A year into his $23.4M contract with the Montreal Canadiens, Andrew Shaw has regressed back to his old self, something Chicago Blackhawks fans are familiar with
Last offseason, the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to part ways with a very influential player in Andrew Shaw. The ’Hawks and Shaw’s agent couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract before the 2016-17 season, so Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round draft picks.
Shaw was a part of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup teams in Chicago and was always a fan favorite at the United Center.
Shaw was known for his grit and his willingness to do the dirty work on the team. Those duties included but were not limited to battling in the corners, getting to the front of the net, finishing checks and fighting to motivate his team. All of those things had one thing in common: Shaw paid the price physically.
Young Andrew Shaw
When Shaw got to the NHL, he already had the reputation of being a firecracker. In his first NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Shaw went after the toughest guy on the ice in Zac Rinaldo.
He was clearly undersized and was bloodied at the end of the fight, but Shaw wanted to prove his value to the Blackhawks. He returned after getting sewn up with stitches and scored his first career goal.
Because the Blackhawks are a puck possession style team, Shaw’s game didn’t fit in immediately. As a rookie, he committed bad penalties and put his team at a disadvantage because he couldn’t contain his temper.
But with the help of the Blackhawks coaching staff, Shaw was able to refocus some of his energy and become a productive player on the team.
In 2013, Shaw had his best season by scoring 20 goals with 19 assists in 80 games. He was underrated at the faceoff dot and could play on any line. Shaw continued to create energy for the Blackhawks by finishing checks and getting under the skin of other team’s top players, but only when there was purpose.
Shaw even earned time on the first unit of the powerplay with his willingness to stand in front of the net. His deflection goal in the third overtime of Game 1 in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final will always be remembered as one of the most iconic goals in Blackhawks history — mostly because of the ” I love shin pads” exclamation after scoring the goal.
Post-Blackhawks Andrew Shaw
Since being acquired by the Montreal Canadiens, it seems as though Shaw has fallen into some old habits.
Already with 90 penalty minutes in just 43 games, Shaw is out again to prove his value to his team. When GM Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens signed Shaw, they thought they were getting a 25-year-old versatile forward with Stanley Cup experience.
I don’t think they wanted a slewfooting agitator who can’t seem to stay out of the penalty box.
Just like his first game in the NHL, Shaw couldn’t wait to show Montreal fans how tough he is. In fact, he started early when he boarded Connor Hobbs in a preseason game in retaliation of a trip he took just minutes before.
After the check on Hobbs, Shaw proceeded to fight Nathan Walker. Shaw was suspended for the first three games of the regular season for his hit on Hobbs.
Shaw made NHL headlines again this season with his slewfoots (yes, plural) on Johan Larsson, Valtteri Filppula and Connor McDavid. His poor antics were on full display in a game against the Anaheim Ducks in November.
Shaw didn’t like that he was called for hooking and threw a temper tantrum in the penalty box. He broke his stick into several pieces and continued screaming profanities at the referees until he was finally sent to the locker room. On his way out, he took out the stick rack.
Montreal is a city that lives and dies with the Canadiens. The pressure of playing for them and living up to a $3.9M-per-year contract has Shaw back to his former self.
It’s tough as a Blackhawks fan watching his frustration. It’s almost like everything Blackhawks coaches ever taught him has disappeared.
Maybe this is Shaw just trying to make some noise in his first year in Montreal. Who knows? But deep down, Blackhawks fans want the best for him and it hurts to watch him struggle.
It was so gratifying watching a naive player like Shaw grow up with the ‘Hawks and really hone his craft. He went from being passed up in the draft twice to a two-time Stanley Cup champion. We’re all happy he got rewarded with a long-term contract. Let’s hope he can find a way to contribute with more than just his fists.