No playoffs for Seabrook
Veteran defenseman has been in camp but doesn’t ‘feel comfortable’ after three surgeries in winter
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.”
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.”