Adam Gaudette’s largely fruitless tenure with the Blackhawks might be nearing its end.
The Hawks put Gaudette on waivers Friday, having scratched him six consecutive games since his most recent appearance Nov. 9. They’ll learn Saturday whether he was claimed by another team.
Gaudette, 25, entered the season with high expectations after getting four points in seven appearances late last season and adding 15 to 20 pounds of muscle this summer. But he never found — or was never allowed to find, depending on the viewpoint — his niche.
He has only two points in eight games while averaging a career-low 10:31 of ice time.
Much like Dylan Strome, who also was scratched Friday against the Blues, Gaudette has the skills to be a top-six scorer but has struggled to show the necessary defensive ability and physicality to earn one of the more available bottom-six grinder roles.
“There wasn’t really room for him right now to get him in playing,” interim coach Derek King said. “And he needs to play. In a perfect world, he slips through waivers, goes down to Rockford and plays a bunch of games and gets that feeling of playing a game again. Then when we need somebody, I know he’s down there.
“Obviously, he probably wants to get picked up.”
The Hawks packed 19,681 fans into the United Center for their overtime victory Friday, falling just 26 short of a sellout.
It was their largest crowd since the sellout streak ended Oct. 24 and their fifth consecutive home game with an increase in attendance.
After the perfect storm of bad news — the sexual-assault scandal and the awful on-ice start — attendance tanked to 15,946 on Nov. 1, the Hawks’ smallest crowd since 2008. But fans have returned in larger numbers as November has progressed. Their average attendance is 18,296 through 10 home games.
Blackhawks attendance today: 19,681— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) November 26, 2021
That's 36 people shy of a sellout. Largest crowd since the streak ended. Updated graph for this season: pic.twitter.com/3KQujPZiBA
No Lightning grudges
One thing connects Yanni Gourde, whom Alex DeBrincat fought in the Hawks-Kraken game to start the most recent road trip, and Blake Coleman, whom Kirby Dach fought in the Hawks-Flames game that ended that trip.
Both were members of last season’s Lightning, whom the Hawks had plenty of tension with during their eight-game 2021 season series.
But DeBrincat’s fight also was prompted by Gourde’s slash on Patrick Kane, and Dach’s fight was prompted by Coleman’s hit on DeBrincat. They insist those provocations were the sole reasons for the surprising bouts.
“They were two separate plays,” Dach said.
Conspiracy theories aside, Dach said he rather enjoyed beating up Coleman in the first fight of his NHL career.
“I obviously wrestled with [my younger brother] Colton quite a bit growing up, so it was something pretty similar to that,” he said. “Obviously not as many punches when Colton and I fight, but it was fun. I enjoyed it. The adrenaline rush was good.”
King said he didn’t mind two of his stars fighting, despite the inherent injury risks, because it demonstrates their intensity.
“I get it,” he said. “It’s an emotional game, and this is what we need in our lineup. We need guys to play emotional. I’m not saying [necessarily] fighting, but they need to be excited about getting on the ice for those shifts.”