.

As we’ve always said, the main three don’t have a ton of leverage. They could demand Colliton be fired or they’ll ask out, but the Hawks don’t have to move them in that scenario. It’s hard to fathom that any of them would go public with a demand to get out, and short of that it’s hard to see how they could force it. The markets on Keith and Toews would be limited, and though Kane’s would be larger any interested team would still have to perform a variety of arm-balances to get his cap number in.

The question is why would the Hawks even want to go down that road? You don’t want to have the inmates running the asylum and all that, but rare is the collection of teammates who all have three rings (two in Crow’s case), two Norrises, three Conn Smythes, a Selke, a Hart, a couple Jennings. If there’s any grouping of players that can justify demanding changes to an organization, it’s this one.

Beyond that, what would the Hawks be holding on to? Why would Jeremy Colliton be the coach you’d go to the mat with these players with? He hasn’t developed any player, as no player is any better than they were a year ago. Dylan Strome has been on a wing. Adam Boqvist has been scratched at times and still doesn’t run the top power play unit nor has he shown his puck-carrying abilities. Alex Nylander sucks. Kirby Dach was a fourth-liner for too long. The power play is right up there with touching your face right now. What is the sign that things could improve with this coach down the road?

The answer is of course you wouldn’t. And it’s not like these players have a track record of downing tools or mutinies. Get a coach in here whom they believe in and respect and runs a system that they can see the benefits of, and they will suddenly form the kind of leadership any coach would dream of.

These guys are such loyal servants that I don’t know that stating Colliton and Bowman are going nowhere would cause them to agitate to move elsewhere. It feels out of character for all of them. But it’s clear they’re fed up. And Keith is definitely running out of time, and Toews and Kane can at least see the finish line for the first time. Crawford will have other offers. So if it would ever to happen, it’s going to happen this spring.

What would the Hawks do?

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It all came crashing down on the Hawks this weekend, so who did what as yet another season is meaningless before St. Patrick’s Day, if it ever meant anything at all.

The Dizzying Highs

Corey Crawford – It feels like the Hawks are heading toward some sort of Bay Of Pigs with their veteran players, with at least Keith and Toews completely fed up with their coach. You don’t have to really jump that far on a conclusions mat to see that they might hint to the front office this summer they want this bespectacled doofus out on his ass or they’re going to be showing their thumb out of town as well. The funny thing is that Crawford’s name is never mentioned among “the vets” even though he’s only slightly less decorated than his cohorts. And Crow is the only one who could simply walk. Another week of a .917 makes him the biggest reason the Hawks could even mention the word “playoffs.”

There are certainly other goalies on the market, and Crow will be the oldest of them. Still, what if Crow joins his teammates and says, “I want to come back, I want to come back at a reasonable salary, but I don’t want to play for this guy?” What would the Hawks do? With every strong week, Crow strengthens his leverage.

The Terrifying Lows

Alex Nylander – I’m simply getting tired of putting Jeremy Colliton here, and he’s likely to get his own post later in the day anyway. He had two garbage-time points against Anaheim. And then in three important games, he didn’t do shit. Until the third one, where he gave the puck away in his own zone in the third period, and then was caught puck-watching while Alex Pietrangelo set up shop in the left circle to end that game. Keep in mind, Nylander spent the whole week on a line with Patrick Kane. And Dylan Strome, who seems to have struck up something with Kane since being moved back to center. Do you know how hard it is to go three games with a point with Kane on your line?

In a lot of ways, it’s not Nylander’s fault. He is what he is, and it’s not his fault the Hawks gave up on a useful d-man to bring him here to do nothing (other than get me a Greektown dinner). And the front office is almost certainly cramming him into the lineup to try and make up for the fact that they fucked up by punting Henri Jokiharju for him. I would have liked to see what Dylan Sikura would have done with the same opportunity. But he’s a symptom, or an example, of just how well and truly lost this organization is. Clueless in his own zone, costs too much, and not enough at the other.

As Fifth Feather pointed out in our private thread as the Hawks were spitting up to the Wings, that was a game where your depth should carry you through. A fourth line goal to get things going, or a third line performance because you just have better players there than a shit-assed opponent. Nylander is supposed to be that depth. He’s not. He sucks. And the thinking that brought him here sucks. And that’s why the Hawks lose these games.

The Creamy Middles

Patrick Kane – Four points in four games, but it sounds like he’s warming up to make some demands of his front office too. And he should, because he’s seen three seasons of his prime, and two of his most brilliant seasons, go in the toilet and for nothing. And while he might be as visibly seething as Keith or Toews, somewhat placated by playing 25 minutes a night, he’s already made noise about wanting to talk to the front office after the season and at least see if there is a plan. Kane is the only one who could ask out and probably find a host of suitors, which means he probably draws the most water. If he demands changes, the Hawks would have to listen. And if they choose this coach and GM over him, you’ll know they’re truly lost.