The Chicago Blackhawks have been on the road to improvement since the start of the 2018-19 season, despite not being able to count on star goalie Corey Crawford, who for the moment remains sidelined with post-concussion symptoms. Despite a 3-0-2 record, the Hawks are still looking for the perfect plan to return as one serious Stanley Cup contender, and on Tuesday, it has been revealed that head coach Joel Quenneville could pull a controversial move to keep players on their toes ahead of Thursday night's contest against the Arizona Coyotes.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad could be a healthy scratch from their upcoming game against the Coyotes. While the shock does not come from Saad's performance itself, seeing that the forward has been struggling, it is his salary that makes Quenneville's move hard to swallow.
During practice on Monday, the Sun-Times noticed that Saad and Andreas Martinsen participated while clad in ‘‘healthy scratch’’ white.
The question: Will Saad be in or out of the lineup Thursday against the Coyotes?‘‘We’ll see,’’ Quenneville replied cryptically.
In the Hawks’ 4-3 victory Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, rookie Alexandre Fortin took over for Saad on the second line, and the latter ended up on the fourth with Marcus Kruger and David Kampf. Saad played about only 10 minutes and didn’t play at all in overtime.
‘‘Nothing was said to me about a lineup change or anything like that,’’ Saad said to the Sun-Times. ‘‘You just come in, you see your jersey, you go out there and play.’’
However, fans will surely notice that this means $6 million of the Hawks' tight cap space will be sitting in the press box. This is surely something that is hard to swallow for the fan base, who expects way more this season than what Chicago managed to accomplish last season.
‘‘[Saad’s] mindset is what it is,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘And I just think that whether it’s urgency or passion, I think coming up with more loose pucks in those areas is probably going to be the difference.’’
Many wonder how Saad will react to the demotion and this unexpected low, seeing that he took part in all 82 games with the Hawks last season, all 82 with the Blue Jackets the season before and all 82 in 2014-15, the last season of his first stint with the Hawks.
‘‘Things aren’t always going to go your way, but to be out of the lineup was a surprise today,’’ Saad said. ‘‘But it is what it is.’’
It is what it is...