It's Quiet (Too Quiet), "Why Are You So Pissy?" And Other Blackhawks Bullets

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It’s Quiet (Too Quiet), “Why Are You So Pissy?” And Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks were supposed to have a game yesterday against the Edmonton Oilers, but it was postponed to a later date. Hopefully, we’ll find out later today when all of postponed NHL games are going to be played. But after a shootout loss on Monday night, Chicago has an extended break until their back-to-back contests on Friday and Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild. It makes you start to think about big picture ideas as the NHL All-Star break approaches, marking the middle of the season.

•   Chicago is currently not in a playoff chase and also not in the sweepstakes for the top overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. They are in NHL Purgatory, yet again. The trade deadline is approaching fast and there are plenty of names on this roster that the Blackhawks could/should move. They also are still operating under an interim GM and head coach. So what is happening on those fronts?

•   According to Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, in summary, nothing yet. In his latest rumors and rumblings feature, Lazerus explains that pretty much every GM in the NHL is focusing on trying to finish the season first, as healthy as possible, before they are making any wild moves leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21. Plus much more on the futures of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Alex DeBrincat, and the searches for the next GM and head coach. I urge you to read the full feature. We’ll also have more on it very soon.

•   Speaking of the players the Blackhawks should be trading, we went through a full list of them earlier this month. The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek mentions a number of them in here, including Marc-André Fleury and Dominik Kubalík, and the likelihood that they get moved.

•   Fleury, Kubalík, Dylan Strome, Calvin de Haan, etc. anything that is not bolted down should be on the trade block for the Blackhawks as we approach March 21. We’ll have more on this later.

•   One thing I would consider “bolted down” is 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel. The Blackhawks have not had a great track-record of drafting and developing their own players for a long time. It looked like things were going in the right direction with Henri Jokiharju, then they traded him. Same could be said for the development of Adam Boqvist, then they traded him. With Reichel, his rookie season is going well with the Rockford IceHogs and he looked just fine in his first two NHL games last week. He’s a part of the future in Chicago.

•   It doesn’t appear as if the AHL will be naming All-Star teams this year after having their All-Star festivities canceled again due to complications with the ongoing COVID pandemic. But it doesn’t seem too far of a stretch to think that Reichel could have very-well been in the mix to be named to the Central Division All-Star squad.

•   Game score, for those unfamiliar, is a stat used to measure a player’s individual impact on a game-to-game basis. The numerical measurement is designed to closely replicate individual points. The closer to 1.00 or higher a player is, the better they are playing. For example, Patrick Kane’s game score this season is 0.54, while Alex DeBrincat is 0.69, and the NHL-leader is currently Mikko Rantanen with a 1.94. So for Reichel to be at a 0.95 per game in the AHL, that’s pretty damn good for a 19-year-old.

•   Last night, the Boston Bruins honored Willie O’Ree, the first Black player in NHL history, by retiring his No. 22. You can see the video used in the ceremony on O’Ree’s impact on the game, including messages from Blake Bolden, Ryan Reaves, and Kevin Weekes.

•   On his long-overdue night, O’Ree spoke about his career, being the first Black player in the NHL, and what the Bruins have always meant to him.

•   His No. 22 is forever in the rafters in Boston among the greats like Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and John Bucyk.

•   Again, a long-overdue night for a pioneer of the sport like O’Ree.

•   Shifting gears, everything is fine in Edmonton…

•   Leon Draisaitl and Jim Matheson’s exchange was the talk of the town in Hockey yesterday. “Why are you so pissy?” Well, you see, Jim, when the media jumps down the throats of some of the best players in the game for a bad stretch of hockey, sometimes they hear or see what you say about them and maybe they don’t like it and don’t feel inclined to talk to you. Draisaitl does not owe Matheson, or anyone, quotable answers.

•   This is where the nuances of locker room access are lost with public pressers and Zoom availabilities. For more on the exchange heard ’round the Hockey world, here’s Daily Faceoff’s Scott Burnside on the player-media dynamic in the NHL.

•   Not everything in Edmonton has to be tense though, as we saw with former Blackhawk Brendan Perlini earlier this week…

•   There’s a reason Perlini, with just eight points in his last 58 NHL games since the 2019-20 season, sticks around the league.

•   A good way to stick around in the league is to score goals, any way you can…

•   Oh sure, Andrew Shaw can’t headbutt the puck into the net, but Michael Pezzetta can kiss it into the net? Bogus.

•   Last week we learned that the Quebec government had recently reached out to the NHL to express their interest in having a team return to Quebec City, the former home of the Nordiques. The NHL said essentially “thanks, but no thanks,” as the league cited that no expansion opportunities are present in the league right now.

•   Ok, sure, not expansion. But what about relocation? Again, not an avenue the NHL is looking into at this time, at least not for Quebec City. The league will likely look to Kansas City or Houston for their next expansion/relocation opportunities.

•   I get that there would be difficulty in finding the corporate money needed in Quebec City, but the hockey market and fan base would be through the roof. For context, let’s check in on the hockey hot-bed in Arizona…

•   I’ve been to more well-attended Blackhawks practices.

•   The Blackhawks have their own coaching search to complete at some point in the next few months. So do the Bears. Yesterday, I brought up Brian Flores as my top pick for the next head coach of the Bears. The Bears themselves seems to also really like Flores, but it might not be as simple as it seems.

•   “Smitten.” I’ll challenge myself to use that term organically somehow today. That will make the day more interesting.

•   That will do it for today. I hope you all enjoy your Wednesday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.