Welcome to my weekly Blackhawks newsletter, creatively named “The Blackhawks Beat with Jay Zawaski.” We went with that because my name is Jay Zawaski. See? Clever. Every Tuesday, I’ll give you my observations on the week before, the week ahead, and fill you in on any interesting info I’m hearing along the way.
Eddie Olczyk returns … and nothing happens?
One of the biggest offseason stories for the Blackhawks was the departure of Eddie Olczyk, who left the team after contract negotiations fell apart. He joined the Seattle Kraken, and was back in the United Center with his new team on Sunday night. Surely, the Blackhawks would honor him with some sort of video tribute? Maybe a “Thank You, Eddie,” graphic with a camera pan to the Kraken booth?
Instead, nothing …
A source tells me that Olczyk did not “decline” an opportunity for acknowledgment, so that wasn’t the reason. In our interview with Danny Wirtz and Jaime Faulkner from last week, Faulkner, who said the organization was “blindsided by the decision,” went on to say Olczyk is “beloved by this organization, and will continue to be loved by this organization,” and referred to him as a “Blackhawk for life.”
Faulkner went on to say the fans, “will actually see him a couple of times through the season with some things we’ve got going on.”
To be continued?
We’ll find out.
The Blackhawks are 3-2, just as we all predicted
After losing their first two games of the season (5-2 to the Avalanche and 1-0 to the Golden Knights), we all thought the Blackhawks were who they thought we were, and the tank was fully on. Since then, the Blackhawks have won three games in a row, including a 5-4 comeback win Sunday against the Seattle Kraken.
So, are the Blackhawks too good?
I’m not quite ready to say that, yet.
Is Sam Lafferty really a point-per-game player? Is Jason Dickinson the same? No. At the same time, we can look at some of the teams currently behind the Blackhawks in the “Tank Standings,” like Tampa, Edmonton, and Minnesota and predict a bounce back from those teams.
It’s also important to keep in mind that at some point this season … somewhere around say, oh, March 3, this team will look very different. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Andrea Athanasiou, and many others could be dealt at the deadline for draft assets and/or prospects. Any unexpected standings jump will sink when those deals are made, if not before.
How do we square winning when tanking is the plan?
In our last three postgame shows, we’ve seen a lot of Blackhawks fans conflicted with how they’re feeling after these wins.
Last week, Faulkner told us they had heard, after the win over San Jose, that the plan was ruined after one win! We’re programmed to enjoy hockey wins. That’s why we love the game, right? So many have already submitted to a terrible season and were, in the words of our pal Cody Delmendo, “Ready to be hurt again.” Now the Blackhawks are winning, and in really entertaining fashion.
This team is likable. They play their asses off (most of the time) and have a lot of gritty players who reflect what Luke Richardson and Kyle Davidson want the ultimate vision of this team to look like.
I say enjoy the wins. Realistically speaking, they will be few and far between this season. Maybe not a few, and not as far between as we had thought, but they’ll still be a bottom-of-the-league team.
The Week Ahead for the Blackhawks
Say what you will about the Sharks, Red Wings, and Kraken but they’re not exactly the strongest teams in the NHL. Tonight, the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers, who are off to a 4-1-1 start. Thursday, it’s the Edmonton Oilers, who despite their slow start to the season, still have those Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl dudes on their team. After that, the Hawks head to Buffalo to face the somehow 4-1 Sabres, then back home Sunday to take on the Wild. If the Hawks take away points in two or three of those four games, I think we can begin the “too good” conversation.
Until then, I’m thinking things will still end up as planned.
By the way, if you’re looking to attend a Blackhawks game on this homestand, you can go see Matthew Tkachuk and the Panthers or Connor McDavid and the Oilers for under $20 via Gametime. Just sayin’.
Something to consider about the Adidas Reverse Retro jerseys…
Yes, we all had our fun last week, but I’ve been thinking (and hearing) about some things as it pertains to the Adidas Reverse Retro jerseys. In our conversation with Wirtz and Faulkner, both talked about long-term plans for alternate jerseys, including the all-blacks, which would be awesome. They clearly have some ideas in mind.
Why would the team want to waste one of their better design ideas on a jersey they’re only going to wear three or four times all season, and never wear again? They only wore last year’s version three times. Doesn’t it make sense to punt on a temporary design made by a company whose deal is expiring after next season? Just something to consider.