It’s snowing outside in the Chicago area, so if you needed confirmation that we’re getting into the meat and potatoes part of the NHL calendar just look out the window. The Blackhawks have had a rough go in November, and their latest loss was a tough one.
Last night the Blackhawks welcomed a potential championship contender into the United Center and… looked like the lottery team they’re supposed to be. It was what has become a rare clunker for the Hawks, an effort that was undoubtedly disappointing for the guys in the room and the coaching staff.
After the game, head coach Luke Richardson said he liked the effort but they just didn’t quite finish. And that was obvious if you watched the game; the Hawks had some really good looks but couldn’t get one past Pyotr Kochetkov, who pitched a shutout in his second career NHL start. He was really good, so let’s give credit where it’s due. But the Blackhawks probably have a half dozen chances they would like back.
Toews had some words on Monday about a number of things, including how the changes behind the bench have impacted the performance on the ice this season. There’s no question 19 has bought into what Luke Richardson is selling in the room, and the guys around him are following his lead. But he wasn’t terribly subtle with his thoughts about the differences between this year’s team and last year’s version.
Next on the calendar for the Blackhawks is the Blues on Wednesday night. The rivalry will always be there, and fans love it. It appears players enjoy the rivalry, too, and one former Blackhawk had some strong thoughts about St. Louis as a city. Scott Darling didn’t mince words last night, and I’m here for it.
Darling also shared this amazing story about a Blackhawks legend. I really like Darling’s work in the studio for the Blackhawks so far this season. Some former players aren’t as comfortable in front of a camera, but he’s been a natural. This was a fun one.
Speaking of Marian Hossa, not only is he getting his jersey retired this coming weekend, but he has a book out (in case you hadn’t heard). If you want to meet Hossa this week and pick up a signed copy of his book, he’s doing three events around the area starting in Naperville today.
The legend himself spent some time with the boys at the NBC Sports Chicago offices. They dropped that edition of their podcast on Monday afternoon. During the interview, Hossa shared that he has an idea for a role he could take on with the Blackhawks in the future that he looks forward to discussing with Danny Wirtz and the rest of the Blackhawks’ brass while he’s in town. But he isn’t going to jump into anything half-way, because that’s not how Hossa rolls.
In the latest edition of the “32 Thoughts” Podcast that dropped on Monday, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about how coaches in new places are succeeding. And something Friedman said really stuck out to me:
“I know it’s taking a little time but if I’m committed, I want to be committed 100 percent to a certain role. Obviously it’s difficult to be involved fully because I’m living in Slovakia. It wouldn’t be fair to take some role and then not do it 100 percent, so we’re trying to maybe start slower.”
Looking around the NHL, there’s a lot of evidence that supports this idea. Last week I wrote about Luke Richardson and how new head coaches have done with their respective teams this season. Friedman’s comments also brought to mind both how fortunate we were as Blackhawks fans to have a decade of pretty good success with the same core group of players and Joel Quenneville as the head coach, and that there is a timetable for needed change in any organization and the Blackhawks had passed that expiration date with both Quenneville and Stan Bowman well before either was let go. Obviously what we learned about the organization in the wake of the Kyle Beach investigation changes the historical narrative around the careers of both of those guys. But staying in the context of this conversation, it’s a reminder that a full decade of the same coach-GM combo isn’t common any more — and maybe it shouldn’t be.
“If I was a general manager, you’d really have to convince me that, if I’m keeping the same core together, more than five years makes any sense.”
This was a class move from Richardson after the morning skate on Monday. He started his comments to the media by extending his thoughts and those of the players and organization to the families of the young hockey players from St. Ignatius.
After putting together a five-point effort on Friday, it was probably pretty easy for the fine folks in the Hockey East conference to name Ryan Greene their Player of the Week. He’s off to a terrific start for the Terriers. The Blackhawks selected Greene with the pick they received in the trade that sent Marc-André Fleury to the Minnesota Wild.
Forward Aidan Thompson played his third and fourth games of the season over the weekend and he made it count. He scored a goal in both games and added an assist on Friday night, giving him the first goal and multi-point game of his college career. He also won 62.5 percent of his faceoffs over the two games. On Monday he was named the NCHC Rookie of the Week.
With Thompson added to the lineup, DU jumped past Minnesota into the top spot in this week’s USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. As a reminder, the Blackhawks have lots of prospects playing college hockey this season; this week, they have prospects playing for Nos. 1, 5, 9, 10, 13, 17 and 20. And Frank Nazar is at Michigan, but out hurt. Not shabby!
Last night we were denied potential revenge games from Teuvo Teravainen (hurt) and Calvin de Haan (an unhappy healthy scratch). Max Domi and Petr Mrazek weren’t able to serve up some revenge to their former teammates, either. The idea of players we love wearing the wrong jersey came up on the diamond yesterday as well. And I wouldn’t be a fan of seeing our guy playing first base in Houston next year.