The Hawks continue to be physically incapable of not stepping in it, both on the ice and off. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7, essentially no-showing it against both the Canucks and Wild this week, finding themselves ahead of only the Coyotes in the Central Division—and it would be a stretch to even call Arizona a pro hockey team, if we’re being honest.

And yet, the actual news surrounding this team as of late was Rocky’s outburst at the town hall press conference before Wednesday’s game against the Wild, which cemented him to Moron status for life on this fair website. I genuinely have no idea what the fuck Rocky thought was going to be asked in the organ-I-zation’s first press conference since the Kyle Beach story permanently changed the landscape of this team and the NHL as a whole? I also have no idea why the fuck he didn’t have a prepared statement, even to just read it halfheartedly off a teleprompter like he did to begin the presser? Really, all he had to do was say nothing, because the first question wasn’t even directed at him. You’d think that would be something he’d be good at doing, considering what went down with his players and coach under his leadership. Maybe he’s just mad that all his pals in the old guard got justifiably canned?

No matter what his intentions, his reaction and his half-assed press release apology means the Hawks continue to be the center of the NHL’s biggest shitstorm, as more and more Hawks fans seem to be leaving the team for good. It shows that Rocky hasn’t learned, and that Rocky likely doesn’t care about learning. And as long as Rocky is at the helm, I won’t be handing over any more money to this team.

As much as the on-ice product continues to pale in comparison to what’s happening off the ice, this is usually the week’s wrap, and games were indeed played, though if you missed them you’d be in the majority. And it seems like the players on the ice have a similar “I-don’t-give-a-shit” attitude, getting outscored 8-1 this week. The only player who seemed to show any emotion was Marc-Andre Fleury every time he gave up a goal. Which happened often. No thanks to the defense, which seemed flat-footed and lethargic for most of this week.

Kirby Dach was nothing special these games either, going -4 for the week with of course no points and really thriving in his New and Improved role as Checking Center on this team by getting consistently steamrolled by Canucks Monday night, as checking centers do. Look, the poor kid wasn’t in control of where he got drafted, but dear God, letting him believe that he isn’t a goal scorer cannot possibly be the answer. His confidence is obviously shot, and since this team seems to have no success developing scorers of any kind, who knows if the answer even lies here?

It’s all such an epic clusterfuck, in every sense of the word, that I am genuinely not sure where we go from here. We have one sure-fire prospect in the entire organization. And that prospect is likely ready for the NHL, but the Hawks are keeping him down in Rockford, probably so they don’t have to say they have zero sure-fire prospects in the entire organization. Derek King is the interim coach, but Marc Crawford is the real Man Behind the Curtain with an abusive history himself. Oh, and maybe Peter Chiarelli will be the next Blackhawks GM, because if you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they always can. The Hawks are attempting to rebuild the team in all facets, but how do they expect to do it when no player, GM or coach in his right mind would sign here after everything that’s gone on over the last year?

The All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time—I think just about every Hawks fan needs a break right about now. We’ll be back next week, perhaps with the regularly scheduled programming.


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.


Well now.

Despite the silent scream of COVID-19 keeping us all locked up, pissed off, and stir crazy, Rocky Wirtz made a stunning albeit welcome-around-these-parts move in firing longtime President and professional autofellatio guru John McDonough today.

First, the good. McDonough was here for 13 years. He ushered in an era where Blackhawks fans could not only watch hockey on the goddamn television in 2007 but also enjoy it. After squeezing as much blood out of the Loveable Loser stone as he could for the North Side Nine, he oversaw a renaissance of Chicago hockey.

Nine straight playoff appearances. Five Conference Finals appearances. Three Stanley Cups. And whether you like it or not, he had a hand in making the game an experience that 20,000+ could enjoy night in and night out. But we won’t go too far into that, because we’re sure if you hold your ear close enough to the ground, you can hear McDonough himself pucker up to kiss his own ass about it.

For all the good McDonough bestowed upon this team during his tenure, it’ll always be hard, if not impossible, to forgive the 2015 Notre Dame debacle. Of all the contributions we at FFUD will remember him for the most, it’s his vile effort to turn a horrifying rape allegation against his star player into a fucking marketing push.

You might remember him calling the Hawks’s three Cups in six years a “Camelot” era for the Hawks. In the same place where he and his spineless GM tucked tail and ran when pressed on what they would do with their alleged rapist of a star. For a guy who has a gas mask connected to his asshole 24/7 when it comes to talking about what a great marketing campaign looks like, he couldn’t have dreamed of a better way to fuck the optics of that one up. Then again, perhaps in true Galaxy Brain form, he just knew that the troglodytes would bury any earnest concern in the name of winning.

But that was always McDonough’s MO when it came to doing things that didn’t involve sucking his own farts: When in doubt, run, deny, or reroute.

When Andrew Shaw got caught using a homophobic slur, it was the NHL, not McDonough et al., who punished him. McDonough was nowhere to be found during the Garret Ross revenge porn disaster. When something other than the sellout streak came up—something that would have required a semblance of sac or true, honest to God leadership—you better believe McDonough had something else better to do.

And though you can’t discount how much more visible he made the team, it would have been challenging for anyone not named Bill Wirtz to not succeed in the spot McDonough fell into. Putting an up-and-coming hockey team on television and then marketing it even a little bit does not require the genius that John McDonough wants you to believe it does, unless your opening act is the Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford “Wet bag of human shit covered in burnt hair” routine.

McDonough certainly wasn’t the worst Hockey Man, but he certainly wasn’t the best either. He came on at a time where all he had to do was ride the wave and capitalize. The foundation of hope had been laid with Toews and Kane. All he had to do was sell it, which wasn’t terribly hard after the organ-I-zation spent the better part of a decade literally hiding the team under a rock (although in the late 90s and early 00s, you sort of get it).

If you want to give him credit for building this team, you should also place blame for where it is now. A team that’s grown fat on its throne with little urgency to do anything outside of chastise a fanbase with its eyesore of a scoreboard and no effort to make this team faster and better. Recall that in the last two years, Dennis Gilbert, Brandon Manning, Nick Seeler, John Hayden, and Chris Kunitz all played meaningful minutes for a team that McDonough himself wanted you to believe was a playoff team.

He will go down in the Hawks annals as a legend, despite the fact that we still aren’t sure what he’d say he did here that was revolutionary or forward thinking. Fortunately, we no longer have to figure it out.

What this means for the future is anyone’s guess, especially since Rocky went out of his way to assure everyone that Bowman and Colliton are his guys. Then again, now that McDonough is gone, so too could those two. If we had to guess, we’d say that Stan Bowman pulls a Shel Silverstein while Rocky goes out and looks for a GM whose greatest asset isn’t his consistent ability to look like he’s holding in hard gas.

What it DOES mean is that someone up there is seeing the shit we’ve been seeing down here and finally said “enough.” You can’t imagine that Daniel Wirtz, Rocky’s little brother (or son, whichever), will be anything other than an interim President.

It took a literal act of God to get us to this point, with Rocky saying that COVID-19 gave him some time to reassess the team’s direction. But given the suddenness of the firing, you shouldn’t be surprised if something unsavory slithers out of the front office as cause for the firing.

Better late than never.


Though it looks less likely that we’ll get more hockey this year with each passing day, that doesn’t mean the Hawks aren’t not doing anything. Here’s a weekend update about the goings on with the Men of Four Feathers.

– In an interview with Scott Powers, Rocky Wirtz said that there will be no front office changes in the near future. That means all your favorite stars like John McDonough, Stan Bowman, and Jeremy “Please Stop Saying I’m the Worst Coach in the League” Colliton are sitting pretty on the velvet couch of the Blackhawks Brain Trust, where you can suck for three years and still make bank.

With this decision, Rocky Wirtz has finally given us a morsel of what the plan is. And that plan is to continue being an abysmal defensive team coached by a stubborn putz whose system clearly doesn’t work with the guys he’s got, and generally managed (though we use this term in its loosest form) by a man whose solution to his bad defense was to make it slower and ouchie-er.

If we needed proof that Rocky doesn’t watch the games at all, this:

“Well, if I wasn’t confident, they wouldn’t be employed,” Wirtz said. “Yeah, I’m very confident. Like I said, we had a good run, but that doesn’t mean when you’re drafting 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th … You know it’s a young person’s game. You have to put work in there. Stan, right or wrong, after ’10, ’13 and ’15, you essentially had to trade half your team away. Yeah could we have been a dynasty if it was back in the Edmonton days? Of course. The 2010 team could have been around for a long time. But with the salary cap, you couldn’t do that. It is what it is. You got to work within the system.”

There you have it. In what’s becoming a theme around these parts, the Blackhawks brass is reaching back to the greatest hits to justify things they’re doing five years after the fact. If the whole point is “You got to work within the system,” what’s inspired confidence that Bowman’s been doing that effectively? Was it the Brandon Manning signing two years ago? Was it trading Jokiharju for Nylander the Lesser last summer? Was it signing Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan who suck and have no shoulders, respectively, last summer? We know Bowman had to rip those championship teams apart. We were there. What does that have to do with what he’s done lately?

Rocky’s got some thoughts on that too, buddy.

“I’m very optimistic on some of the young players,” Wirtz said. “It’s the system we have in place to draft and then develop players I think is good. I think that’s what you’ll see. If the system’s right, then we’re going to be OK. I think that’s the key thing. So, I’m optimistic. I don’t do doom and gloom and stuff.”

The system they have in place is good and maybe right, he says. The same system that hasn’t produced a worthwhile defenseman since Nick Leddy. The same system that can’t find a spot for Dylan Sikura but has all the time in the world for Matt Highmore and Brandon Hagel. Kirby Dach has been a hit so far, yes. As has Top Cat. But who do they have down there who’s going to change anything who isn’t already here?

It’s one thing to be optimistic. It’s entirely another to be totally removed from what’s going on. But really, why should Rocky worry? People were still showing up in droves, after all. And what’s more important than packing the house and filling the coffers? Certainly not changing a system that clearly doesn’t work. Why do that when you can just not?

Rocky goes on to talk about players from Europe, such as Artemi Panarin and Dominik Kubalik, and he’s not wrong. The Hawks’s European scouting is outstanding. But to assume that guys like that will still just want to come play for the Blackhawks is dangerous and presumptive. It’s been three years since their last playoff appearance. Riding “We’re the Blackhawks” won’t have the same pull soon enough, especially with the most recent track record.

The last two years have brought us historically bad defense from the Blackhawks. It took them half a year to get Dominik Kubalik—now their second-leading goal scorer—out of the bottom six. Before Boqvist’s injuries and the season suspension, they were leashing the one kid who could drive play from the back end for . . . what? To improve his defense? You don’t get to say you care about defensive development when you’re icing Nick Seeler, Slater Koekkoek, and Dennis Gilbert at any time for any reason with a straight face.

But hey, at least now we know what the plan is. Just kind of hope shit works out. Rocky likes his guys. You wonder what Kane, Toews, Keith, and Crow think about that.

­– But it’s not all bad news with the organ-I-zation. Credit to Rocky (and Jerry Reinsdorf) for agreeing to pay all United Center game-day employees through what would have been the end of the regular season.

It would have been more of a surprise if the organ-I-zation hadn’t done so. If you’re cynical, maybe you look at this simply as good PR. If you’re optimistic, you see this as them simply doing the right thing. We’ll choose to be optimistic on this one.

On top of that, the Hawks committed to matching donations of up to $100,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. Both very good things to do, and both things that take the sting out of Rocky’s “We like our guys” oafery.

That’s it for now. Stay safe, stay isolated, and keep watching the skis.

Everything Else

Note: Yes, I realize I’m mixing my Screaming Trees references but just go with me on this, friend. 

Babies, I like to pretend I know everything. Or at least enough where I can convince you I know what’s up with the Hawks. But I have to say the last few days have left me as bewildered as when they started. My thoughts, and others, were summed up in the podcast (which hey, you can get right here!), but I want to expound on them a touch more.

As I said on that ‘cast (I can abbreviate it cuz I’m cool, yo), I like the trade even though I either don’t approve of the process that got them there, and that’s if I can even discern what that process was. So, much like Patron Saint Inigo Montoya, let’s go back to the beginning.

Let’s start with Stan Bowman’s quote to The Athletic’s Scott Powers during an interview in Florida from last week about the signings of Brandon Manning and Chris Kunitz:

“Part of your job as a manager is to try to work with your coach to try to give them players that can implement the way they want to play,” Bowman said. “So I think we did a good job of that over the years with Joel. When it was obvious players didn’t fit the way even though they were quote-unquote good players, if they weren’t going to work for us, we didn’t just sit on them. We would move them and try to find somebody.

“It’s sort of the same thing. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but they were players that had attributes that Joel thought was important for our team and was lacking. So we have a new coach now, trying to fit in their strengths, but also changing to play in a little bit different way. So it’s hard to make a full assessment on that. I’ll have to see how it all plays out in the next several months. Hopefully they can find a way to contribute with Jeremy as well.”

Let’s start before this. Now, this has only been a working theory of ours for a couple seasons now, but I feel it’s a strong one. And one we can probably back up if we need to, and we went over on the ‘cast (so cool). After the sweep by the Predators in ’17, it was pretty clear that Stan Bowman went to his superiors and told them if they wanted to extend the window of this team, or at least keep it relevant, he needed to have complete control of personnel decisions. It had to be his show. It wasn’t totally his before, and the push-and-pull between him and Q and Q’s soldiers in the front office is well documented.

We know, or have a strong suspicion at least, that Bowman got all of the reins because he booted two of Q’s favorites immediately in Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin. Make no mistake, it was Q’s not-total belief in Bradon Saad, and his allies in the front office, that got Saad traded the first time. The fact that Stan didn’t tell Q about these trades beforehand, and Q made a show of telling the media that, gives you some idea of what the new dynamic was. You could argue it was at this point that Q just checked out of the job mentally, which is definitely the story some of the Hawks players were pushing after the firing.

So let’s add to that it was pretty clear that Stan wanted to fire Q before this season even started. And that Jeremy Colliton was his guy. I think we know this because if you’re pulling that trigger after 15 games, and I’ve said this before, all you’re allowing the incumbent is the chance for EVERYTHING to go perfectly. It didn’t.

So let’s circle back to this quote. And it’s essentially, maybe only partially, Stan throwing the coach he didn’t want to work with anymore under whatever bus was closest. “Well, I signed these guys because they were the types I hated but Joel liked and look what that got us! See why I had to do what I did!”

But if you believe all this, and maybe you don’t, what essentially happened is Stan took some cap space to assuage a coach he didn’t want with players who didn’t really have any hope, but now the coach he did want is stuck with them. And the coach he did want doesn’t have the time to really implement the changes both of them would like to make, nor with a roster either is suited for.

And if you carry this out farther, rightly or wrongly, you get to some uncomfortable questions about Schmatlz’s untouchable status over the summer. Because Elliotte Friedman reported the Canes asked about him in talks over Justin Faulk. Did Stan say no because he really thought Schmaltz was a cornerstone? An opinion he lost just 25 games in? Or did he not make a move for Faulk unless it was complete theft because he thought, gasp, a player like that might improve the Hawks just enough that he couldn’t fire Quenneville? There’s no way to make that connection firmly, but can you totally dismiss it?

Looking forward, I don’t know what Jeremy Colliton is or will be. I will say I like the outside-the-box hire, because a major problem in hockey is the constant retreading at both coach and GM positions everywhere. Everything you hear from people in the know say that Colliton has a chance to be a really good coach.

But he doesn’t have much to work with, certainly on the blue line. He has entrenched veterans who can’t, or won’t, change their game to adjust for what they are. Or he has overmatched players. And one promising rookie who has to cover for above.

We know Colliton is Stan’s guy, because he got a multi-year deal. And I’m at least curious to see what Colliton could do with a real roster. Just curious. And maybe Stan thinks he’s going to be around for all of it.

But here’s the thing. Rocky and McD can bluster all they want about “remodels” and “believing in our guys” all they want. But let’s say December goes completely balls-up, and it so easily could. And the Hawks are done by The Winter Classic, 5-7 games under .500 and on a national stage where all their faults will be laid out for everyone to see.

And then in the spring, those season ticket renewals start not showing up. Or being declined, I guess. And they have to dig in deeper and deeper to that waiting list they used to love to tell you about. And more and more on that waiting list say either, “No thanks,” or “Who are you again?”

There isn’t anything else that would get Rocky and McD’s attention. They would notice that in a heartbeat. And that’s when trigger fingers get itchy (when McD is done bullying his lower level employees of course, because GENIUS). And then the Hawks bring in some crusty hockey man because it’s a name some fans might recognize and that’s the length of the research the Twin Towers Of Born On Third Organizational Method do. And he wants another crusty hockey man behind the bench.

And then it’s totally fucked, and Collition never gets a chance with the blue line that’s kind of been hand-picked for what we think his style will be.

I know I’ve mapped this out like the detective in V For Vendetta, so let’s eschew everything in the future for now.

What I can’t get past is a GM seemingly sandbagging his coach with players who suck to illustrate what the problems with that coach were. And another thing I can’t get past is that if Stan can’t help talking up Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin, then maybe it would have helped everyone to say what this year was instead of blathering about winning and playoffs. Because it’s more and more obvious next year is what they were targeting anyway (and quick, show me the last playoff team with at least two rookie d-men logging heavy minutes).

Would the fanbase have been more accepting of being honestly told what was going on? Maybe or maybe not. But it would be better than this.

Everything Else

It’s that time again! The last happening on the hockey calendar before we head into the summer doldrums and awake for training camp. It’s in the no way at all kitchy, greedy, utterly creepy Blackhawks Convention! We don’t want you going in there blind, so let us provide a guide for all the goings-on this weekend:


5pm Opening Ceremonies

Every year I hope this is the one where Eddie Olczyk’s hair just gets up, lights a cigarette, and walks off for good. Maybe this is the one. Anyway, watch Eddie try and be overly dramatic for every introduction while they players sweat their balls off behind the curtain being forced to wear the jerseys on a summer day in an overstuffed ballroom. All for the privilege to come out and wade through the teeming masses that they assuredly don’t want to touch but have to (a curious role reversal for Garbage Dick). You have to love that this is called “Opening Ceremonies” for not a sporting event but one meant to drive cash while a bunch of people stand around.

8pm – The Second City

Oh good, time for my yearly rant on why Second City (and IO) are trash outfits. No matter how talentless you are, Second City will run you up the ladder of classes and shows as long as you keep paying. For every Tina Fey or Steve Carrell they produce, there’s a 100 people less funny than the dude in the break room at work you’ve fantasized about taking a scythe too. And a good portion of them will be at this natural disaster, trying to prod stiff and bewildered hockey players through an improv sketch. Oh, and are you surprised Adam Burish is part of this? If Burish couldn’t skate he definitely would have been an IO regular 15 years ago.


9am – The Breakaway

Oh man,  if you thought you had enough of Rocky and McD blowing themselves, just you wait, fucko! There’s a goddamn book! They’ll be pushing this “Inside Story of The Wirtz Family Business and The Chicago Blackhawks,” as if there was anymore to it than being born on third, manipulating local laws and taxes to shelter your liquor and real estate business, and falling ass-backwards into a ready-made Cup contender because your father just happened to kick it at that moment. Cunning strategy, really.

10am – Hockey Operations

We might not get the Bowman, MacIsaac, MacIver, and Bernard fatal four-way when we finally find out who was responsible for the Trevor Daley idea, but it wouldn’t matter because McD is going to wander in halfway through this and declare himself the winner and take all the questions.

10:45 – Goal Scorers

Oh sweet lord. A vapid, Trump-supporting, Kid Rock-loving loudmouth in Jeremy Roenick and Patrick Kane together. This is sure to attract the highest quality person.

11:45 – President’s Forum

Oh you thought “The Breakaway” would be all the self-fellating from the top? Guess again, shitbag! McDonough gets one forum all to himself, hopefully taking time out from bullying his employees but no guarantees, to tell you what a great job he’s done in the past 11 years. If anyone asks a tough question, please ignore him shitting himself. He’s a genius, don’t you know?

12:30 – Blackhawks Family Feud

This is hell.

1:15 – Kids Only

A search for the next Joey The Junior Reporter, because Joey has now discovered drugs, poetry, and girls with purple hair. He’s burned all of his Hawks memorabilia.

2:00 – Blackhawks Match Game

Believe me, the Hawks players have been playing “match game” in their heads since this thing fucking started.

2:45 – Blueliners

Chris Chelios and Duncan Keith are there to tell you what it’s like to slash a player in the face. Chelios wins because he got Paul Kariya whereas Keith wasted his moment of madness merely on Charlie Coyle.

3:45 – From Beer League To Big League

“Hey! Remember when the Hawks had a lost season because their front office forgot to assemble a blue line or get a better center than Anisimov or their coach didn’t want to play any of their young players and they had no plan if Crawford got hurt and their television ratings went into the toilet and the building wasn’t full anymore?

“Oh you do? Hmm…crap.”

“But Scott Foster! Wasn’t that fun?”

5pm – Blackhawks TV Originals

I can’t tell you what this about nor do I care to find out because anyone associated with Blackhawks TV has all the panache of a cumquat.

6pm – Blackhawks Game Show

Jesus god there’s three of these things! More Second City! If you’re a tourist from Iowa/head trauma victim you’ll be highly entertained!


9am – The Hull Brothers

Do I have to say it anymore? It’s 9am so there’s a small chance Bobby won’t be drunk yet, but he’ll still be an irredeemable asshole. Maybe he’ll choke on his fucking wig already.

10am – Meet Your New Blackhawks!


11am – Life After Hockey

Burish, Bickell, Eager, and Fraser for this one. The latter three look on impatiently while Burish finds any camera left in the hotel to get in front of.


Everything Else

As the Hawks’ prospects continue to toil in the West Side heat, and I assume beg adults to buy them beer back at the hotel at night, I am left to wonder what could happen with the Hawks both on and off the ice when the season starts. And I wonder what the effect of having it happen totally in the dark in the Chicago sports scene will be.

One of the things that broke the Hawks’ way, and something that had nothing to do with John McDonough and Rocky Wirtz, is that their rise from hockey purgatory to the aristocracy was perfectly timed with the collapse of the rest of the Chicago sports scene. The ’08-’09 season started just days after both the White Sox and Cubs ate it in the Division Series (the Cubs much more spectacularly than the Sox), and neither would even come close to a playoff spot for another seven seasons. Well, actually, the Sox came within three games in 2012 but you didn’t know that because no one went and no one cared. TELL ME I’M WRONG FIFTH FEATHER.

To go along with that, the city’s juggernaut, the Bears, have only made one playoff appearance in this Hawks’ era. Sure, the end of the ’08-’09 season saw the Bears trade for Jay Cutler, and at the time that was a far bigger story than the Hawks ever produced (which might be why he dropped the puck at Game 1 that year). But the Lovie doldrums persisted, and we know what happened after that. The Bulls spasmed one conference final run, where it was promptly snuffed out as soon as LeBron started guarding Derrick Rose. The Cubs run started just at the end of the last Hawks’ championship. Quite simply, for more years than you can believe now, the Hawks had the stage to themselves. They were the only story in a city that had been starved for championships…because the Sox one doesn’t count, obviously. Nor did it ever happen.

That won’t be the case this year. The Bears, whatever they’re going to be, are going to be awfully interesting and awfully watched. The Cubs likely have a fourth-straight October to navigate. Even the Bulls, who will still suck most likely, have done SOMETHING this summer, even if signing Zach Lavine is a touch weird for that money and Jabari Parker might have one knee. It’s something they can push when the season opens. There are new toys to at least carry some novelty.

So even if the Hawks were to start say, 3-7-1, the front pages of the various sports sections and sites around town aren’t going to be adorned with a picture of Quenneville looking bemused with a headline like, “There Is No Joy In Quenneville.’ (Like they’d ever come up with something that creative!) Columnists around town, even if the collection of them would struggle to define what offsides in hockey is, are not going be penning a host of works calling for massive changes. They’ll be focusing on one out pattern MITCH BETTAH HAVE MY MONEY threw against the Lions. The external pressure, other than from impatient fans in the building–and even that’s questionable given how many sell their tickets early in the season–and the yappy construction workers that act as McD’s focus group, is just not going to be there.

Which leads me to wonder if that’s a comfort or an annoyance for the Hawks. No question they loved the spotlight. But given the iffy decisions of late and some of the facade of what they are falling down around them, do they enjoy the darkness? The lack of scrutiny? Would they want real questions being asked?

Or would the lack of attention really bother them? Would they do something–firing Q or a big trade or something of that ilk–to try and get the lights back on however much they could? Would they abandon whatever plan they have if they felt they had fallen too far back in the consciousness?

One way or another, we’re going to find out what kind of hockey town they’ve actually created here, and how they feel about it when we do.

Everything Else

I know the folly of taking the Hawks at their word. Their pronouncements from on-high have gotten weirder and less sensical as the team’s fortunes have slipped, and even more so now that less and less people are paying any attention. This is an organization that still considers itself the cream of the NHL, and yet when it came time for the most coveted free agent in recent history to hit the market the Hawks weren’t anywhere close. To be fair, John Tavares wasn’t ever going to sign with the Hawks over the Leafs, if only on emotional reasons, but for the Hawks to not even to be in the room says a lot. And whether they’ll tell you this or not, they missed out on other targets too, though as we know the rest of those targets sucked and maybe the Hawks are lucky they didn’t have the cap space or the attraction. Ian Cole was not going to make you run to the closet and sweat through the beloved sweater in July in pride, to be sure.

Still, if we take the Hawks at anything resembling face value on what they say, which is that they will ring the changes if the Hawks don’t bounce back from last season’s what-have-ya, then it’s hard to see how Quenneville is going to survive the season. Again, that’s if you take them at face value, and I’m not here to tell you that you should.

While McDonough and Rocky have hit all the notes about last season being unacceptable, along with Stan Bowman, and McDonough has pulled his noted and solo trick of bullying his employees to let everyone know just how very red and angry he is, Stan Bowman has continued along a path of a “rebuild on the fly.” All of his quotes about what the Hawks are doing at least reference keeping powder dry for next contracts to Schmaltz and DeBrincat, and what he hopes for Sikura and Ejdsell and whoever else. He continues to push Forsling as a solution on the blue line, and as you saw at the draft they took the biggest project–though most talented player– available at that spot. The Hawks have steadfastly refused to discuss Saad or Schmaltz in a trade, keeping an eye on two or three years down the road when those players have to do the heavy lifting. Either they can’t and the Hawks will suck or they become something more and the Hawks will…only kind of suck.

Everything that’s been done has been with an eye on the future. You wouldn’t do that unless you had assurances from the higher-ups that you’ll be able to see the plan through, whatever that plan might be. If a GM was trying to sit on two chairs at once, building a team to at least be competitive if everything broke right at the moment while maintaining players and hope for the future, any team that fired said GM and brought in someone else to either tear it all up or carry out the same vision with a different set of eyes would be a team that didn’t actually have a plan or organization. That very well could be the Hawks, but they at least want you to think it’s not them.

Let’s put it this way, a GM truly on the hot seat and having his job dependent on what happens this year, and maybe even just the first half of this year, would probably act with just a touch more urgency than Cam Ward, Chris Kunitz, and Brandon Manning. Just a hunch.

So where does that leave Quenneville? We know the easiest lever to pull for any organization when things go pear-shaped is to fire the coach. Rarely does it have a huge effect, though there are examples of that, but it shows you’re doing SOMETHING. Even with a coach who draws as much water as Q. Sometimes it’s just rearranging the chairs, but sometimes it provides a lift to the players who can at least hear something different when they arrive at work.

And really, what’s Q going to do here? You forget that even before Corey Crawford went down last year, the Hawks were clinging to the last playoff spot or even the chase for that like it was a tiny crimp. They were barely .500. On Dec. 22nd, they were 17-12-5, tied with Calgary for the last playoff spot and fifth in the division. A juggernaut this was not. So if we get to Christmas again, even with a healthy Corey Crawford and one who can put up THOSE numbers after missing half of a season, and that’s where the Hawks are again is that enough? Barely scraping for the last playoff spot? You wouldn’t think so. And they could be worse than that. I can sit here and say right now there are three teams in the Central assuredly better than they are right now, and Colorado, Minnesota, and Dallas could very well be and the first two finished miles ahead of them last year. Even if the Hawks were running 4th in the Central at Christmas next season but entrenched in a wild card spot, is that enough? Is “wild card” synonymous with “One Goal?” It’s an improvement, barely, but it’s not a resurgence.

I mean… I guess the team ahead of Crawford is a little better than last year’s? It is if Schmaltz and DeBrincat take a step forward (and are deployed correctly). It is if Dylan Sikura is something more than just getting to play with Adam Gaudette in college, and/or EggShell’s AHL playoff performance portends to something more. It is if Brandon Manning isn’t just a thug, and if the Hawks can finally conjure something from Gustav Forsling or fit Jokiharju on the roster. But again, that’s a lot of ifs.

What’s more likely, all that happens or Jonathan Toews’s aging curve continues the wrong way, as does Duncan Keith’s? Brent Seabrook continues to move around like Pizza The Hut? Forsling and Gustafsson prove to be nothing more than third-pairing bum-slayers and Q doesn’t find room for Jokiharju and he gets sent back to Portland? Sikura has a rough rookie season? And most of all Crawford isn’t Crawford, or isn’t even there?

You know which is more likely, even if only 50% of it happens. So either the Hawks mean what they say, and Q is out on his ass before 2019 hits, or they’re just whistling dixie, Jerry Angelo.

It wouldn’t be much of a hit anymore. A mid-season whacking (and who doesn’t love a good mid-season whacking?) would only see Q on the books for another season and a half, and that’s something an organization constantly in the mood to tell you they’re still not profitable would consider, especially when it’s the highest paid coach in the league.

Basically, we’ll know if the Hawks mean what they say come the Holidays, or it’s likely that we will.

Everything Else

Friend of the program Jay Zawaski had some thoughts on Tuesday. This is a subject we discussed a lot last year, what was the Hawks real intent on the season versus what they told everyone it was and why there was a difference. Jay’s not wrong about anything he says here, and it is a nice thought he wishes for where the Hawks were completely transparent about what their plans are going forward.

But the more I think about it, what do they have to gain?

Quite simply, the Hawks are not going to sell more tickets if they tell everyone that they’re in the process of turning over the team to their younger players. I don’t know that they’d sell less, but their position in the Chicago sports landscape isn’t so secure that they would feel they can risk it. While telling us exactly what “The Plan” is would make us all feel better, our mental state isn’t of real importance to them. The Hawks quite simply can’t take the risk of telling their only casual fans that this season might not matter. And that’s assuming there is “a plan.”

Secondly, the Hawks can’t really send that message to Keith, to Seabrook, to Kane, to Toews, and maybe even especially to Crawford. While the organization might be looking at the days already where they’re no longer the main contributors, considering they’re the guys who pulled this organization out of the seventh level of hell they’re owed a certain amount of promises from the front office. You can’t really tell these guys that they’re going to spend the next season or two or three playing games that aren’t going to matter. Maybe they know it already, maybe they don’t, but you certainly can’t give them that message in public. And considering whatever Crawford is working his way back from (and right now “working” is just a claim), it would be truly unfair to have him bust his ass to come back to backstop a team his bosses just told everyone isn’t really relevant.

These guys are made, and I think the only way the Hawks could even consider it would be to meet with them privately and say this is where we want to go, and you have the option of being a part of it or not. These guys all have full NMCs and I doubt any of them are interested in moving, but they also might not want to have another playoff-less season or two.

At the same time, the Hawks simply can’t move them, because of the aforementioned fragility of their place in the market. Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, and Crawford are still the players most fans can identify only and buy the tickets to see. You and I might go to see Top Cat’s or Schmaltz’s (or hopefully Jokiharju’s) development (because we’re sick and our lives our empty), but the guy or girl you work with doesn’t. Even if we passed through some undiscovered wormhole into a world where the Hawks could and would do a full tear-down, McDonough and Rocky are not going to stomach a season or two of a half-empty building. Not after all the back-slapping they’ve done with each other by taking the Hawks out of that by simply standing there while the roster that was already in place took shape.

However, the Hawks “rebuild” plan is flawed. You “rebuild, ” whether fully or on the fly, if you have players to build the future around. The Hawks don’t. Nick Schmaltz maxes out as a great #2 center. Maybe DeBrincat is a genuine top line scorer, and maybe he’s something of a tweener from a #1 or #2 LW. He could be any iteration of Phil Kessel, really. There’s no top-pairing d-man anywhere near ready. If you’re building a team around #2 centers and maybe 1st-line wingers, congratulations you’re the St. Louis Blues or the Minnesota Wild. And you know where that road goes and it’s nowhere pretty.

Which brings me to Erik Karlsson. If you’re a team that’s called about Justin Faulk, then you’d obviously call about Erik Karlsson because Erik Karlsson is the absolute idealized version of Justin Faulk. Sure, the Hawks would have to clear out Hossa’s contract to fit him in for this season, and then need more salary cap rises to accommodate him for the next contract he’s going to sign. But based on what’s been rumored to be the return from the Stars or Lightning, the Hawks could probably match it.

So if they’re not rebuilding, and they say they aren’t, and they’re after Justin Faulk, why aren’t they calling? Why aren’t they at least saying they’re calling? Karlsson is the quickest route to maximizing whatever you have left in “the core.” If you’re stated aim of competing every season is your actual aim, and we don’t know that it is, you’d be in on this. You would have been in on Tavares too, but the Hawks didn’t even get in the room.

McClure has a theory that the Hawks would never take on any player that would have to be paid more than Toews and Kane (which is funny in itself, because Keith has been the most important player throughout this run but that’s another discussion). Karlsson doesn’t make that yet but obviously will. I wonder if that’s the case and whether that really matters to either if they’re staring at finishing out their careers playing on middling teams.

Given what’s already on the roster, the Hawks simply can’t be bad enough to draft high enough to get a true difference maker without a shit-ton of luck either in the lottery or by getting a player of that quality in the spots they don’t generally come from. So why are those picks so important? And if everyone’s job is on the line like they claim, wouldn’t you be after the one player that basically assures everyone keeps their job? Karlsson takes this dreck and at worst it’s a playoff team with a healthy Crawford (and maybe even not). That would at least see Quenneville finish the season and Stan get to see out whatever his plan is.

But again, there’s no impetus for them to tell us. The sweaty hand-clappers and their ugly fucking kids will still be at the Convention happily sopping up whatever tripe they’re fed. There won’t be much scrutiny from a press corps that has the Cubs and Bears training camp a mere two weeks away. Quite simply, the Hawks won’t tell us what they’re doing because they don’t have to.