Question 1: I think one has to blame all of the above to some degree, but there’s only so much a general manager or a head coach can do. It is the players who need to execute, and that’s simply not happening. Coach Quenneville has struggled to find answers, and to be honest I think his shelf life could well be over.
That said, if I had to choose a defining moment in recent Blackhawks history, it would be in the summer of 2014. It was at that time when Stan Bowman overestimated the future of the salary cap and extended the contracts of Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane to an unprecedented price tag of $10.5 million per year.
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Was this the beginning of the GM falling in love with his own players? More evidence of the same came the following summer when Mr. Bowman gifted an eight-year contract to Brent Seabrook for a whopping $55 million. This came at a time when many observed that Seabrook was slowing down.
The odds were that he would not be nearly the same player as the years passed. Now, two years later, he is struggling to keep up in a NHL that is getting younger and faster, and he has a contract that is very difficult to move.
The ‘Hawks’ GM has been trying to recover from these and other generous contacts ever since, and for the most part has done a pretty good patch job. But it seems to have finally caught up to Blackhawks, who will be hard pressed to make the playoffs this season, in my view.
Question 2: The list of underperformers is not a short one, but I think the play of Brent Seabrook is most worrisome for me. He has a lot of miles on him and it shows. With six years left on his contract, and a no-move clause, it is a huge concern.
Question 1: I am blaming Stan Bowman. Bowman is the one who traded away both Hammer and Panarin. He subtracted that quality on offense and defense and did not replace it.
Connor Murphy has been a bust thus far. Saad has been great but he is not Paanrin. Bowman is the one who gave an aging and slow Brent Seabrook a massive contract extension.
The Seabrook contract is going to look even worse in the years to come. I also blame him for the fact that he has mismanaged the salary cap. The ‘Hawks are in cap crunch and not able to add the depth they need because of bad contract extensions.
Question 2: Brent Seabrook scares me the most. The numbers tell me this is the worst season of his career. His Corsi-for percentage is 47.15, the lowest of his career. He is starting more in the offensive zone more than years past at 60 percent, and he only has one goal
Did I also mention he is tied for the team lead with 20 penalty minutes? That means he is getting beat because of his lack of speed and taking a penalty to compensate.
The sad thing is that this going to continue to get worse for the next four seasons. I honestly think that the coaching staff should start healthy-scratching Seabrook, not to send a message but because the Blackhawks are better on the ice without him.