Brent Seabrook, scratched again by Blackhawks, vents about ‘tough situation’

An obviously fuming Seabrook said Tuesday in Nashville that he thinks he can “still be a good player for somebody.”

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Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will be a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Predators.

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will be a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Predators.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fifteen years into his NHL career and four years into an eight-year contract now regarded as the NHL’s worst, defenseman Brent Seabrook has reached a critical juncture with regard to his future with the Blackhawks.

He was benched for a second consecutive game Tuesday night against the Predators.

And he’s truly upset.

“I think I’ve been playing good,” Seabrook said early Tuesday afternoon in a tone that fell somewhere between somber and angry. “I’ve obviously been on for some goals against. Tough situation, but I feel like I’m skating better. I feel like I’ve got a lot to offer this team.

“I’m 34. You guys seem to want to write articles about my age and my speed. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer in this league and still be a good player for somebody.”

Those last two words — “for somebody” — might be the most consequential Seabrook has uttered publicly in years.

Unless Seabrook agrees to waive his no-movement clause, the Hawks will be saddled with his $6.875 million cap hit for the rest of this season as well as the next four. It’s an albatross of a deal that will not only limit general manager Stan Bowman’s ability to re-sign young stars but also require protection during the 2021 expansion draft, when the new Seattle franchise joins the NHL.

He had never made a reference about waiving that clause before. 

But Seabrook remains a member of the Hawks, and his situation must be monitored carefully.

He stayed on the ice with goalie Corey Crawford well after the morning skate. Crawford, another aging core member, also didn’t play against the Predators, the fourth game in the last five that he has missed.

“I’m just going to try to do my thing out here, skate today with Crow, try to work hard and get back in the lineup when I can, if I can,” Seabrook said.

Before Sunday, when Seabrook came out of the lineup and the Hawks promptly snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory against the Kings, he’d been scratched once in his career — in January 2018, when Joel Quenneville was still coach.

This is Jeremy Colliton’s first venture down this road.

Colliton — only three months older than Seabrook — attempted to downplay the commotion Sunday by saying Seabrook was out for rest purposes, plausible given it was the second half of a back-to-back. But on Tuesday, that excuse wasn’t going to fly.

“We feel he can help us win,” Colliton said. “He’s going to get an opportunity. There have been other guys who have sat out and come in and been really good, so he’ll get that chance, too.”

Asked how Seabrook is handling the situation, Colliton said he’s emphasizing “communication and being clear.” But Seabrook said he and Colliton hadn’t spoken since Sunday, when he was first informed of the scratch.

“There is no conversation; he just told me,” Seabrook said. “That’s it.”

The Hawks won’t return to Chicago until they play three more road games, starting with a back-to-back this weekend against the Kings and Ducks, so this potentially defining moment in Seabrook’s post-dynasty career won’t be easily defused.

He could return to the lineup for good. He could accept a new role as the team’s seventh defenseman. But based on his comments — he admitted that it’s “not fun sitting out” — that seems unlikely.

He could, however, become the defining storyline of the Hawks’ 2019-20 season.

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