Good morning, frents!
The Cubs are playing in Cleveland on a Tuesday and Wednesday and there's no way that statement doesn't make a Cubs fan smile.
Stars 5, Hawks 4 (OT)
Cubs at Indians (5:10, Marquee)
Twins at Sox (7:10, NBCSCH)
Nets at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)
There go the Hawks
The 2021 Hawks put a ribbon on their strange season Monday night, almost pulling off a win in a game where they were outshot by the Stars 50-23.
Pat Foley almost got out of the year without going on a ramble he'd later apologize for, but that wasn't to be either.
And so with Jason Robertson's goal 4:30 in overtime, Dallas sent the Hawks to their waiting golf carts and fishing boats with a 24-25-7 record and a sixth-place finish in the Central Division.
If it weren't for the team being greased into last year's pandemic-expanded field, this would be the fourth straight season without a playoff game for Chicago hockey fans.
Whether they're any closer to getting back to anything resembling actual contention remains an open question.
This truncated 56-game season was always going to a purgatory of sorts for a franchise that publicly stated it was going into a rebuild.
It got even more so with the undisclosed illness that kept Jonathan Toews away from the team the entire year and the preseason injury that kept Kirby Dach in the trainers room for most of it.
That doesn't mean it wasn't an eventful season.
The Hawks opened their year with a four-game losing streak in Florida that saw the team get its doors blown off and made us think we were in for a total slog of a campaign.
But the team went on a run starting in February, winning 10 of 14 games to move comfortably in the division's fourth playoff spot.
Young players like Kevin Lankinen, Philipp Kurashev and Pius Suter all took starring turns. Patrick Kane was in the MVP conversation for a bit.
Alex DeBrincat, meanwhile, solidified his spot as a legit scorer in the league. His 32 goals put him on a 51-goal pace in a regular year and isn't it fun to imagine how he would've fit on any of the Cup teams?
Speaking of those title teams, they disappeared further into our rearview mirror. Corey Crawford wasn't re-signed while both Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw saw the writing on the medical charts and retired midseason. Their departures give the Hawks financial flexibility they haven't seen in more than a decade.
In the end, the Hawks weren't competitive against the teams they needed to be competitive against.
They posted a combined 7-19-6 record and -43 goal differential against the division's four playoff teams (Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville).
Their final record was bolstered by cleaning up against Detroit, Columbus and Dallas with a combined 17-6-1 record.
This offseason will be Stan Bowman's most important yet. A full season of Toews and Dach will rank as nice bonuses, but the young defense needs help and a solid two-way forward would be a nice present when free agency opens.
The goaltender situation remains tricky as Lankinen's late fade and Collin Delia's recent play showed that the team might not have answered any long-term questions at that position this season.
As for Jeremy Colliton? Like most Hawks fans, I've wandered away from the team's sales pitch that he'll be the next great steward. He received a two-year contract extension in January that will take him through the 2022-23 season. Yet three years into his tenure, we're still waiting to see why the Hawks' brass has so much confidence in him.
Fading late and losing seven of nine games to end the season certainly doesn't help his case any.
Colliton, though, is far from the only person responsible for the stasis we want the Hawks to break out of so badly. Returning to contention in the Western Conference is going to take a leap in performance from all corners of the organization.
Hopefully this weird year counted for at least a few jumps forward, even if they weren't as big as we would have liked.
- Michael Lombardi thinks Matt Nagy should start Justin Fields from Week 1. The Athletic
- "We kept everybody on full pay and benefits the whole time. We lost $4 million, but they needed the money more than I did.” The owner of the Iowa Cubs made the right move during the pandemic and it paid off for him as the team resumed play this week. Des Moines Register
- Elias Schuster on Coby White's future in Chicago. Bleacher Nation
- Chantel Jennings takes a long look at the title aspirations of the Sky. The Athletic
- How a home brewing kit turned in to a Northwest Side brewery. WBBM