By Rock Mamola–
What a rough season it has been for the Chicago Blackhawks.
This is surely not the way the Madhouse on Madison wanted to celebrate the organizations first Stanley Cup title in half of a century. Of course we all remember this past offseason where the Stanley Cup champs had to say goodbye to a little over 1/3 of their championship roster just to fit beneath the NHL’s salary cap. Then while adjusting to the new roster of talent, the team has consistently had to deal with injuries to key players. For example Marian Hossa has been injured this season in both actual games and practice as well. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were both shelved for weeks with injuries as well.
The latest news from the Blackhawks today is that Patrick Sharp is expected to miss the next several weeks with a knee injury, which Head Coach Joel Quenneville termed “not long term” however also said “could have been a Jordan Hendry.”
If you are not familiar…..Jordan Hendry tore his ACL on Feb. 27th and is expected to miss six months recovering from surgery.
So how serious is Sharp’s injury?
Coach Quenneville said today: “We hope to have him back before the end of the regular season. That’s where he’s at right now.” Just the fact that “Coach Q” says the word hope in his statement kills all my hope for playoff hockey in Chicago come April.
This is a huge blow to the Chicago Blackhawks who are now losing their most consistent player all season long. Their leading goal scorer and second on the team in points, Sharp provides a verteran presence on a team that is still really young. The loss of Sharp will also be felt on the Blackhawks power play (leads team in PP goals) and their penalty kill as well.
With the Blackhawks involved in a logjam for playoff positioning at 86 points (only one point from being out of a playoff spot) with ten games to play over the next three weeks, this seems like the death nail in this forgettable season on Madison. Of the ten games, seven of them are against teams that currently would be in the playoffs including three of those against the division leading Detroit Red Wings.
Losing arguably your best player in a time where every point is absolutely crucial puts more pressure on your other stars to step up their game. That means the Blackhawks will need even more production from Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane because of their lack of depth that has hurt them all season long.
Unfortunately this latest turn of events furthers my belief that this team will not make the playoffs this summer. Sometimes it just is not your year!
It is not a bad thing however that the Chicago Blackhawks miss the post season. The one thing the Blackhawks benefited from the most last season has bit them in the rear this year. Last season the Blackhawks were dealt a clean bill of health for the most part (Campbell/Hossa missed significant time). This year the bug has bitten star after star after star and now it has gotten to the best player on the roster.
Maybe this is a sign the Blackhawks were meant to stay home this summer. Maybe their “One Goal” in April should be “rest for next year”!
While missing the playoffs may seem like a huge step backwards in the direction of the organization, it could actually be a blessing. The Chicago Blackhawks had the shortest amount of time of every team to get ready for the coming season. Add on top the amount of roster turnover the team witnessed and how long it takes a team to gel, and you knew they were headed for disaster. This team needs a break not only to recuperate mentally, but physically too. Too often this year, the Blackhawks had a key player fall right when things start to get going.
This time Patrick Sharp is the victim…
End game on the 2010-2011 season for the Chicago Blackhawks.
John “Rock” Mamola is the Host of The Rock Report on WSCR 670AM The Score
Friday Nights at 10pm (cst)
You can follow Rock at twitter.com/rockmamola