ST. LOUIS — Player by player, all the way down the roster, the Blackhawks’ atrocious start is weighing emotionally on everyone.
After an improved but ultimately fruitless effort Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the Blues, the Hawks will finish October having lost all nine games in the month’s schedule. That’s officially the worst start to a season in franchise history, topping their eight-game opening winless streaks in 1953 and 1999.
Defenseman Jake McCabe is “extremely” tired of losing, having jumped from six consecutive losing seasons with the Sabres to now this current mess with the Hawks — while the Sabres roar out to a shocking 5-1-1 start.
“Frankly, each guy has to look at themselves in the mirror,” McCabe said. “What do we have to do better, to a man? And [then] we have to bring that... Obviously, we’re lacking confidence right now from this start.”
Forward Alex DeBrincat didn’t need long to estimate he has “probably not” been through any stretch like this before in his hockey career, even as a kid.
“This is tough,” he said. “It’s very frustrating. We know we have a way better team than we’ve showed. We’ve just got to find a way to muster up the energy to get through it.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury looked most emotionally taxed of all Saturday, with his spectacular 36-save effort — by far the best of his Hawks tenure to date — proving not enough to break the drought. The one goal he did concede, a third-period power-play deflection credited to Torey Krug, still eating at him afterward.
“Krug was coming in, opened his blade, looked like he was going to pass [the puck] in front, and brought it back,” Fleury said. “I was leaning toward the middle a little, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Hawks remain without several key players and assistant coaches, as Patrick Kane and the rest of the group in COVID-19 protocol are still missing, and Tyler Johnson was ruled out Saturday with neck soreness.
But that small excuse isn’t making this futility any easier to swallow.
“We’re here to win,” DeBrincat added. “We can say, ‘We played well,’ all we want. But if we’re not winning, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Bettman meets with Beach
Kyle Beach, the former Blackhawks player allegedly sexually assaulted in 2010, met Saturday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Association director Donald Fehr.
Beach and Bettman discussed ways the NHL can improve its sexual abuse resources moving forward after Bettman apologized for the league’s failure to protect Beach from former Hawks video coach Brad Aldrich, the AP reported.
Beach and Fehr, meanwhile, discussed potential needed modifications in the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program, the AP reported.
Fehr has come under fire this week for not taking action in 2010 even though the NHLPA was allegedly notified several times of Aldrich’s actions, casting the 73-year-old’s future as the association’s leader into question.
Phillips debuts early
By playing 11:07 on Friday and 8:21 on Saturday, Hawks defenseman Isaak Phillips made history as the first Team Jamaica hockey alumnus to appear in the NHL.
Phillips’ rise has been incredibly fast as a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft, barely over a year ago. He became just the 13th player from that draft class to debut, and 11 of the first 12 were picked in the top 26. Phillips, by comparison, was picked 141st.