After Sunday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Blackhawks’ dressing room stayed closed for roughly a half hour before opening. When the doors did open, Seth Jones, Corey Perry and Ryan Donato were available to speak with the media. They weren’t happy.
Jones spoke first and admitted the team had a players meeting to clear the air. Head coach Luke Richardson wasn’t in the room. The veterans on the roster wanted to make sure every player in the room knew where this team wants to go and was very well aware of the level of accountability that’s expected as the Blackhawks try to turn the page from last season into a more regularly competitive product.
“[We talked about] being accountable and playing in the systems that we’ve installed through training camp and the first few games of the season,” Perry said. “We do it in spurts but we need to do for a full game. We had a good heart to heart and we’ll move on.”
““We have to [talk about it when we face adversity],” he continued. “That’s a brotherhood. You’re not putting anybody down. That’s not what we’re here to do. That wasn’t the message. It’s more being brothers and being able to talk about it and figure it out as men.”
All three players spoke about the themes they established in the room early in training camp and the bar they’ve set for expectations amongst the group this season, and it’s clear that level wasn’t met in Sunday night’s loss.
We’re now 11 games into the season and the Blackhawks have, arguably, four of the more impressive wins in the NHL with road victories at Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vegas and a home win against Florida on Saturday night. But they’ve been plagued with following those impressive wins — and preceding them — with disappointing performances. Richardson and his veteran leaders are looking to start stringing together 3-5 wins at a time and the wins they have on their early-season resume tells them they can do it. But the inconsistent play has hurt them.
Richardson said the next couple weeks could prove to be huge for this team the rest of the season. After a couple really good practice days following the loss in Arizona, they played well against the Panthers. They’ll take Monday off and practice hard on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Tampa. He said they plan on the same approach next week after they play in Florida next Sunday and have three days off before hosting the Bolts.