It appears Chicago Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman will be held out of tonight’s game against Tampa Bay, the latest of coach Joel Quenneville‘s inconsistent “lessons”
Saturday’s 7-0 loss by the Chicago Blackhawks against the Florida Panthers was essentially a game you can throw out the window. The Blackhawks, who haven’t done a whole lot of losing since Feb. 1, were due for a major-league clunker.
Considering they haven’t played terribly well in any of their last four games, the Blackhawks were even more likely to have a performance like this crop up. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t analyze reasons why this happened.
Chief among them was the Blackhawks committing a ton of penalties. Chicago recorded 10 penalties totaling 34 minutes. While 12 of those minutes were the result of garbage-time fights and a game misconduct, some of the penalties came when the Blackhawks still had a fighting shot at winning.
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Among them: Ryan Hartman committing a hooking penalty and following it up with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for jawing to the officials. As a result, it appears Hartman is being taught a “lesson” by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
Hartman appears to be scratched tonight
According to morning skate lines and a subsequent report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus, Hartman looks like to be healthy scratched from tonight’s game against Tampa Bay. It would be Hartman’s first time out of the lineup since mid-November.
Quenneville was quoted this morning as saying, “Message, or whatever, I think that sometimes you’ve got to learn how you handle certain situations.”
Blackhawks fans are well aware of Coach Q’s penchant for trying to teach younger players during the course of a season. Lazerus reminded us of such a situation in the above-linked story:
"Quenneville has sent such late-season messages before, not-so-subtle reminders that with the playoffs just around the corner, everyone has to be at the top of their game. Brandon Saad was benched for a game during the last week of the 2013-14 season while dealing with a slump."
Now, I’m not here to complain about Q benching Hartman, should he follow through on the threat tonight. While the Blackhawks could certainly use points in every remaining regular-season game in order to wrap up home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs, they’re in good enough shape to make adjustments like this.
Hartman can’t be doing silly things like this, especially during the playoffs. As Lazerus noted, “After sitting just two penalty minutes in his first 24 games, Hartman has racked up 66 penalty minutes in his last 46 games.” Hartman has become a key player in the lineup, and the Blackhawks can’t afford to have him off the ice continually down the stretch.
That being said, it’s also no secret Coach Q’s “lessons” tend to be quite a bit inconsistent.
Coach’s Q’s “lessons” need to be team-wide
Of course, there are times when Q’s lessons have to wait. For example, if Artemi Panarin was late to get back on a play or committed a silly penalty and the Blackhawks were down a goal late in a postseason game, Q would need him on the ice instead of on the bench for a “lesson.”
There are good and bad times for these “lessons,” and as far as this teaching moment for Hartman, this really isn’t an awful time.
However, Q has a lot of trouble expanding his “lessons” to the entire roster. We know guys like Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook are very likely going to be immune from this treatment, which can be frustrating at times but is generally understood.
But why, then, was Andrew Shaw not benched for shouting a homophobic slur at a referee in last season’s playoffs? Sure, he issued a public apology, but he wasn’t held out of a game — and it’s not as though he was lighting the world on fire in last season’s playoffs.
I’m guessing Hartman didn’t yell anything as offensive as what Shaw did last season, yet Hartman is getting benched. Meanwhile, Shaw got off scot-free as far as on-ice action was concerned. As much as some fans appreciated Shaw, he wasn’t Toews or Kane — he shouldn’t have been immune from “lessons.”
What about Trevor van Riemsdyk? This guy makes mistakes every game, yet never gets any sort of benching for “lessons.” In fact, he seems to get more ice time the more mistakes he makes. I guarantee TVR is not as useful to the Blackhawks as Hartman is now or Saad was back then.
How about any of the “grit” guys like John Scott, Brandon Bollig and Brandon Mashinter? Didn’t seem like you could get them off the ice no matter how many times they were caught out of position trying to send people into the fifth row.
I don’t expect Q to go about changing his ways now, but Hartman’s apparent benching is just the latest example of the coach’s inability to be consistent with his “lessons.” I think this was an appropriate time for Q to get in Hartman’s ear, but I wish he’d be equal about it.