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Blackhawks Mon Feb 28 2011

Hawks Continue Shuffling Deck Chairs

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks spent the weekend before the NHL trading deadline scrambling to find blue line depth after their decision to clear space by waiving Nick Boynton was followed almost immediately by a season-ending knee injury to Jordan Hendry. This afternoon, just before the deadline, they found a body, trading a second-round draft pick and little-used forward Ryan Potulny to Ottawa for defenseman Chris Campoli and a seventh-round pick.

It's a bit of a steep price for Campoli, a six-year veteran who carried a -3 plus/minus for the last-place Senators, but the Hawks were desperate for help as they flail about near the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race.

Yes, somehow, the reigning Stanley Cup champions are still clawing for a playoff berth as February turns to March. Their performance all season, led by a league-high four all-stars, has been nothing short of disappointing.

Sure, the Hawks took a major hit over the summer, losing several key members of the championship run. But fans still held high expectations for this year's team, never imagining that they'd be scrambling this late in the season.

Seeing the Blackhawks entering the playoffs anywhere below fifth place is like getting a C in a college 101 class. Yeah, you may have passed, but it sure as hell wasn't pretty.

That's not to say that there haven't been some shining spots 60 games into the season. Rookie goalie Corey Crawford is a contender for the Calder Trophy and is arguably the Hawks' MVP. The team also recently overcame coach Joel Quenneville's four-game absence because of a bleeding ulcer, with assistant coach Mike Haviland filling in seamlessly.

Plus, captains Jonathon Toews and Patrick Sharp are having phenomenal seasons. And although star forward Patrick Kane is having what some are calling an "off year," his numbers would be more than commendable for any other offensive player.

So maybe our expectations are just too high. Maybe fans should look at this more as a rebuilding year and less of a follow-up to last year's ultimate season. But with six weeks left in the regular season, it's simply hard to get excited.

Sure, it would be great if the Hawks made it into playoffs, but there seems to be a looming cloud of pessimism overhead that suggests they wouldn't make it very far anyway. With more and more empty seats showing up during home games, something tells me I'm not the only one seeing the glass as half empty.

 
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