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Andrew Shaw is at a crossroads after his latest concussion

Andrew Shaw is at a crossroads after his latest concussion

The Blackhawks forward has an important decision to make about his future.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk

Good morning, frents!

Next Friday seems like a good day for the first members-only mailbag. So while you're sitting inside and huddled under a blanket this weekend, why not send me a question or two? You can ask me anything from Chicago sports to beer to what my favorite expressway is. Just email me.

And if you haven't signed up yet? Click here to get yourself on the annual plan. Today is absolutely the last day to get 20 percent off by using the code "BIRTHDAY" at checkout.

Thursday's results
Blue Jackets 6, Hawks 5
Illinois at Michigan PPD

Tonight's schedule
Clippers at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)
Illinois at Nebraska (8, BTN)

Saturday
N’Western at Rutgers (4, BTN)
Providence at DePaul (7, FS1)
Blue Jackets at Hawks (7, NBCSCH)

Sunday
No games

The Physical Toll

A well-played hockey life doesn't come without its share of physical tolls, a fact we've been too often reminded of as members of the Hawks dynasty limp off the ice for good.

Marian Hossa is retired and back in Slovakia after a skin condition caused by wearing hockey equipment caused him to hang it up. Corey Crawford is done, too, the game's physical and mental wear-and-tear pushing him to call it quits just after getting to New Jersey. Brent Seabrook's body seems completely broken.

Then there's Andrew Shaw.

The Hawks forward is in concussion protocol again and the Hawks placed him on the injured reserve list on Thursday afternoon. The Athletic's Scott Powers reports that Shaw's injury occurred in the second period of Tuesday's game against Dallas when he was elbowed in the face.

Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton, whose own playing career was halted because of concussions, called the situation "terrible."

No one's sure what happens next, but everyone's rightly worried and retirement isn't off the table. The physical style that made Shaw an NHL mainstay has resulted in its share of head injuries and this is just the latest. His last concussion kept him off the ice for 13 months. He hasn't played a full season since 2015-2016.

Wrap your mind around this, too: Shaw is still just 29 years old.

The two-time Cup winner seems like he's been around forever and yet he won't celebrate his 30th birthday until July.

And yet it might already be over.

It probably should be over.

Whatever value Shaw has brought to this league has always come in his willingness to fight the battles that need fighting, to get in front of the net and maybe headbutt a loose puck or get a shinpad in a position to do the work in OT of a Stanley Cup Final game.

Transitioning his game into something requiring a lighter lift and lower-risk situations isn't on the table. Not now. Not then.

It's a scary situation. The hockey community has become much more aware of the toll of head injuries in the past decade. Daniel Carcillo's public grappling with the damage the game did to both his late friend Steve Montador and his own mind has been gripping to watch. Enforcer Derek Boogaard's 2011 death because of accidental overdose resulted in one of the saddest sports books I've ever read.

But adjusting to a life without ice time or the camaraderie of a locker room is difficult for even the most well-adjusted of athletes. Can Shaw summon that courage to call it a day?

Shaw will always be a Hawks legend. It's not too hard to picture him sitting behind a table signing autographs in the concourse of the UC 20 years from now. He's firmly in that second group of players that were instrumental in bringing two of the three Cups to Chicago. People care about him here.

And so it's good to read what Shaw said just last month as he was preparing to start this abbreviated season with the Hawks.

Shaw said his last time away from hockey prepared him for the eventuality of life without the sport. It makes me think he might make the right call here and call it a career for the sake of his own future and health.

“Obviously, it was tough being away from the game and the guys in the room,” Shaw said at the beginning of the year. “But to be able to spend that time with my family helped me push through this, helped me get better, let me see life without hockey and know that if anything happened to me, injury-wise, I am good. I’m OK without hockey. I’ll survive. Andrew Shaw is not hockey. I have a life outside of hockey. I have a family, I have friends. … It’s nice to feel that.”

Trivia

Who shot the puck that deflected off Shaw's shinpads for the gamewinner in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final?

Hawks cough one up late

The original takeaway from this game was going to be a nice one: Two rookies score their first NHL goals. Pius Suter adds another. Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and the rest of the Hawks stay hot.

Columbus had other plans, though, scoring two goals in the final three minutes to steal a regulation 6-5 win at the United Center.

  • Kevin Lankinen finally turned in a stinker. Six goals can happen, but a few of his angles on the scores definitely showed that he still needs more experience.
  • Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell's goals were the first time since 1989 that two Hawks rookies scored their first goals in the same game. Hawks legend Mario Doyon and some guy named Jeremy Roenick  were the goal scorers the last time it happened.

Cubs sign OF Jake Marisnick

The Kris Bryant to the Mets trade rumors are heating up and it could be a white-knuckle week ahead for Cubs fans.

Friday's signing isn't going to pacify anyone either. Marisnick is a value signing at $1 million and has hit .229 over eight seasons in the MLB with the Marlins, Astros and Mets. He'll be 30 by Opening Day.

  1. The Daytona 500 is on Sunday and Michael Jordan's 23XI car driven by Bubba Wallace will start sixth. Here's an article on how Wallace is dealing with MJ as his new boss. Tampa Bay Times
  2. How is Illinois hoops dealing with all the postponements and rescheduled games? (As someone who mistakenly included the MIchigan game in yesterday's schedule and can't keep up with DePaul, I have zero idea.) 24/7 Sports
  3. Ozzie Guillen talking about life in the minor leagues during the '80s is both entertaining and eye-opening. La Vida Baseball
  4. Joe Cowley makes the case for trading Zach LaVine. Sun-Times
  5. Kyle Koster with a Valentine's Day article on our old friends, Shae Peppler and Jordan Cornette. The Big Lead

    Trivia answer: Michal Rozsival took the shot and it bounced off Dave Bolland before hitting Shaw's shinpads and going past Tuukka Rask