It’s on the Blackhawks players. That appears to be the central message coming from general manager Stan Bowman at the trade deadline Monday.
The players who are here now are good enough to win big later this season, no matter what they’ve done lately.
Or more like, no matter what they haven’t done lately.
The Hawks’ best players, such as they are, have been some of their worst over the last two months. No matter. It did not cost them their jobs here. They survived the trade deadline, but did so without the general manager making a bold move. The Hawks can can say they believe they’re a Stanley Cup contender, but their game since, I don’t know, right after Thanksgiving leaves that talk as lame as their power play.
Bowman traded a couple draft choices to Winnipeg for defenseman Johnny Oduya and got a draft pick for enforcer John Scott. Neither move is a game-changer. They kind of put the dead in deadline.
Oduya can skate some, but isn’t big by NHL standards, so he’s more likely to move the puck than move bodies. It’s an upgrade because he’s younger than Sean O’Donnell and more available than Steve Montador, but a second- and third-round draft pick in 2013 for a guy who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season is costly.
The Hawks have needed a second-line center and a top-four defenseman since training camp. Neither arrived by the trade deadline.
Vancouver and Nashville got better Monday. That’s what happens when you’re going well. That’s when you make strong moves. When you’re struggling, you’re desperate, you look it, and you try not to overpay, even if you might’ve for Oduya.
Hindsight likely will reveal that Bowman’s failure to improve the Hawks did not come Monday but earlier in the season when the Hawks were rolling.
Either way, what’s here is what the Hawks will go with, like it or not.
Bowman tried to spin his underwhelming and incomplete moves as showing faith in the players who were already here, saying they accomplished a good deal over the last few seasons.
After Dale Tallon’s roster won the Cup, last season’s Hawks with Bowman’s moves needed a miracle to get into the playoffs, and this season’s Hawks with Bowman’s moves --- and non-moves --- could be facing the same scenario.
Understand, Bowman is talking faith because GMs always stick up for guys they fail to deal and/or fail to help.
So, it’s on you, Patrick Kane. You, too, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. And Jonathan Toews, whenever.
It’s on you, even if you haven’t been enough this season, and it has been so obvious that even Bowman should’ve been able to see it.