End of miserable Blackhawks season can’t come soon enough

Seth Jones didn’t need many words to explain what was immediately evident in his expression and demeanor Saturday night.

“There’s really nothing to be happy about,” he said.

The Blackhawks have endured a remarkably difficult and unsuccessful season since its very first night, but this last month has been particularly tough to get through.

Consecutive 4-1 losses in California dropped the Hawks to 2-10-2 in their last 14 games, having been outscored 60-35 over that span. Even the small silver linings that most teams can cling to during slumps have disappeared. So has any sense of meaning attached to the results, win or lose.

The Hawks are defeated, deflated and aimless, slogging their way to the finish line because they have no other choice. It has been even more grinding mentally than physically.

“Yeah, it doesn’t make the game fun,” Jones said, yet again with no need for elaboration.

At last, at least, the final week has now arrived. The Hawks will host the equally awful Flyers on Monday, then host the fighting-for-their-lives Golden Knights on Wednesday, then visit the late-season surging Sabres on Friday.

And then they’ll be done, finally, having played 88 games (including preseason games) over 218 days and accomplished virtually nothing.

“These are the grinds that it’s not easy to grind out,” interim coach Derek King said. “These are the ones that you’ve really got to dig deep to find a way to motivate yourself or just figure a way to win that puck battle, shorten that shift [or] do all the little things right.”

Added Tyler Johnson: “When you’re playing these games, it’s tough to say you’re trying to build something right now. But at the same time…you want to be playing the best you can. In order to do that, you play as a team.”

King refused to even consider the question Saturday whether some of his players had already checked out –“Even if I thought it, I would never say it, [because] they can’t check out,” he said honestly –but it sure seems like some might be. It’s hard to fault them for it, though.

Depending on the results of the final three games –they enter Monday with 63 points — the Hawks’ 2021-22 season will be their worst full season since either 2005-06 (65 points) or 2003-04 (59 points). If they lose out, it’ll be their second-worst full season since 1976-77 (also 63 points) and their third-worst full season since 1957-58 (55 points in a 70-game schedule).

That weight of history might be taking its toll, too. The Avalanche, Blues, Wild, Canucks, Sharks and basically every other team the Blackhawks regularly squashed during their Stanley Cup dynasty era have derived great schadenfreude from watching the franchise’s recent disintegration, as have many general hockey fans outraged over the Kyle Beach sexual assault scandal.

Knowing everyone else savors your misery must be a lonely feeling for the current players, most of which hold no connection to either the scandal or the Cups.

“Mentally, they’re fried,” King said. “This is just draining right now. They’ve got to find a way as a team — not individually [but] as a team –to just overcome all these speed bumps and just fight through it.”

But with the current team almost certainly destined for sweeping changes this offseason, as general manager Kyle Davidson dives deeper into his rebuilding plans, they have little motivation to search for that chemistry now. Indeed, the end of the season simply can’t come soon enough.

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