Chicago Sun-Times

Lifeless of the party: Hawks down after losses


Tuesday night hardly felt like a good time for the Blackhawks to party.

They had lost their all-time greatest player, Patrick Kane, and three other well-liked teammates to trades within the previous 48 hours, then looked lifeless in a 4-1 loss to the lowly Coyotes.

But coach Luke Richardson, having scarcely managed to put together a full playing roster amid all the trade turmoil, injuries and illnesses, urged his players to have fun anyway. The team stayed overnight after the game in Arizona and needed some social time and laughter.

“The NHL is no place for losing, but we’re in a position right now where we have a lot of new players here,” Richardson said. “We need to almost not [exactly] start over but create some new bonds here and relationsh­ips and some chemistry we can move forward with.”

Forwards Joey Anderson, David Gust (who was put on waivers Wednesday), Brett Seney and Cole Guttman and defenseman Andreas Englund have all played fewer than 10 games for the Hawks this season.

It remains to be seen if Richardson’s party planning will make a difference in morale. The team seemed discourage­d in the immediate aftermath of the game.

“Your team becomes your family so much throughout the year,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “Knowing obviously guys were going to be traded, it still isn’t easy. [Hearing] the rumors, you still hope there’s a chance it won’t [happen]. You know it’s a business, but you can’t help [it].’’

Added forward Philipp Kurashev: “We knew it was going to happen, but when you see it actually is true, it’s pretty crazy. I never thought [Kane] would play for a different team.”

At least Murphy — now the longestten­ured Hawk currently playing (as in, excluding Jonathan Toews) — has plenty of memories from the latter half of the two cornerston­es’ Chicago tenures to look back upon fondly.

“[Kane and Toews] brightened up a lot of people’s lives in the city for so many years,” Murphy said. “Being around them, whether it’s out to dinner or even just walking around the city, the amount of people that [would] walk up and just thank them for being them, that speaks a little bit to the impact they have.”

Katchouk struggling

Forward Boris Katchouk hasn’t experience­d the second-year leap he was hoping for.

“I’m obviously struggling,” he said recently. “It’s so hard to gain confidence in this league. But every day I’m trying to come in with a positive attitude and try my best. It’s the least I can do. Sometimes the opportunit­y is there; sometimes it’s not. But that’s hockey.”

Katchouk wasn’t always viewed as a depth forward. He was a second-round pick by the Lightning in 2016 and had 34 points in 29 games for Syracuse in the 2021 AHL season.

He has only 13 points in 95 NHL games the last two seasons, including six points in 36 games this season. Katchouk is mired in a 10-game drought. He also has been a healthy scratch 17 times and has averaged barely 10 minutes of ice time when in the lineup.

Asked if his low morale is connected to his limited playing time, he admitted he “can’t say it’s not.”

“But I’m still getting the opportunit­y to get on the ice,” he said. “I still have to show what I can do. It doesn’t matter how many minutes you get or anything.”

 ?? MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY IMAGES ?? Hawks coach Luke Richardson tried to boost the team’s spirits after all the trades and the loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday.
MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY IMAGES Hawks coach Luke Richardson tried to boost the team’s spirits after all the trades and the loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday.

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