With the calendar soon to turn to April, the NHL lumberingly rounds its corner into the true home stretch, with this Blackhawks season mercifully coming to an end in just 16 more games. As a general rule, the post-deadline undead period for those teams who have stripped the roster for parts such as the Hawks should in theory offer a look at some of the youth that has been toiling in the AHL for 6 months now. But as has been apparently for years now, the Hawks don’t necessarily follow conventional wisdom. The only forward worth giving a shit about, Lukas Reichel, is being artificially held back for contract purposes, as exceeding 9 games in the show will allow his first pro year to slide til next year, and if this team were going to be competitive, it could sort of be understood. But there is a very real chance that we are all also observing the final games of the franchise pillars in Hawks uniforms, and Alex DeBrincat certainly has no reason to stick around beyond next season if they don’t. Add to the fact that none of the defensemen that had ARRIVED last season under Coach Jeremy Bevington can seem to break the lineup here even beyond the trade deadline and with Connor Murphy hurt, and things are beyond desolate. There is literally no reason for Connor Murphy not to be shut down after being knocked out cold, or for pending UFAs Calvin de Haan and Erik Gustafsson to be on the ice anymore, yet the general public is subjected to them on a nightly basis because Derek King and his Sith Master Marc Crawford are laboring under the delusion that they could be brought back for next season. Which is to say that this is an entertaining product and can’t-miss television.

3/28 – vs Buffalo

Game Time: 7:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago+, WGN-AM 720
The Pegulas Are Vile – Die By The Blade

Given the slow-motion Armageddon that has been the past two calendar years and the commensurate scheduling considerations, this will be the Sabres first visit to the UC since 2019. And for them, not much has changed other than sending their malcontent captain Jack Eichel to Vegas for Alex Tuch and some magic beans. To be fair, the Hawks are probably about the same level of bad as they were at that time two, but it’s been a far more eventful and circuitous path getting there. To their credit, LOCAL GUY Don Granato at least has this team playing hard even if they don’t do anything particularly well, and will occasionally jump up and bit a contending team in the dick as they did outdoors against Toronto, or just this past week against both Calgary and Pittsburgh while needing extra time to do so. The Sabres are finally getting something out of the lumbering and unfortunately named Tage Thompson, who originally came over in the Ryan O’Reilly deal and is likely to hit 30 goals while currently sitting on 27. It of course remains to be seen if this is something he can sustain at the NHL level or this is merely a function of SOMEONE having to score on a bad team. Former #1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin is still here and doing well enough to apparently make the all star game, but again, it was mandatory the Sabres be represented. LOCAL GUY Craig Anderson will be 41 in May and somehow he has the most starts for the Sabres at 22 (along with Dustin Tokarksi), and has 12 of the Sabres 23 wins. He played yesterday afternoon against the Rangers so who knows if he’ll get one last hometown start or not, but it’s no guarantee he’ll be done after this year either.  These are two evenly matched bad teams, so it’s likely they pull off an improbably entertaining game this even as has been the case with the Hawks all year, but it means nothing to either team.

3/31 – at Panthers

Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Bienvenidos A Miami – Litter Box Cats

The Cats probably spent the most capital to fortify themselves for a long cup run in acquiring both Ben Chiarot from the Habs (for what reasons is anyone’s guess, he’s never been anything more than A GUY), and landing the prize of the deadline in prying Claude Giroux away from the Cold Ones about 10 seconds after his 1000th game with the club ended. Since the trades they’ve gone 2-1, most recently losing in Tronna to the Leafs 5-2, but beating the woeful Habs and Sens. While obtaining both of Chiarot and Giroux are nice additions to an already potent offense, they do nothing to address the two biggest issues that would preclude a deep Cats run – 1) how healthy is Aaron Ekblad going to be, and 2) will Sergei Bobrovsky shit himself again in the spring or not?

4/1 – at Tampa

Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Feel The Void: Raw Charge

Will Jonathan Toews give Brandon Hagel a tearful, emotional embrace at any point during the game, similar to any of the 45 times Frodo and Sam are reunited throughout the course of the Lord of The Rings? Tune in and find out! Do not tune in to find out if the Blackhawks will win or not, however, because they are not going to.

4/3 – vs Arizona

Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Evicted Dogs: Five For Howling

So the Arizona Coyotes are basically a Ponzi scheme organization who have been evicted from their current arena in Glendale come season’s end and will have to rent time out of Arizona State’s new arena, which seats approximately 4-5K. They have been a Troubled Asset Relief Program for years where teams send millstone contracts of elderly players who are effectively retired but only exist as basically a no show job on their roster, like so many retiree “residents” of the state. They have been willfully trying to lose for years on a minimal payroll in order to maximize the profitability of league revenue sharing and taking advantage of Gary Bettman’s seemingly pathological need to keep this franchise afloat and in Arizona despite every shred of evidence they need to be relocated. As of the time of this writing they have the exact same number of regulation wins (15) as the Chicago Blackhawks, whose previous GM made moves last off season thinking they were going to be in the playoff picture.


The Stanley Cup Final started tonight, but instead of watching it I turned my viewing attention toward the Cubs, as I’m known to do during the summer. I was excited to watch the culmination of the NHL season just a few short days ago, but in light of the articles and events that have come out over the past 48-72 hours, I just found it too sickening to watch.

What’s come out about the Blackhawks recently feels like it couldn’t get any worse, even though the investigation hasn’t even really started yet and it very likely will get worse later on. The handling from top to bottom of this situation could not have been more terrible — no surprise there. But sex offenders and those who commit sexual assault have no place in society, and it’s time people start acting that way.

Gary Bettman was certainly not happy to be answering any questions in his presser earlier today about the investigation, and it didn’t even feel like he adequately prepared, what with his mindless responses about waiting for THE FACTS to come out. What’s waiting a little longer when it’s already been eleven years? Not to mention that it already seems like a lot of what’s coming out has already been corroborated by other players or staff members on that team, including but not limited to Brent Sopel’s tweet, Nick Boynton talking to The Athletic, and Car Bomb announcing he heard about it while playing for the Flyers at the time.

Who specifically is going to get implicated in this? Will there be criminal charges? People will quite certainly lose their jobs, you’d think. If the front office meeting to discuss the allegations and deciding not to go to the police are true, then these people have no place on the Hawks, in the NHL, or in sports, and for everyone’s sake I hope the situation is treated that way and punishments come due.

It’s difficult to read about this as that year and that team were so important to all of us. To have it tarnished in the way it’s being tarnished is horrible for everyone. That season showed a very young me how fun hockey could be to watch, to the point where I came back to watch every year after that and have no plans of stopping. I’m sure there are similar stories out there for all of you.

It’s okay to feel hurt and mad about what happened — how players, and eventually underage children, weren’t protected. It’s okay to mourn, in a way, the team you thought you knew as everyone comes to grips with hockey’s most horrifying reality. At the very least, take solace in the fact that there are journalists like Mark Lazerus, Katie Strang and others who continue to ask the difficult questions nobody in power wants to answer, and that there are fans around the league who are just as angry as you are. Stay angry, stay alert, and stay vigilant about wanting those answers; hopefully this lawsuit can help make the hockey world a better, safer place.

Everything Else

I don’t expect to get much out of Gary Bettman press conferences. His address at the start of the Final is never quite like Roger Goodell’s at the Super Bowl, though he never says anything much ever either. Something about being a commissioner, you just have to be really good at saying nothing. Unless you’re Rob Manfred, and you end up saying the wrong thing a good portion of the time. But hey, better than Bud Selig… I think?


A good portion of Bettman’s presser was about replay, as apparently we’re supposed still be in a rage over Timo Meier’s hand-pass even though the Blues didn’t lose another game that series (like they were supposed to). Bettman hit all the right notes about “balance” and “pace and rhythm” of the game and such. But you know, the more I think about it, the more there is a limit to what you can review and how it might not be something that keeps expanding until infinity. Maybe.

One, I still pretty much think that the challenge system is ridiculous and far inferior to an additional official in a box with a bank of screens communicating with the refs on the ice via headset. However, the challenge system has kind of relegated the offsides review to the hail mary that it usually is. Coaches banking a delay of game penalty on it has kept them from just throwing any challenge out there and losing just a timeout. That really shouldn’t be discounted. As far as losing that timeout of goalie interference, well, one would actually have to define what goalie interference is and they haven’t gotten there yet.

Still, when it comes to goals, what are we really talking about here? Kicked in, goalie interference, crossed the line, high stick (which seemingly never gets called). Right now, that’s it. That doesn’t seem a huge scope of things that adding hand-passes and whether the puck went out of play before a goal would make this a mountain that a bunch of rich people will die on of possible reviews (Topical!). And the puck going out of play could probably mostly be solved with the nets above the glass being white instead of black, as the lighting in most arenas makes a ripple on a black net really hard to see but much easier on a white one.

That seems possible. Restrict it to hand-passes in the offensive zone and let’s go. All goals are reviewed anyway, we’ve already gotten accustomed to that. I still don’t know why all sports haven’t employed a 30-second limit on reviews (well, I know why the NFL did because they figured out they could cram in another ad or two). If I can tell on my couch after a look or two if something is clear or not, so can they.

As far as reviewing delay of game calls or shots to the head…again, a 30-second clock or simply a video ref radioing down without the need of the refs to go to a phone would solve a lot of this. Yes, NHL arenas can’t get loud but if European soccer refs can manage, so can NHL ones. But that would depend on how seriously the NHL wants to crack down on hits to the head.

I also still contend that moving one ref or both off the ice and to a perch above the glass would solve a lot, as they would spend no time protecting their face or trying to get out of the way of play and could actually watch the action full-time. But I’m not going to sit on a hot stove waiting for that one.

-Bettman also addressed the CBA, which is looming. I’ll give him that he doesn’t pin peace on the NHLPA exclusively, while still firing an opening salvo, saying that both sides have things they’d probably like to change but overall everyone is doing well.

For the most part, you’d have to say both sides are doing well. The owners have the 50-50 split they’ve craved. and players at the top of the chain are getting theirs. Young players, except for the truly elite, are still eating it, but that’s more a fight between players before it even gets to the owners.

So a couple simple things I would want the players to try and get without a lockout, as if there’s any hope of avoiding that. One is an NBA-style mid-level exception or two. It’s vets that are getting squeezed out by teams only concentrating on top end talent and then young, cheap talent. We see a raft of players on PTOs come training camp that really should have contracts. Something like $3-$4 million, or two $3M slots, for players that are over 27 or have seven years in the league or thereabouts.

Second, get rid of the cap recapture penalty. It was a stupid idea in the first place that I can’t believe the union went along with, and punished teams and players for what they did under a different system. It’ll open up flexibility for some teams, and end this ridiculous saga of players having to be on LTIR for four years or whatever that is just silly. Those are two things I would want, which wouldn’t break any owners.

Of course, the owners, if they were ever to agree to any of this, would want something in return. But fuck ’em. They’ve got enough.

Everything Else

With most vacations, the vacation itself is a thousand times more stressful and frustrating than whatever it was you were trying to get away from. This bye week is no different.

As Rose covered yesterday, the Hawks announced that Corey Crawford had vertigo-like symptoms. Then, later on yesterday, Scotty Bowman went on (BIG VOICE GUY) BOB MCCOWN’S PRIME TIME SPORTS hullabaloo and said, with nary a quiver in his voice, that Crawford was really suffering from post-concussion symptoms (2:02:30 in the clip). Later that day, Lazerus reported that Scotty was “guessing” and not sharing insider information.

This, of course, is Grade A fucking NARRATIVE horseshit (on the organ-I-zaton, not Lazerus).

The Blackhawks have a long and infamous history with deflecting and mismanaging concussions.

Recall that legit 17-seconds legend and meatball superhero Dave Bolland faced schoolyard giggles, and pointing and laughing at how long it took him to recover from his concussion back in 2011, all the while dealing with depression, that common ghoul that tends to walk hand in hand with brain injuries.

Recall that one of the reasons Jeremy Morin got shipped out the first time was because he took too long for everyone’s liking coming back from a concussion in 2012. And before he got shipped out, he fought everything in sight to show Q the MORE that the Hawks’s brass always complained wasn’t there. If there’s a better way to proactively protect a player with a history of brain injuries than having him get punched in the face over and over to prove that he’s willing and able to flex nuts, I’d like to hear it.

Recall that in 2014, after Toews got splattered on the boards by Dennis Seidenberg—subsequently grabbing his head and skating with the grace of a drunk with puke in his shoes—neither Quenneville nor the Hawks’s training staff had the foresight to take him off the ice immediately, instead opting to let him finish off a power play. This came after 2012, when Toews played several games with a concussion before getting shut down.

Recall that Steve Montador’s family still has a lawsuit pending against the league that alleges, among other things, that Montador received four concussions over three months with the Blackhawks.

The vagueness and silence always evolves in the same way, from “upper body injury” to “dealing with some soreness” to “we’ll see.” Then, when it becomes more apparent that someone’s going to be out for an extended time, upper body turns into dizziness or, in Crow’s case, vertigo. That way, when the diagnosis the brain trust refused to admit all along becomes the diagnosis they’re forced to admit, they can throw up their hands and say, “Whoa, we just thought it was something less serious. Honest!” And when you’re named in a lawsuit that claims that your team put Montador in a position to have not just one, but FOUR concussions in just three months, contributing to his CTE and death, feigning ignorance is really all you have left.

And King Dickhead Gary Bettman—who gives mid 90s Hunter Hearst Helmsley a run for his weaselly heel money—plays a role in how teams handle concussions. Let’s not forget that the NHL is still embroiled in a lawsuit that alleges that the league failed to ensure the safety of players’ brains, letting them play through concussions and other head injuries with full knowledge of what that could lead to and without telling them.

As the face of ownership, Bettman ought to have to answer for the defense calling players participating in the lawsuit “mere puppets” on a “cash grab” (which, probably not coincidentally, echoes a common defense we heard surrounding Doughty and Garbage Dick in the past).

He should be able to offer at least some sort of explanation for why the NHL still refuses to acknowledge the link between CTE and head trauma.

If you want to go to John Galtian levels of selfishness, Bettman should have to answer for why the owners he represents are so willing to mishandle their assets to the league’s detriment, letting star players on popular teams that line the league’s coffers suffer long-term injuries, vicariously damaging the league’s bottom line in the process.

Instead, we get radio silence, and status quo reigns.

But back here, given the Blackhawks’s experience with concussions, at what point do Quenneville and Bowman say enough? It may not be their job to diagnose brain injuries, but it IS their job to, in the most heartless terms, protect their assets. Is this middling season of what-ifs and maybes really worth the long-term health of the best goaltender the Hawks have had since Belfour? Apparently, because they brought him back off a concussion awfully fast, yet again.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that any athlete in Chicago sports history ever got Dangerfielded more often than Crow, from fans and franchise alike. He doesn’t deserve any of this, as both a player and a person.

So here we sit, having to wonder what the fuck is going on with the Hawks’s best player amid innuendo from the team and silence from the league. And because we can only guess at what happened, that’s what I’m going to do.

Since Evgeni “My Face Looks How My Name Sounds” Malkin railroaded Crawford in November, Crawford’s been dealing with a concussion. Because the front office and coaching staff are either too stupid to know or too callous to care, they sent Crawford back out too early in an attempt to salvage points they desperately needed for the deep playoff run they envisioned to wash the taste of two quick exits out of their mouths.

When Crawford’s performances betrayed his health against Dallas and New Jersey in December, the Hawks took advantage, using them as cover to justify taking him out for undisclosed reasons. The undisclosed reason, of course, was a concussion that Crawford should not have been playing through.

With vocal skepticism mounting, the organ-I-zation dripped rumors about vertigo, which is close enough to a concussion to feign ignorance, be believable, and take some of the liability off the team’s latest botch. Then, when people expressed outrage at the possibility that the Hawks knowingly trotted Crawford out too soon, Stan Bowman called his father to take the bullet and indirectly admit that Crawford indeed did have a concussion (or post-concussion symptoms), because he knew it would bounce off the venerable and untouchable Scotty much more easily than it would Stan, given his office’s egregiously bad history with concussions.

Finally, Scotty’s walk back was the little injection of controlled confusion the organ-I-zation needed to have everyone following the drama throw up their hands and say “Oh, who knows?!” Lather, rinse, repeat.

The excuses for Crawford’s absence smell an awful lot like organ-I-zational horseshit. But when the guys running the team and the league have shown time and again that they can be gigantic asses about handling head injuries, should we expect anything else?

Everything Else

Around these parts, an opportunity to shit all over anything the league, or particularly Gary Bettman, says or does for regarding anything surrounding the overall trajectory or vision of the NHL at a large is rarely missed. And though there was a great deal of public “outrage” over his words when he stated “assume we’re not going” as the NHL’s participation pertains to the 2018 PyeongChang South Korean Winter Olympics, this is ultimately the right decision for the league.

Everything Else

Another banner day in great Hawkdom and hockey in general. It’s gone beyond comedic to the surreal at this point. A listless, 5th straight loss to the decidedly in-the-middle Wild, the Hawks most important player looking at some sort of suspension, an organization continuing to act in a most callous, cowardly fashion, and a league that if it were any more balloon-handed would be able to carry the dude’s house from UP to Jupiter and back. Let’s see if we can’t get through it all without opening wounds on our collective faces.

-Let’s start with Duncan Keith. While his elbow on Shooty Twin from 2012 and his high-stick can’t actually be considered in whatever discipline is coming his way, past displays of behavior can, which essentially is the same fucking thing. I suppose the technicalities would come up in any sort of appeal, which I’m fairly sure is going to come up.

Everything Else

For those of you that joined the blog recently, during the summer on Friday’s is when I tend to just write about whatever I want, as do the others on the blog. Feather even went through a streak of reviewing video games and The Walking Dead. So prepare yourself, as I’ve got all sorts of things rattling around this bald dome of mine.

-As the Hawks sit between several rocks and a very hard place with the cap constraints, the past couple days I can’t help but cast my mind back just short of three years ago. That would be Bettman Lockout III. Or maybe even Bettman Lockout II, which got us this current system. During that lockout, most owners were under a gag order. We never got what Rocky was really thinking during all of it, and whenever he did talk he was on the party line, out of fear of massive fines from The Commish.

And owners do that during labor disputes, but those labor disputes, at least these days, aren’t really about owners vs. players. They’re owners vs. owners, and the owners take it out on the players to protect themselves from each other and themselves. They know that when back to normal business, they’re going to do everything they can to put a winning team out there and all those loopholes get closed in the next CBA.