Quite the roller-coaster ride of a week, wasn’t it?
But it was a fitting result, considering everything that transpired in the 24-48 hours prior to that, with Lukas Reichel being sent back to the IceHogs just a handful of days after coach Luke Richardson suggested the 2020 first-round pick might hang around for the long haul.
It was at least somewhat curious that the team’s GM felt the need to address the media soon after that Reichel demotion happened, right? It’s like the front office was aware of the backlash that would ensue after the team removed what’s damn near the only reason worth watching on this team at the moment.
And then Davidson pretty much gave the whole game away with his comments:
Davidson: "Let's call a spade a spade: We're chasing most games here, and I don't necessarily think that's conducive to extremely positive development. There's great situations in Rockford where our young players have to go out and defend a lead."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 14, 2023
This team is bad on purpose. They’re chasing games on purpose. The only “meaningful hockey” is happening in Rockford on purpose. There’s absolutely a developmental route for Reichel that has him playing NHL games for the rest of this season and beyond — but not according to The Plan™. It felt like the closest Davidson will ever get to publicly stating that the team has no interest in winning games this season.
But that’s where the long-term math on what the Blackhawks can become tougher to comprehend. Yeah, I know: Connor Bedard and all that. But we’ve talked about this before, that Bedard is just one of 18 skaters. What if landing him comes at the expense of the development of Reichel? Or Isaak Phillips? Or Alec Regula? Or some other prospect who’s on the verge of an NHL jump but won’t get that chance? Sometimes this path feels so singularly focused that it’s missing all of these other trees in this massive forest that the team is currently trying to escape.
Hossa help us if they don’t land that No. 1 pick, because it could get really ugly in a hurry around these parts.
The Week That Was
Genuinely asking: is it possible that this is going to the high point of the regular season?
That six-goal eruption from Seattle in the first period resulted in a trip to the record books to discover the last time the Blackhawks had allowed six in a period:
Oh, up to the late 90s! Nov. 12, 1998, lost to the Maple Leafs 10-3.— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) January 15, 2023
Toronto scored 6 in the third: https://t.co/W6ZfAAUAhV
Being at the United Center is a strange experience these days. Please note: not “bad” — just strange. Because anyone who was inside that building during the Blackhawks’ heyday remembers what that environment was like with 20,000-plus hanging on every millimeter the puck traveled across the ice. It was everything that could be hoped for out of attending a professional sports game: the noise, the drama, the excitement, the nerves — it was all there for you.
Had my first trip to the UC this season on Thursday night for the aforementioned game against the Avalanche and it’s obviously a different setting these days, given the reality of the Blackhawks’ present situation. I mentioned this on our podcast, but it kind of felt like a big indoor picnic with the hockey game down on the ice almost rendered to the background for people who were there to visit with the friends or family seated alongside them. Just the nature of the beast these days, unfortunately.
It reminded me of the first time I returned to the small college I’d attended, somewhere around five years after I’d graduated. I remember walking around and, like muscle memory, I hit certain parts of campus and expected certain persons to be there just because every other time I’d walked by that part of campus, that’s where I saw them. But none of those people were there anymore. They were all gone: graduated, just like I had. Many of the professors I’d had during my time there were gone as well, and it served as an unexpectedly harsh reminder that the four years I spent there were gone forever because all of the variables that added up to my college experience were unique to me, never to be replicated again. But that’s how just about every life experience works.
And that had me wondering about what it’ll be like if the Blackhawks become as good again as they were a decade — holy shit, we can say “a decade” now and have it be generally accurate — ago. Will the United Center still feel the same? Will the crowd’s eruption after a goal hit our ears in the same way? Will we latch on to every momentum shift as precariously as we did all those years ago? We’re all going to have — at least — another decade of life lived before this team starts threatening to be a postseason contender again. What are we going to be like by then? What’s the team going to be like? Is it going to be anywhere near as good then as it was in the past?
.... guess we’ll find out, eh?
The Week That Will Be
Tuesday, Jan. 17 vs. Buffalo Sabres
When this game starts, just watch Sabres forward Tage Thompson. He’ll probably do something cool.
Thursday, Jan. 19 at Philadelphia Flyers
In a stat that will not leave my mind until it becomes irrelevant: the Blackhawks have not won a regular-season game in Philly since the Clinton administration. Seriously, look it up.
Saturday, Jan. 21 at St. Louis Blues
At least the Blackhawks are out of the playoffs and they’re supposed to be there?
Sunday, Jan. 22 vs. Los Angeles Kings
Kevin Fiala is a very good hockey player but it feels like a struggle to take a team too seriously when Fiala is that team’s leading scorer.