That was not the most ideal road trip for the Chicago Blackhawks on so many levels.
The team comes out with a 0-3-0 record putting their losing streak to 5 games.
By now, the players are searching for answers. For those who have been around for a few years, this is becoming a frustrating and worn out problem that they've been trying to re-correct on the ice. The overall talent and vibe of this team is just not working.
The coaches continue to tweak and adjust but nothing is working – especially the powerplay.
The GM and other executives are on the hook for the team they have constructed and might have been a little too excited after a solid start. This team on paper after a lackluster offseason did not look deep enough to compete in a crazy competitive Central Division.
The Blackhawks now sit at 6-6-3, good enough for 6th in the division. St. Louis sits at just 11 points behind them, however, they are starting to look a little better as of late.
So, what's next?
After the threats of change was issued by team owner Rocky Wirtz this offseason, stating that they won't hesitate to make tough decisions by Christmas time. I'm afraid those decisions might become knee-jerk ones if this losing trend continues.
The LA Kings just fired John Stevens and put Willie Desjardins in his place as the interim coach. Could Joel Quenneville be the next coach fired? If he is, who takes over at the helm for this team?
There will be a mixed reaction with this next comment, but I feel like firing Quenneville is just kicking the can down the road a little further. Stan Bowman had a very unimpressive offseason as I've mentioned for months now. He did very little to upgrade this team and it's unfortunate now that the "core" has bounced back and have had very little to work with.
If/when Joel eventually goes, if it is in this season, I think starting from scratch would be the smartest decision, meaning if Joel goes, maybe Stan should join him. This team is in desperate need of some new direction and getting rid of Coach Q isn't going to salvage this year.
If Rocky really wants to pull the trigger on a larger shift back to contention (eventually) with this team, I think he will need to make multiple, difficult decisions.
Before I go any further, I want to say that yes… I know we're only a month into the season, but I think we can all see that this team is going to struggle to even make the playoffs this year.
They are years away from contending for a Stanley Cup in my opinion, however, with the right moves in today's NHL, they could shoot back up to a threat in the Western Conference if the right moves are made.
Could a new GM/coach tandem get to work in-season with a fresh outlook and start to shift this team? I think they could.
Stan Bowman has to be held accountable for (only) signing Cam Ward, Brandon Manning, Chris Kunitz on free agency. Then locking in Brandon Davidson from a PTO. These moves have clearly not paid off.
What else could he have done? Well, there's 6.9M locked into those players above, so there was something that could have been done there.
There would have been even more money to be spent if Stan could have moved Marian Hossa's contract sooner. By moving Vinnie Hinostroza with that contract and not used that to sign or trade for anyone, this is viewed as a huge miss as well.
I'm not all about just pointing the finger at people when things are going poorly. I am a problem solver and try to be an eternal optimist.
Is this Hawks season wasted already? Absolutely not. They are only 2 points out of a wild card spot and it was just a couple weeks ago that it looked like they may surprise some critics this year.
I will remain strong though that this team is a bubble team at best and if they are thinking beyond the short term of this season, Rocky and Co. may be forced to make some unpopular decisions in the next month and a half to kickstart this franchise out of the bubble of mediocrity.
Hold on, this could get interesting here real soon.
I think you see the Hawks reach to Rockford first to attempt to get some energy back into this team. I'm not saying that calling up Dylan Sikura and/or Victor Ejdsell will change the fortunes of this team in the next week, but knowing this team, I can see that being a move that they make as a first step.
The Hawks don't play again until Thursday at home vs. Carolina. Then they hit the road for games against the Flyers and the Hurricanes again.
Corey Crawford said there's still time to turn it around and all this team needs are a couple tweaks. Well, they better tweak quickly and efficiently because in today's NHL and in the division they are in, they might be on the outside looking in for a better portion of this season.
Next up is my Nick Schmaltz take on where he fits in the future.
See ya out there,