No, that’s not being such a shitfuck organization that they’ve basically gotten themselves erased from NHL history or PR. Watch any of these ads for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and you won’t see one highlight or shot of a Hawk. Even though they won the Cup three times, or were the most popular team for a near decade, or had stars that the league couldn’t wait to market. All gone. And deservedly so.
And no, it’s not having the least amount of regulation wins in the league, the same as Montreal — who were an absolute car-crash inside a dumpster fire all season — which means Chicago was, in every way that matters, the worst team in the league. The Habs had the excuse of Carey Price missing basically the whole season. The Hawks were built to win! All of that is impressive.
No, what we’re here to… well, not necessarily celebrate, because nothing about the Hawks should be celebrated no matter how you feel about them now, but to appreciate. Maybe even be wowed by. It’s not esteem to say something is impressive, even when a feat of incompetence by a clueless and deplorable outfit run by an owner who very well might not know where he his four-fifths of the day.
The Hawks went the entire season without a single power-play goal from a defenseman. That might not sound like a lot at first blush, but remember, no team had done this over 82 games. The last team to do it was the expansion Sabres in 1971, and that was a 78-game season. Maybe with an extra four games, Doug Barrie or Al Hamilton (legends in their own right I’m sure) could have found twine while on the man-advantage. We’ll never know. Also, again it’s important to stress that that was an expansion team, one of six as the league doubled in size, and those teams were seriously watered down. And again, the Hawks were built to win this season!
Really take some time to think about how hard this threads the needle. The Hawks had 245 power-play opportunities. That was good for 12th in the league! It’s not like they didn’t have a lot of time to work with, or significantly less than other teams. They had far more than most!
All of the Hawks D-men produced 64 shots over the whole season. Fifty-three of those were shared between Seth Jones and Erik Gustafsson, as the Hawks almost always just played with four forwards on the power-play. So they bear the brunt of this.
And Seth Jones is no balloon-handed fencepost. He’s not one of the league’s top-five puck movers, but he’s certainly in the next tier or two. He’s had a season of no power-play goals before in Columbus, but Zach Werenski quarterbacked that power-play. He was given the keys in Chicago. Every time he hopped over the boards on the No. 1 power-play unit, he was generally on the ice with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, two of the more offensively gifted players in the league.
And not once could he find an alley from 40 feet out? Not once did he sneak backdoor for a tap-in? Not once in those 33 shots on net (and how did he only get 33 power play shots over a whole season?), the puck couldn’t hit a penalty killer’s stick or knee or ass and bounce over a goalie’s shoulder? Not once could a goalie just whiff? Just have one sneak through him?
While Gustafssson is decidedly washed and should have been put out in the alley somewhere in November, of his 20 shots not one of them could have knuckled or dove in a way that a goalie just didn’t anticipate?
How bad was this design? How helpless were not one but two head coaches and the assistants to not figure out a way to just get more shots on net? For comparison’s sake, the Avs’ Cale Makar launched 56 shots on net on the power-play this year. 245 power plays, and the Hawks basically sent their d-men to face a brick wall every goddamn time. It must’ve been the most predictable power play ever (let me tell you, it was).
So here’s to you, Hawks. In a time when it’s hard to be uniquely bad, to do things so Cluseau-esque in a way that we haven’t seen before, you managed it. No sport is a high-low game, but we have to mark the lows when they’re this comically inept. Well done.