It’s not often that you hear Joel Quenneville call out one of his players publicly, but he had some constructive criticism for Richard Panik when asked about his decision to healthy scratch the winger for the Blackhawks’ matchup against the Panthers Tuesday night.
Quenneville on what he hopes Panik takes from being scratched: "Whether he’s shooting or around the net, disturbing there, but having the puck and keeping it more than as opposed to being a dead-end at that end when he does get around it."— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) December 12, 2017
The language there is a little difficult to parse out in detail, but it’s clear Quenneville is taking a different tact here than with previous healthy scratches. Here’s what Coach Q said when asked about healthy scratching defenseman Connor Murphy near the beginning of the season.
Quenneville on Murphy: "I don’t want him to change his game at all. Actually, his game’s been fine."— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) October 16, 2017
The contrast there isn’t difficult to see. With Murphy, Quenneville made it clear that the decision wasn’t necessarily about the player, but rather an effect of the team’s desire to get a deeper look at its eight defensemen.
With Panik, Quenneville didn’t mince words like that. Panik is being scratched because of Panik. That’ll happen when you post two goals in 26 games.
The goal here, between the healthy scratch and the public comments, seems to be to light a fire under Panik. He’s still a talented player signed through next season at a $2.8 million cap hit, so the Hawks have a vested interest in getting him back on track, whether it’s as a top-nine option or a trade candidate. Hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround for the streaky winger.