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Blackhawks scratch Dylan Strome again, citing missing ‘trust factor’

“Right now, we’re just not trusting each other,” Hawks interim coach Derek King said about scratching Strome on Thursday against the Canadiens.

Dylan Strome (left) was a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks again Thursday.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

MONTREAL — Dylan Strome’s roller coaster of a season took another rapid descent Thursday.

After interim coach Derek King talked animatedly with him at center ice during the morning skate, Strome’s shoulders dropped as he slid around the ice; it was clear what had occurred. King later confirmed Strome was a healthy scratch against the Canadiens.

“We keep pounding it in him — the big thing with him is, he’s going to have to change his game a little bit to play,” King said.

Just last week, Strome appeared to be ascending again. King slotted him in a role — on the second line alongside Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat — that properly fit his offensive abilities.

He then put forth four seemingly solid, consistent performances. He scored a big goal Sunday against the Islanders, had an assist Tuesday against the Rangers and generated a 58.1% scoring-chance ratio during his even-strength ice time, third-best on the Hawks during that span. He looked increasingly comfortable and noticeable on the ice.

Even that evidently wasn’t enough to retain that spot, though. Newly recalled Philipp Kurashev essentially took it from him Thursday.

Team management’s continued pattern of giving Strome opportunities, then abruptly taking them away is difficult to understand. Ex-coach Jeremy Colliton had completely soured on him by the time of his firing, but King seemed to be following a more patient approach — until Thursday.

It seems the Hawks might have decided Strome’s only path forward with the organization is to repurpose himself as a defense-first, bottom-six grinder.

“You can’t base everything on points, right?” King elaborated. “It’s [about] the trust factor. When we’re late in the game and I need to go to three lines, is he going to be that guy on one of those three lines that I can trust on a D-zone faceoff or when trapped in our end? And right now, we’re just not trusting each other to that extent.

“He has a lot more to give, and he realizes that. Has he been playing better? For sure, he has. But it’s those little details of the game.”