Chicago Blackhawks Scratch Brent Seabrook, Recall Erik Gustafsson
By Colin Likas
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has (apparently) done the unthinkable today, healthy-scratching defenseman Brent Seabrook ahead of tonight’s game against Ottawa
Many, many Chicago Blackhawks fans this season have called for defenseman Brent Seabrook to sit a game here and there. With how slow and tired he looks, what could it hurt for a defensive unit that could hardly get any worse?
Well, we’re about to find out, it seems. According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus, Seabrook was among the last off the ice at today’s morning skate ahead of tonight’s game against Ottawa. This indicates the veteran blueliner is likely out for the affair.
Then, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed it.
Further confirming that was the news Erik Gustafsson had been recalled from Rockford, coinciding with Cody Franson clearing waivers and behind moved to the IceHogs.
Lazerus went on to tweet that Gustafsson is “on the way,” but considering tonight’s game is in Canada, it’d be tough to expect him to draw right in. As such, it appears Michal Kempny will pair with Connor Murphy in Seabrook’s spot.
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As a side note, it doesn’t appear Tomas Jurco will be playing tonight despite his call-up yesterday, which is … something, I guess. Q seems to be indicating this move, which saw John Hayden sent down, is more about getting Hayden more minutes than doing anything for/with Jurco.
A break for Seabrook
Q began seeing the writing on the wall with the aging Seabrook earlier this season, decreasing Seabrook’s minutes on the third pairing with Murphy. This was a good start to minimizing the danger Seabrook could cause on the ice, while also keeping him fresh to be at his best and contribute as well as he could.
But it hasn’t much mattered as time has gone on. Seabrook is still getting burned in the defensive zone, and his offense has barely existed of late. It was clearly time for Seabs to take a seat.
Naturally, this has led to a minor explosion on Twitter. There are those who are thrilled Seabrook is sitting, while others remind that he was a key cog in three championship runs. Both of these things are true, of course. There’s no mutual exclusivity here.
The bigger story is that Q actually pulled the trigger on benching Seabrook, even if it’s likely a brief sit. He did so with Patrick Sharp recently as well, meaning Q is starting to get away, at least a bit, from his “always back the veterans” approach that seems to permeate his lineups.
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Perhaps this is a disaster for the Blackhawks, but perhaps it also makes them better. There’s little doubt a rest will be good for Seabrook, if nothing else.