Chicago Blackhawks: Hey, look over there

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks have been awfully quiet since February. And they probably hope you didn’t notice.

The Chicago Blackhawks used to use their summer Convention to show off recently attained wares, be they shiny silver chalices or new acquisitions, or both. Well, in reality they use the convention to bolster the accounts they’re so eager to tell us run drier than we think, but the former is at least the cover story.

The idea is to drum up at least a little buzz in a portion of the calendar when hockey, ice, and entrances through the United Center gates and out of the personal cold that Chicago winters can provide, are furthest from anyone’s mind.

This year it felt like the Hawks hoped the Convention would happen without anyone but the attendees noticing.

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The Hawks had no trophies to show off, nor did they have a playoff appearance to even champion in an opening montage (assuredly set to 90’s rock or Foo Fighters, but that’s really the same thing). That’s two straight conventions they haven’t had a playoff win to insert into said montage.

There was no big free agent signing or trade acquisition to put in front of the fans for the first time (and assuredly have those fans frighten said player to the point of utter confusion). Anyone getting really excited to see Cam Ward either lived in Raleigh in 2006, is warped in ways I don’t really want to think about, or most likely both. It’s been a Summer of Discontent on Madison St.

This is what happens at the nexus of some bad decisions, both in terms of contracts and trades resulting from them, and a lackluster free agent class in the summer to fix it. Just because there are free agents doesn’t mean you have to sign someone, otherwise you end up in the same bind the Hawks were in with Bryan Bickell and are in now with Brent Seabrook.

There was only one free agent who would have made a real difference for the Hawks, John Tavares, and they either chose to not even get into the room to talk to him or they weren’t invited; more likely the latter, which is a serious statement about their standing in the minds of the league right now. Certainly an odd juxtaposition from where they think they are, or at least want to tell everyone they are.

The trade market is also a bit barren, and the Hawks find themselves with not enough depth in the young player department where they can lose one to acquire something and not simply be running in place. While Justin Faulk would unquestionably help, if it cost the Hawks a Brandon Saad or Nick Schmaltz it would just be bailing out water from one compartment of the boat into another.

This is partially the result of having to unload both Stephen Johns and Teuvo Teravianen merely to unload a bad contract (Bickell) or overplaying a hand when you had a real player with something of value (Patrick Sharp, whom the Hawks refused to move for just draft picks and then had to include Johns just to get the rotting food that was Trevor Daley. At least that’s how Quenneville treated him). Had those two players still been here or reasonable facsimiles, that would create the depth the Hawks could trade from. But that’s gone now.

Overhanging it all is of course the one hope the Hawks have in Corey Crawford being healthy and the same old Corey Crawford again. But they can’t even get that right, with GM and coach saying all summer he should be ready for camp and Crawford himself, appearing out of whatever shadow world he’s been inhabiting since December for the first time, labeling that merely a hope. The Hawks can’t even get out a consistent message on their most important player. Feels like a real tight ship, doesn’t it?

All of it leads to the Hawks praying to remain in the dark, which shouldn’t be too hard amongst another Cubs playoff run and at the very least an interesting Bears team. Let’s throw in a late-season appearance from Eloy Jimenez that will send all Sox fans into rehab.

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This way, the Hawks don’t have to answer too many questions about their drying up seasons ticket waiting lists, their free-falling TV ratings, or their less and less full building that still get labeled sellouts. Because, no one is going to be particularly bothered to ask those questions, and more importantly for the Hawks, less people are going to be bothered to care to find out the answers.