Things already weren’t going great for the Blackhawks, and they got some more bad news Saturday.
Before practice at Fifth Third Arena, the team announced that Patrick Kane, Ryan Carpenter and Erik Gustafsson are in COVID-19 protocol. Players can be put in the protocol for many reasons, including an initial unconfirmed positive and contact tracing.
All three played in the 4-1 loss to the Canucks on Thursday.
Assistant coach Tomas Mitell, who missed the game because of the protocol, also was not at practice Saturday. Hawks coaches wore masks during the session, and media availability was held exclusively via Zoom.
Coach Jeremy Colliton said all three players are day-to-day and the team doesn’t know how the situation will develop. He declined to say whether the players are asymptomatic.
“For the most part, it’s out of our control,” Colliton said. “We’ll adjust as things develop here.”
The Hawks — who are completely vaccinated — are 0-4-1 and still searching for their first lead of the season, let alone their first victory. The start was not what they had hoped for after a busy summer of moves that were meant to propel them back into the playoffs.
Being without Kane would be another blow as they try to reverse a start that has led to questions about Colliton’s job security and the makeup of the roster. But if Kane isn’t available Sunday against the Red Wings, the Hawks will just have to get by.
“He’s a great player, but we line up with the guys that are available and it’s up to us to find a way to get it done,” Colliton said. “Overall, the last two games we’ve done a lot of good things that over time if you continue to do them, you’ll be rewarded for them. We haven’t got paid off early.
“We’ve given up the first goal, which is always a headwind. If you add up the six periods, a lot more good than bad and we have to keep building on it.”
Left wing Alex DeBrincat tried not to feel sorry for the Hawks in their current predicament: a bad start potentially made worse by losing three players, including one of the most explosive performers in the league.
“It is what it is,” DeBrincat said. “I think it’s going to happen. For right now, we’re just going to try to follow the protocols and see what happens. I think we obviously don’t want many more guys going in there, so we’re going to follow what the doctors are saying and do what we can.”
The Hawks’ practice Saturday came after a well-timed day off Friday. DeBrincat said it was good to settle down, reflect and get away from the game a little bit.
“We’ve got to come out with energy tomorrow,” DeBrincat said. “We’ve got to get a win here soon and feel good about our game. I think we’ve played a lot better the past two games than the first couple. We’ve still got a ways to go, but it’s getting better and hopefully a win’s coming.”
The Hawks would have a better chance at that first win with Kane in the lineup.
NOTE: The Hawks recalled forward Reese Johnson from the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Johnson has two points in three games with the team.