No playoffs for Seabrook

Vet­eran de­fense­man has been in camp but doesn’t ‘feel com­fort­able’ af­ter three surg­eries in win­ter

Chicago Sun-Times - - BLACKHAWKS BEAT - BY BEN POPE BPOPE@SUN­TIMES.COM @BENPOPECST

Brent Seabrook, speak­ing for the first time since his tri­fecta of surg­eries last win­ter, said Fri­day that he won’t play in the playoffs with the Black­hawks.

“I’m not go­ing,” he said. “I just don’t feel com­fort­able yet, as com­fort­able as I want to feel on the ice.”

The 35-year-old de­fense­man has been a full par­tic­i­pant in camp over the last two weeks, mak­ing a fast, in­spi­ra­tional re­turn af­ter un­der­go­ing right shoul­der, right hip and left hip surg­eries in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.

But Seabrook hasn’t played in more than seven months. He said he en­tered camp ex­pect­ing to play, but af­ter go­ing through it, he wants to fo­cus his at­ten­tion on pre­par­ing for 2020-21.

“I’m ex­cited with the way it went,” Seabrook said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to train­ing hard and fig­ur­ing out the last few things that I need to fig­ure out and be ready for next year.”

Seabrook’s an­nounce­ment on his play­off sta­tus led off what be­came a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view on both his past and fu­ture with the Hawks. He said his surg­eries last win­ter came af­ter many years of pain and dis­com­fort that he didn’t pub­licly ac­knowl­edge.

The shoul­der ail­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, traced back to in­juries suf­fered in the 2004 world ju­nior cham­pi­onships and his 2005-06 NHL rookie sea­son. He un­der­went an op­er­a­tion then with Dr. Michael Terry, the Hawks’ head physi­cian, to strengthen his shoul­der and give it an ex­pected 10-year win­dow.

“We ended up get­ting 15 out of it, but it pro­gres­sively got worse,” Seabrook said. “I haven’t been able to throw a base­ball or a foot­ball for a long time. Sleep­ing on it has been tough. [We] did an MRI [exam], and there were def­i­nitely some is­sues.”

Terry ended up fix­ing one of two ar­eas of con­cern iden­ti­fied on the MRI exam and left the other as is.

Seabrook’s hip surg­eries ap­par­ently caused the back pain he has felt for the last five to 10 years. That even af­fected ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties as sim­ple as sit­ting on the toi­let. Now he feels “in­cred­i­ble.”

“It’s been re­ally weird the last two or three months, when I get out of my bed, re­mem­ber­ing how hard it was to do cer­tain things,” he said. “Get­ting down and help­ing my kids tie their shoes has been nice. Ty­ing my own shoes has been nice.”

With his body in its best con­di­tion in a decade, Seabrook has redi­rected his thoughts to­ward the fu­ture.

Seabrook’s re­la­tion­ship with Hawks coach Jeremy Col­li­ton was strained last fall when Col­li­ton scratched Seabrook three times. Col­li­ton and Seabrook had a long con­ver­sa­tion on the ice at the end of prac­tice Fri­day, but both of their tones and com­ments when asked about each other sug­gested some of that schism still ex­ists.

Be­tween that ten­sion and Seabrook’s mas­sive con­tract, which is only wors­en­ing the Hawks’ cap sit­u­a­tion, it sounded as if the three-time Cup win­ner has had sec­ond thoughts about whether he’ll fin­ish his ca­reer in Chicago.

“I don’t know where my place is here with the Black­hawks,” he said. “That’s a ques­tion for Stan [Bowman] and Jeremy. As far as the NHL goes, I know that I can be an im­pact player on a hockey club.”

“I still think that I’m one of the best de­fense­men in this locker room, and if given the chance and given the op­por­tu­ni­ties that some guys get, then I would def­i­nitely be able to live up to those ex­pec­ta­tions and ex­ceed them. I’ve done it my whole ca­reer.”

“A lot of peo­ple want to make a lot of my con­tract and my age. If [I’m] given the op­por­tu­nity and feel­ing like a big part of the team, you’ll get ev­ery­thing I’ve got. And I’ve got lots left.”

KAMIL KRZACZYNSK­I/AP

Brent Seabrook, 35, told the Black­hawks that he will not par­tic­i­pate in the playoffs. “I’m not go­ing,” Seabrook said. “I just don’t feel com­fort­able yet, as com­fort­able as I want to feel on the ice.”

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