What do you do if you’re the Chicago Blackhawks? What do you wish for this holiday season?
Hope? A rebuild? Does anyone even really know what this team needs?
Let’s start with the standings. The Blackhawks hold a 11-19-6 record ahead of Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They’ve lost 10 of their last 12, including three games from this past week. They can clean up a little against Dallas, but that’s not too likely.
Granted, the Blackhawks did rally to defeat the Nashville Predators on Tuesday by a final score of 2-1.
But that’s a faint glimmer of hope and it’s hardly enough to satiate the situation.
Going over the troubles of the Blackhawks may seem a bit repetitive at this point, but that’s sort of what you do when a team keeps coming up with more problems. Now, goalie Corey Crawford is on the shelf with a concussion and there’s no timetable for his return.
“He just needs time to get better,” coach Jeremy Colliton said Tuesday. “Obviously you feel for him and want him, first of all as a person, just get back to 100 percent as quick as he can. Until then, we’ll keep battling.”
“Battling” is putting it lightly. The Blackhawks have not responded under new coach Colliton.
While most teams answer the bell when someone the magnitude of Joel Quenneville is shipped out of town, these Blackhawks are folding like nobody’s business. They look like an even weaker team now than before and are having trouble adjusting to Colliton’s system. They seem desperate, but not in a good way.
Sure, they’ve made some roster moves. Prospect Dylan Sikura was hauled up from the AHL and brought some intensity, especially against the Sharks on Sunday. The Blackhawks lost the game by an insane margin, but at least the new guy looked okay fighting off checks over the course of a dozen minutes.
It’s the little things that have to work here. Short a blast-off rebuild, the Blackhawks are stuck looking for rhythm in small places. They need players like Sikura and Carl Dahlstrom, whose play shoved Jan Rutta on waivers, to contribute.
But maybe breaking it all down is the answer.
After all, there are some troublesome contracts on this club and the Cup-winning roster isn’t looking all that sharp anymore – even though it’s hard to fault the stars. Patrick Kane has a formidable 15 goals so far, while Jonathan Toews has 16.
Even so, there’s value to be found. Like the Los Angeles Kings, another Cup-winner turned basement dweller, the Blackhawks are in a pretty good position as far as trades go. And if they make the precocious decision to push anyone and everyone on the blocks, they may just find the renewal needed to fuel something – anything – this season.
Failing that, there’s always next year. Or the year after that.