Saturday, May 28, 2022

Blackhawks Breaking The Wrong Records To Open 2021-22 Season


The Chicago Blackhawks lost their sixth straight game to open up the 2021-22 regular season on Sunday, falling 6-3 to the long-time rival Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Now sporting an 0-5-1 record, the Hawks are off to their worst start since way back in 1999-2000 when they opened up by going 0-4-4. But wait, there’s more!

Blackhawks Make History

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks were on the wrong end of a couple of different streaks on Sunday. First, by failing to grab a lead at any point for the SIXTH consecutive game, the Blackhawks now officially hold the NHL record for the longest stretch without holding a lead to begin an NHL season. The previous record was held by the 2000-01 Washington Capitals, who went 350:27 without the lead to open up their campaign. But now, the record belongs to the 2021-22 Chicago Blackhawks at 360:57. Lovely.

After scoring a season-high two (!!) goals at even-strength on Sunday, the Blackhawks are up to a whopping five on the season. On the flip side, the Hawks defense has now surrendered 22 goals at even strength after allowing five to Detroit. This is where the problems stem from. The Blackhawks haven’t been able to muster up anything offensively at 5-on-5, and the defense hasn’t been able to shut anyone down. Bad combination.

The Blackhawks have also allowed their opponent to open up the scoring in all six games so far and have yet to respond with their backs against the wall. To go six games without netting a lead is truly mind-boggling and feels almost impossible.

Sellout Streak Ends

Dating back to the 2008-09 season, the Chicago Blackhawks (technically) had a sell-out streak at the United Center stretching 535 games. Over 12 years of consecutive sellouts. However, that streak came to an end on Sunday in the loss to the Red Wings, which seemed only fitting. Attendance at the United Center was rumored to be a worry for the Blackhawks’ front office heading into the year, and now it seems their worst fear has come true.

Clearly, Blackhawks fans are fed up with this start. Especially after major moves were made by the front office this past summer. There weren’t the usual “DE-TROIT SUCKS!” chants echoing through the UC on Sunday. Instead, there were A LOT of boo’s, chants of “FIRE COLLITON”, and even the dreaded “LET’S GO RED WINGS”. If that doesn’t get the message through to the organization, then I don’t know what will.

What’s Next?

Well, the Blackhawks have a series of crucial questions that they need to answer soon. First, how long will they let the fanbase call for Jeremy Colliton’s job before enough is enough? We’re only six games into the season here, but it has been roughly the worst six-game stretch imaginable. No wins, no leads… no progress. As reported last week by TSN’s Elliotte Friedman, the Blackhawks front office still has faith in Colliton and does not want to fire him. However, if the season continues down this same path, then the fans may not give the organization a choice. Either Colliton goes, or the attendance numbers continue to dip as the losses pile up.

Second, if the Blackhawks do decide to let Colliton go before the season’s end, then that strikes up the question of what do to about his replacement. At the moment, several big-name former head coaches are available on the market. Claude Julien, Bruce Boudreau, and John Tortorella are the three most prominent names. But if the Blackhawks want to bring in either of those three to replace Colliton, then that is going to take some serious coin. The organization would still have to pay out the remainder of Colliton’s contract as well. Are the Blackhawks willing to spend that type of money in the midst of the pandemic? This tough situation could lead to assistant coach Marc Crawford becoming the interim coach until the end of the season. That’s the smarter plan financially IF the Hawks decide to let Colliton go.

Last, what is to be done with Stan Bowman? According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan during her In The Crease Podcast, the decision to fire Colliton WILL NOT be up to Bowman and instead will be left to the ownership group. Kaplan also stated that Bowman loves Colliton and does not believe there needs to be a change. Riiiiiight. This decision puts CEO Danny Wirtz in a bit of a predicament. Wirtz can either continue to trust Bowman’s process, or he has to go against the guy that he just recently gave a promotion to. Although, once again, Wirtz may not have a choice. If Colliton gets fired at any point, and Bowman survives, then the fan base will not be satisfied. They KNOW this was Bowman’s screw-up and should not be pinned solely on Colliton.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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