Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton sees great value in his team fighting until the end of the season. Ross D. Franklin/AP

Blackhawks, coach Jeremy Colliton choose culture over draft position

SHARE Blackhawks, coach Jeremy Colliton choose culture over draft position
SHARE Blackhawks, coach Jeremy Colliton choose culture over draft position

LOS ANGELES — The Blackhawks have worked ardently to pick up points and stay in the playoff race, and it almost certainly won’t be enough.

But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.

As the Hawks head toward likely disappointment, coach Jeremy Colliton said he sees this as anything but a futile fight. He wants to maintain the organizational culture. And while it might not get the Hawks in the playoffs, it’s going to fortify them beyond this season.

‘‘We play to the end, even now,’’ Colliton said before the Hawks faced the Kings late Saturday. ‘‘We’re in a tough situation, and you wondered how we would respond [Thursday] in San Jose after that loss [Tuesday] in Arizona. And I thought we played hard and competed very, very well.

‘‘I think that’s a good thing for the future, whether that’s the games coming up or whether it’s next year. We need that mentality that we’re determined, we’re relentless. No matter what happens, we’re gonna come through for the team and for each other.’’

The Hawks entered their game against the Kings seven points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and they’ll have four games left when they fly home. They are determined to go all-out until they are mathematically eliminated.

Once they are officially out of it, they might tilt toward the younger players and make some minor-league call-ups, but Colliton isn’t willing to discuss that.

The Hawks left themselves almost no shot by splitting with the Avalanche a week ago and losing 1-0 to the Coyotes. But, as Colliton mentioned, they delivered a remarkable effort against one of the best teams in the NHL to beat the Sharks.


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It probably will be a footnote to this season, but it mattered to Colliton. He wants the young players to see how seriously Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith take this, and that instruction will mean something when the Hawks get back to contending.

‘‘We want to drag this out as long as we can and be alive and play important games as long as we can,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘But more so it’s the mentality that we’re not gonna quit. When things are dark, when things are going against you, it tells you a lot about the character you have [by] how you respond. I would like to think we’ve got a lot of character on our team, and now’s the time to show it.’’

Even if it’s hurting them in the upcoming draft? The Hawks had the 10th-worst points percentage before their game Saturday, which would give them a 3.5 percent chance of getting the top pick.

‘‘Draft position will work itself out,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘There’s a lottery. There’s a bunch of things you can’t control. We can only control our own performance, our own mentality, how we come to work every day, and that will be our focus.’’

That’s a polite way of telling everyone where they can stick their draft talk.

The Hawks aren’t banking on a high draft pick to get them back on top anyway. They have some quality young pieces in place already, plus Toews and Patrick Kane are having career years. There are up-and-coming defensemen in the system, too, such as Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Chad Krys.

Colliton’s priority all season has been hard-wiring proper habits and reinforcing the approach the Hawks established during their dynasty. The veterans from that run are intent on upholding it, too.

‘‘We’ve gotta keep taking steps forward,’’ Toews said. ‘‘We’ve gotta keep building that identity, building the right kind of culture in the locker room.’’

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