It would be one thing if it was the young players who were making the mistakes, then it could be pinned on youth and growing pains.
But while none of the youngsters has stepped to the fore and proclaimed himself a future top-notch NHL player, it is the Blackhawks veterans who have failed as leaders and have cost the Hawks games.
Once again Friday night, the Hawks were blown out of the building by the Red Wings in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the 6-2 final score.
Combined with Thursday night's 6-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Hawks were outscored 12-3 in a span of 24 hours.
"As a professional athlete you have an obligation to play hard, no matter the situation," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "They're not embarrassing me, some of them are embarrassing themselves. I won't play them."
Savard didn't name names, but a look at the minutes played reveals a lot.
Peter Bondra skated five shifts for 2 minutes 16 seconds and didn't play in the final two periods, even though the Hawks had three third-period power plays.
"He made a mistake on the second goal," Savard said. "Two games in two nights, he gets tired, doesn't think as well. I just thought I'd give him a rest."
Adrian Aucoin, the captain whose troubles since signing with the Hawks have been a microcosm of the team's struggles as a whole, didn't play another minute after taking a penalty midway through the second period.
"They are getting paid a lot of money," Savard said. "I don't take it personally, but if they don't want to play, they won't play."
About the only bright spot in yet another dismal evening was a two-goal night from Jason Williams against his former teammates, one of them short-handed.
But that was about it as the Hawks managed only 19 shots on goalthe same amount the Red Wings, playing without leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, compiled in the second period alone.
"We have to come out and play hard every night, no matter what the circumstances are," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We know they have a good team, but that's no excuse for not putting forth our best effort."
It seems hard to believe now that this team was once on the cusp of being in the playoff picture in late December.
"We're a fragile team and the leadership has to take over when that happens," Savard said. "Right now, some guys don't feel obligated to play hard."
Patrick Lalime started in goal and was lifted midway through the second with the score 4-0. "He was left alone on a lot of situations and I didn't want to put him that situation," Savard said. Rene Bourque didn't make the trip because of the flu, missing his second straight game. Danny Richmond played wing for the second straight game. The Hawks have a long way to go to reach the team record for short-handed goals in a season. Including Williams' goal they have 10 and the record is 25 set in the 1988-89 season. Dirk Graham had 10 of them to lead that team.
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