Right smack dab in the middle of the Holidays right as Chanukah came to an end and as the Christmas Express barrels towards the 25th, the NHL and the NHLPA have somehow managed to put aside their usual Mutually-Assured-Destruction-caliber negotiating tactics to put a little something under the tree and into the stockings of hockey fans in the form of an accord over the 2021 season, whether anyone involved deserves it or not.

The actual nuts and bolts details of the season have been reported by all the outlets one would go other than here for actual news, but the scaffolding for the season ended up being what was long reported – four somewhat geographically coherent divisions, with all the Canadian teams forming one of them due to “differing” (read: “better” or “coherent”) policies compared to the good old US of A, playing 56 games wholly within said division, and the top 4 from each division making a divisional playoff. So teams will be playing the same 6 or 7 other teams over and over and over again until the end of May, basically, when those four teams are at for now supposed to be re-seeded at the semifinal/Final Four round. So the Hawks will be playing the Jackets, Red Wings, Preds, Stars, Hurricanes, Panthers, and defending champion Lightning for the entirety of this season.

As far as what this means for The Men of Four Feathers, this is a fairly shit draw as far as the limited number of teams they’re going to be up against night in and night out. Having both of this past year’s Cup finalists in their division isn’t a good thing for their chances, regardless of whatever one’s opinion on Dallas trapping their way out of the west yielded last year. But on the other hand, it’s probably better to face them than the Avs, who have been punted out West and will get to turn whatever is in California to plasma. Either way, the Hawks are likely looking at another lottery pick out of this barring some Loki-with-the-Reality-Stone type horseshit. But hey, all teams are required to have three goalies on hand at all times home and road, so Stan’s brilliant gambit of letting Crawford walk for the platoon of Collin Delia, Malcolm Subban, and Kevin Lankinen looks like some four dimensional chess right now, doesn’t it?

Ultimately, however, this is probably about the best way that it can be done to minimize international travel, and to allow for the possibility of collapsing things down into a bubble site or two per division if necessary should the virus run even more wild than it is right now while most places don’t give a shit. The structure of the playoffs allows for the potential of the actual two best teams in the league to play for the Cup at the end, regardless of their traditional conference alignment, and that can only be a good thing, provided the season gets that far. And in another fun victory for the PA over the owners, salaries are not pro rated this year, every player will receive their full compensation over 56 games instead of 82. And because of that, the daily cap calculations can allow for more banked cap space to accrue for the few teams that are under it, which could lead to a truly bonkers trade deadline.

As of right now, the season is slated to begin January 13th, though no official schedule has been released. This is of course due to a) the Canadian government not fully signing off on this even after setting the precedent of kicking the Raptors out of the country (great optics, there), and b) with so many NHL teams sharing facilities with NBA clubs who only have half of their schedule right now, there will likely be some conflicts with dual purpose buildings such as Club 1901. So that means it’s only about 3 weeks from when the Hawks will toss Brent Seabrook out there opening night with a straight face after two hip surgeries and not playing against anyone for 18 months, with no exhibition games and only 10 days of training camp, which is slated to open January 3rd. But don’t worry, Coach Jeremy Prinze Jr.’s third time holding Magic Training Camp is sure to be the charm.




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.


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.


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.


While this country has in no way earned the right to begin discussing the resumption of team professional sports in the way that South Korea has with baseball, or Germany has with Bundesliga soccer given the ghastly disparity in how the pandemic has been handled in the those places versus the United States, the NHL at least got out in front of any of the other team sports by formally announcing how the playoffs and draft are going to work. It’s quite dense, but it’s hockey so it can’t be THAT convoluted.


Now to the big takeaways from the announcement:

  • The 2019-2020 regular sseason is officially over, and as such, the top 12 teams via points percentage in each conference are now in this tournament, meaning…..your Chicago Blackhawks have once again qualified for the playoffs, if only by the hair on their ass as the 12 seed in the west.
  • The divisional playoff model has been abandoned, and top four seeds will play a round robin to determine their playoff seeding with regular season rules OT rules, concurrent with the remaining bottom 8 teams playing best of 5 series for the right to advance to one of the top four. Bettman notes in the announcement that it has not been determined yet if the first two rounds will re-seed or follow a static bracket, not to mention that the NHL managed to make overtime even more of a clown show by having two different flavors of it conceivably being played on the same day in the early goings. Even at its most competent, there is no circumstance under which the NHL can’t manage to look like dipshits.
  • That being said, the Hawks are now locked into a best of 5 series with the Edmonton Oilers when and if play takes place. So that means a matchup in a series against the league’s top two scorers in McDavid and now-Ross winner Leon The Ladies’ Man with a defense that had no structure to begin with, and in general when teams break camp raw skill tends to win against systems. But there’s always the chance that there could be revenge of known method actor Mike Smith. Stranger things have happened.
  • Also of local interest is that Chicago is mentioned as one of the potential hub cities, presumably for the Western conference, given the amount of hotels and rinks that are available in the area (the UC, RoseMizon, Sears). Given that there would be multiple games a day concurrently at least in the first two rounds, the time zone issue for starting games past 8:00PM locally here probably wouldn’t loom too large, but it should be considered. Of course, this is operating under the presumption that the city and suburbs have the COVID situation under control, which they absolutely do not right now. But this is the sort of thing the city and state usually trips all over their dicks to incentivize for big business at the expense of common citizens, and during the pandemic things have been no different.
  • Bettman made basically zero mention of the medical safety protocols that are going to be enacted during this, such as full cages/facemasks, celebrations, bench spacing, shared towels, water bottles, dressing room procedures, or any number of other things that need to be figured out and will almost certainly be disregarded by players immediately because they’re by and large minimally educated self-declared Sovereign Citizens. He did mention “extensive testing”, which seems like an absolute bare minimum, and limiting traveling parties to cities to a total of 50 people per team, so after 23 players and 3-4 coaches, teams are going to have to be judicious on their staff selections. And taxi squads (since the AHL season is DONE-done) will likely have to be kept remotely.
  • With regard to the draft, it’s even more convoluted. Basically, they’re going to hold an initial lottery at the end of June, and then if any team that is going to resume play jumps in order, or “wins” the first round lottery, there will be a second re-draw after the conclusion of the round-robin, best of 5 round.

It was made clear numerous times during the video that none of this is etched in stone and the situation is completely fluid from a lot of different angles. Bettman gave July 1 as the absolute earliest camps could open if everything broke right, but didn’t specify if those would be in hub cities or home cities. There’s still time for all of this to go completely balls up again as states start to re open and cases are likely to spike again after the incubation period. But it’s a start, and now the Hawks can say that Jeremy Colliton got this rag tag group into the playoffs and justify keeping him around until the NEXT pandemic.

Everything Else Hockey Live From The Five Hole

We’re back once again in the midst of the lockdown with a very special Director’s Cut episode featuring friend Ashok Selvam (@Shokdiesel) of Eater Chicago to join us to discuss the talk of the sports universe right now in The Last Dance, as well as share his expertise in the brave new world that the restaurant industry and how best everyone can keep their favorite spots afloat. It’s a fun one, give a listen on any of the several hundred platforms we’re on. What the hell else are you doing anyway?