If the Chicago Blackhawks would’ve fallen behind 2-0 in the first period one year ago, the game would’ve been over. Now, with help from coach Jeremy Colliton, that isn’t the case anymore.
Losing isn’t easy. When you lose repeatedly like the Chicago Blackhawks did last year and this year, it does more than just drop you back in the standings. When you lose a lot, the expectation coming into games is that you simply will not win.
Instead of fighting back or finding ways to win, teams seem to find new ways to lose. A losing culture is one that’s easy to form and hard to shake. When talking to John Dietz of the Daily Herald, Connor Murphy addressed just that.
"“Last year when we built up so many losses, guys (lost) confidence that the game’s going to go the right way,” said Murphy on Thursday. “As soon as it (started) to turn the wrong way, we didn’t have as much of a push to get better.”"
Though the Chicago Blackhawks might not come out and say it directly, a losing culture invested itself deep in their locker room. For new guys it’s somewhat reasonable given their lack of experience.
After all, the Blackhawks have only four players left on their roster from the 2010 Stanley Cup run. The 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks are not the dominant “we can beat anyone” Blackhawks we’ve seen in the past.
This team is quite different —and quite younger — now than it was then.
Fortunately, coach Jeremy Colliton seems to realize that. Somehow, within the past month or so the Blackhawks have transformed into a team that no longer lies down at the first sign of a challenge.
If Thursday night’s game was played in December the ‘Hawks would’ve never stood a chance.
They played a horrible first period and found themselves trailing 2-0. Back in December, the game would’ve been over.
Instead, the Blackhawks fought hard to get the next goal and they got it.
And the next one. And the next one. And the next one.
Oh, and then one more.
"“We all kind of learned from what we went through last year where teams could feel when they took the wind out of our sails,” said Jonathan Toews, who scored his 26th goal of the season to put the Blackhawks ahead 3-2 last night, to John Dietz. “We would just let up and fall apart in games, even if we were in the game for the majority of that night.”"
This team finally looks like a group of guys who believe in themselves and Colliton deserves a ton of credit for that. He entered a broken locker room filled with a team that looked all but washed up earlier this season. Now, they’ve learned from their experiences and no longer collapse when it counts.
They fight. They battle. They don’t just tell the media they believe in themselves until the message becomes stale. Rather, their actions on the ice speak for them.
"“You look at all teams down the line, it’s so tight in this league,” said Brandon Saad to Dietz. “But the good teams always believe and always battle back and always have that confidence.”"
The Chicago Blackhawks, who are still below .500 and are 2 points out of a playoff spot, believe in themselves again.
Even if the playoff birth everyone so desperately wants doesn’t happen, Blackhawks fans can hold their heads high knowing that this team took a big step forward this season.
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Regardless of how this year ends, the young players in the Blackhawks locker room desperately needed to develop the mentality that they truly can beat anyone in the league. Credit to coach C for making it happen.
Let’s just hope they turn that belief into a reality on the ice, too.