Yesterday was a whirlwind surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks. Starting with the retirement of veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook, multiple players being placed on long-term injured reserve, and then having to face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second of three games in four days after a heatbreaking buzzer beater the night before. No big deal, right?
The Blackhawks handled everything yesterday with a ton of poise and class across the board. Seabrook’s career was put to a close in as best a way as it could have given the current circumstances and the team went out and got a dazzling, hard-fought win in the shootout over the Lightning.
This has been quite the season.
• In case you missed it, Seabrook ended his playing career after 15 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. Citing mounting injury complications, Seabrook ends his career with the Blackhawks having played the third-most games (1,114) in franchise history, scored the third-most goals (103) by a defenseman in franchise history, sixth-most points (464) by a defenseman, three Stanley Cups, and a 2010 Olympic Gold Medal with Canada. That’s quite the career and should get serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.
• Now it is important to note that Seabrook isn’t technically “retiring,” but rather ending his playing career. The verbiage makes a difference when looking at how his infamous contract details will now have to play out. Much like the situation with Marian Hossa ending his career with the Blackhawks, Seabrook will still be under contract until his deal expires at the end of the 2023-24 season. But since he is deeming his career over due to injury complications, he can be placed on long-term injured reserve and have his $6.875M AAV cap hit NOT count against the Blackhawks. He will also not need protection in the upcoming Seattle Expansion draft. Both are good news for the Blackhawks.
• Seabrook was in the building last night for the Blackhawks’ win over the Lightning and was presented with a tribute video. He received a standing ovation and stick taps from everyone in the ice, but it’s a damn shame that 22,000 fans couldn’t be in the United Center to properly honor him.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) March 6, 2021
• The team talked after the game about what it meant to have Seabrook around last night:
Boqvist on Brent Seabrook: "He's a great teammate and an even better person. This win is for him."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 6, 2021
• Jeremy Colliton and Seabrook were teammates with Team Canada back in 2004 at the World Junior Championships, and he himself had his playing career cut short due to injuries, he talked about the team’s response having Seabrook around last night:
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton on the tribute to Brent Seabrook: "It definitely meant something for the guys. Kaner had some great words after the game for Seabs."
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) March 6, 2021
• Alex DeBrincat spoke about what Seabrook’s leadership means to the group, even now when he has not been playing:
DeBrincat on the postgame: "Brent was in there. He had a nice little speech for us. It’s good to hear from him. Probably a very emotional day for him and a lot of guys in the room. It was good we got the win and he can be proud of us and we just gotta keep going."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 6, 2021
• DeBrincat played a huge role in the win last night, scoring the two goals that brought Chicago back from being down 2-0 in the first period. DeBrincat’s first goal of the night gave him 100 goals and 200 points in his NHL career.
💥100 Goals | 200 Points💥
Big night for the Cat. Congrats, Alex! pic.twitter.com/FvXmMzCdCg
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 6, 2021
• It was DeBrincat’s eighth multi-point game of the season and extended his current points streak to eight games with 11 points over that stretch. Also having a multi-point game last night was Patrick Kane with two assists on the DeBrincat goals. For Kane, it was his 11th multi-point game of the season. Both he and DeBrincat are part of a group of 12 players to have eight or more multi-point games this season, with Kane’s 11 trailing only Connor McDavid’s 12 multi-point games for the league lead.
• Speaking of milestones, Duncan Keith got on the scoresheet for only the third time in the past 19 games with an assist on the 3-3 game-tying goal from Dominik Kubalík. With the helper, Keith moved into a tie with Steve Larmer for sixth on the all-time assists list in Blackhawks history.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 6, 2021
• It was great to see Keith get back on the scoresheet in the same game that honored Brent Seabrook, both of whom consider the other their best friend.
— Four Feathers Podcast (@FourFeathersPod) March 6, 2021
• I’m not crying, YOU ARE.
• If you notice at the end of that clip above, Seabrook and Keith hold NHL history together:
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 6, 2021
• The win in the shootout last night came on the back of Malcolm Subban, making 39 saves on 42 shots and shutting down the Lightning three times in the shootout. It was a true redemption effort by Subban after the season-opening 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Subban is now 4-2-1 on the season with a .918 save percentage and a 2.63 GAA.
Stop 👏🏻 doubting 👏🏻 Malcolm 👏🏻Subban 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/mXTSbEOyLW
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) March 6, 2021
• The win, paired with the effort on Thursday night showed a ton of growth from the Blackhawks since the opening series against the Lightning at the beginning of the season. After getting their first win of the season over the Lightning last night, the Blackhawks have put everyone on notice that they are for real. Including the Lightning:
Askde where @NHLBlackhawks stack up in division, #tblightning Ryan McDonagh said, "No doubt, they are a top team. Every team in our division, they can beat you any night. Chicago has a great d-core, can really skate and move the puck, some high-flying forwards."
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) March 6, 2021
• The rubber match comes tomorrow afternoon, but coming into the three-game set I had hoped the Blackhawks could at least come out with three points against the Lightning. Any points earned tomorrow is gravy for Chicago as they sit comfortably in fourth-place in the Central Division based on points (31) and points percentage (.620).
Under the NHL’s scheduling format this season, the #Blackhawks have played the same opponent in consecutive games 12 times. In the second game against the same opponent this season, Chicago is 9-1-2 and have victories in eight straight.
— Will Chukerman (@willchukerman) March 6, 2021
• To finish off here today, a bit of news around the league. The TV rights deal between the NHL and NBC comes to an end this summer, making it open game for the National TV broadcast rights for the league. According to Sean Shapiro of The Athletic, it looks like the NHL may have a partner in ESPN. Shapiro details that the NHL would ideally want a partnership, rather than an exclusive rights deal, and NBC and ESPN may just bring that together. Check out the full piece for all the details.
• Have yourselves a Saturday, folks!