The NHL handed down the Duncan Keith punishment for his attempt to decapitate Charlie Coyle, and it’s going to hurt as he’ll miss the first game of the playoffs. The Hawks are now effectively going into their first series down 0-1. Arguments can be made for whether this was too lenient or not, but the NHL clearly wants to set at least some precedent to show that smashing another player’s face with your stick isn’t tolerated. At the same time, everyone on the business end of the NHL is collectively holding their breath, hoping the Hawks and their TV ratings make it out of the first round.
In past seasons, with a Hawks team that had depth on the blue line this may have not been that big of an issue. But in 2016, without Duncan Keith in the lineup Michael Rozsival is arguably your third best defender. Yikes. Does that mean Svedberg might have to be in the lineup for a playoff game? Just puked a little. That just scratches the surface of the Hawks’ on-ice problems as of late. The Toews line is just not syncing up with Hossa and Ladd on the wings, and Q clearly addressed that as the lines were shaken up in practice. Kane isn’t scoring and as a result Panarin isn’t scoring. Anisimov seems to have disappeared, and he doesn’t have the track record to suggest it’s going to improve in the playoffs.
Then we move to the off-ice problems of the franchise as a whole. Besides Keith, reports have surfaced saying that Corey Crawford not only has a head injury but might possibly be experiencing Bryan Bickell-like vertigo symptoms as well. Let’s be clear, without Crawford the Hawks aren’t winning a Cup (and sadly that makes the Ladd trade a bust). Then three days ago came this gem came from Hawks brass announcing the reinstatement of Garrett Ross because his case was dropped after being charged with uploading nudies on the web without consent. However, it was only dropped because he was in a different state at the time and that state isn’t pursuing legal action. So to recap, it’s like the Hawks have been ignoring everything except “Ross got charged” and “Ross charges dropped”. Obviously that’s not the case because they know everything that happens in the organization, though you wouldn’t think so after Ross continued to play for Rockford after his initial arrest. Swing and a miss, Hawks.
Soooooo not awesome the past few weeks. This is probably the most negativity the franchise has faced on and off the ice simultaneously since this group of talent has been playing. The Keith decision is just the latest in a series of bad moves by players and front office alike. He has now officially put his team in an extremely shitty situation. It’s hard the imagine one game isn’t the difference in the Hawks’ first series. It is the playoffs, after all.