Brent Seabrook hit the ice for practice Monday morning, just like he has virtually every day for the last 14 seasons. He’s still here, and he will be as long as he wants.
It’s logical that the Blackhawks will look to unload his contract before the NHL trade deadline Feb. 25, and there was a report over the weekend that he rebuffed them when asked if he would consider waiving his no-movement clause.
As Seabrook got ready to catch a flight for Tuesday’s game against the Oilers, he said he was surprised by all the commotion.
“I mean, I guess I’m the last guy to know,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t been approached or talked to about anything, so it’s news to me.”
Seabrook isn’t especially forthcoming, and the Hawks keep things buttoned up, so that isn’t the easiest thing to believe.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the story, and there’s no reason to doubt it. And Seabrook would surely be aware of any conversation the Hawks had with his representatives.
All of that being said, he didn’t rule out a move when asked how he would answer if general manager Stan Bowman inquired.
“I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “I guess I’ll deal with that when that day comes. But my focus right now is to try to help this team get into the playoffs. That’s what I’m thinking about.”
He repeated the “haven’t thought about it” line when asked if he could envision ever playing elsewhere. Duncan Keith, in a similar position, said last week he signed his extension intending to finish his career in Chicago.
Seabrook, 33, is the Hawks’ highest-paid player after Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. He carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6.9 million through 2023-24, which is from an eight-year, $55 million extension signed in 2015, and it contains a full no-movement clause through 2021-22. That means this season and the next three the Hawks can’t trade, waive or reassign Seabrook without his consent.
That changes in 2022-23, when Seabrook is required to submit five acceptable trade destinations. He must increase it to 10 the next season.
With the situation at a stalemate, both sides spoke glowingly of each other as though they’d never dream of parting.
It has been a rough few years, but Seabrook sounded optimistic about the Hawks turning it around. They’re second-to-last in the Western Conference but five points out of a wildcard spot.
Teammates insisted Seabrook’s contributions extend well beyond the ice — Kane called him the “heart and soul of the team” and argued that he’s underpaid — and coach Jeremy Colliton called him a pillar of the culture.
Seabrook averages 19:45 of ice time, ranking third among Hawks defenders, and has five goals and 15 assists. He also has a career-low 45.8 Corsi For percentage — how much the Hawks control the puck when he’s playing — and his plus/minus is among the team’s worst at minus-11.
“I can’t say enough about what he’s done for the organization,” Colliton said. “He’s a special, special individual.
“The standard needs to remain high no matter where we think we are. We’ve got to act like we’re an elite team. Guys who have been around can help do that.”
Few have been around as long, or for as much, as Seabrook.
The Hawks drafted him 14th overall in 2003, and he helped win three Stanley Cups. He has played more games for the team than anyone but Stan Mikita.
He has three overtime game-winners in the playoffs, including a legendary goal in 2013 to beat the Red Wings in Game 7 and another in Game 4 of the Final that year. He was an All-Star in 2015. He’s one of three Hawks defensemen to score 100 career goals.
That’s what landed him the big contract, and the Hawks will continue paying off that mountainous debt until he says otherwise.