Canada lowered the boom on poor Austria last night and there was a little history made along the way. That game was limping to a conclusion as the Blackhawks got started. It was another frustrating night at the office for the Blackhawks, who are now 0-2-0 since Christmas.
- After the game, head coach Luke Richardson spoke highly of Isaak Phillips‘ performance. The young defensemen skated 14:05 in the game and was credited with only one takeaway in the game, but has looked increasingly comfortable as he skated in more games. Now if only the coaches would put Ian Mitchell on the ice with him…
- Boris Katchouk shouldn’t be on this roster. And if he is, he shouldn’t be playing. I know the Blackhawks are focused on the future, but he’s been on a run of games now with significant mistakes every night. And in St. Louis, the Blackhawks played too hard and too well for him to cough-up the game-winning goal like he did last night. A healthy scratch at minimum might let him and the rest of the room know that there is still a concern level for brutal play.
- Mark Lazerus at The Athletic wrote a nice story about veteran defenseman Jake McCabe, who’s one of the few guys who is openly sick of losing and wants it to end. Yeah, they’re all sick of losing. But most of the guys in the room have been professionals with their unhappiness about the Blackhawks’ record to date. Not McCabe. He was pretty blunt.
“Frankly, it sucks, but it is what it is,” McCabe said of the rebuild, a few hours before the Blackhawks lost for the 18th time in their last 20 games, 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. “You just have to have a good attitude about it. I think I do a pretty good job of separating my work from my family and turn that part of my brain off when I get home as best as I can. Some days are easier than others. But I come in refreshed the next day and ready to work and continue to get better at my own game, help young guys around here and help us grow as a team and grow an identity.”
- McCabe, 29, has two more years after this on his contract with a $4 million cap hit. His contract does have a 7-team no-trade list attached to it. If he’s willing to talk this frankly with Lazerus, I would imagine he might have a conversation with the front office if a team calls for help on their blue line. And he’s been good enough that his contract should be very attractive to teams that aren’t looking to rent. Lazerus asked him about the possibility of not finishing his contract in Chicago.
“That s—’s out of my control,” he said with a shrug. “You can’t spend your nights laying in bed thinking about what’s going to happen next year or two months from now or four months or whatever it may be. I truly stay very present, and I think I’ve done a good job of that over my career. I’ve learned to handle that pretty well. Why waste your breath worrying about those things? I come to work excited and I come to work my ass off every night. What else can you do?”
- Another veteran who’s having a nice bounce-back season (when healthy) has been Tyler Johnson. I don’t think there would be a significant market for him like there could/will be for McCabe (he’s 32 and has one more year at a $5 million cap hit after this), but he’s been the kind of veteran you need on a rebuilding team. And, when he’s been able to be on the ice, he’s been good this season. Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about Johnson this morning. And Richardson told Pope that Johnson has been vocal about trying some things offensively to help generate more (any?) scoring.
“We were just discussing some of our ‘O’-zone options, trying to make it automatic so we can get ahead of the other team a little quicker,” Richardson said. “He threw his two cents in on a play we could maybe add to that, and I agreed. We actually practiced it once early in the season, but things kind of go in rotation…so we’ll probably add it in.
“I always like the players to discuss if we agree, disagree, or have thoughts on things to do better. They’re the guys out there playing and really feel what might be open and what might not be, so I like to have input.”
- I know I spent a lot of time getting excited about Connor Bedard‘s seven-point night on Wednesday. Well, he came back with six points on Thursday night in another blowout win for Canada. He now has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in three (3!) games in the World Juniors. And he scored his 14th career goal at a World Juniors tournament last night, which ties the record for Canadian skaters in the event. The kid’s amazing. And the reason teams like the Blackhawks are okay with not being competitive this year.
- As you might imagine in an 11-0 win, most of Canada’s skaters had a decent night in the box score. Three of the Blackhawks’ four prospects on the roster picked up a point. Kevin Korchinski did not register a point. Colton Dach and Ethan Del Mastro each had an assist, though.
- Del Mastro led all Canadian skaters with 19:18 on ice. He was plus-one in the game; the Blackhawks’ other three prospects were all plus-two in the game. Korchinski was credited with two shots on net in 15:42.
- Nolan Allan scored his first goal of the tournament and had two shots on net in 16:40.
- Pierre LeBrun wrote up some free agent rumors on Thursday at The Athletic. Of course Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were highlighted, together. LeBrun reports the conversation between their shared agent, Pat Brisson, and the Blackhawks’ front office will take place at some point in the next three weeks, which is line with what David Pagnotta at The Fourth Period reported a couple weeks ago. LeBrun added the following to his report:
Brisson, reached by phone Wednesday, said he’s planning to chat with both players “within the next three weeks” about their feelings regarding the trade deadline. So we should start to get some clarity on where this is headed after that. Both control their own destiny, with full no-move clauses. Brisson added that he doubted an extension with a new team would be part of the trade process, although wouldn’t completely close the door on it.
- Of course the New York Rangers have been prominently linked to Kane in trade rumors basically since they signed Artemi Panarin. And news that they were going to make a former No. 1 overall pick a healthy scratch on Thursday was at least intriguing. I had thoughts on that report yesterday.
- Whenever the phone calls start getting answered and the Blackhawks open the trade doors, I expect one of the first players to get recalled from Rockford to be Cole Guttman. The Blackhawks signed him after he was the captain of the University of Denver’s national championship team; he was originally drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round in 2017 but they didn’t sign him. He plays the game the front office and coaches want it to be played and is producing very well in his first professional season. The 23-year-old center has 10 goals and 8 assists in 21 games in Rockford this season.
- Finally, a couple pieces from our Bears crew of note from yesterday. A couple names have emerged as strong candidates — finalists? — to replace Ted Phillips as the president of the Bears. One is Kevin Warren, the commissioner of the Big Ten Conference. The other: Colin Faulkner, the husband of Blackhawks’ president of business operations Jaime Faulkner. Colin Faulkner currently works for the Cubs. The Bears hiring an executive away from the Cubs who happens to be the husband of the president of the Blackhawks might be the most aggressive crossover event in Chicago sports content since… Ron Santo was traded to the White Sox for a package including Steve Stone?