Hartman: “Honestly, we coasted into playoffs”

In an article by Adam Vignan at The Tennesseean on Wednesday, former Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman acknowledged something many fans assumed while watching last year’s first round series against Hartman’s new employer, the Predators.

“Honestly, we coasted into playoffs,” Hartman told Vignan. “It’s not how you want to come in. We played a team like Nashville, they came in fighting for a spot, battling and playing playoff hockey for the last two weeks of the season. It showed. It showed that our team wasn’t ready.”

Not a great look for the Blackhawks, who will be watching the first round of the playoffs from home this year like the rest of us.

49 thoughts on “Hartman: “Honestly, we coasted into playoffs”

  1. That’s exactly the way it seemed and that’s on the core guys, the veteran leadership group – it’s mental preparedness and desire.

    Same thing we saw most of this year – that’s not on Q or Stan – that’s on the core group. If they can’t get their collective heads straight and their games back after this year’s debacle then they’re probably not going to and Q and Stan won’t last past this year.

    However I’m hopeful that the thorough embarrassment that was this year will be enough to get the core hungry again. If not then the window is indeed closed.

  2. Agree wraparound next year will be shit or get the pot time for the core. Going into the playoffs losing tge way they definitely affected their play.

  3. After watching Keith and Seabrook for this past season, I don’t think those two are “coming back”. The best days are past for those two.

  4. …the Hawks sucked last year in the playoffs and
    team was not properly prepared…and the team situation was not properly addressed for this season….as far as core group…you can’t beat a dead horse…

  5. 8 goals, 17 assists and a plus 5 in 57 games for the last place Hawks
    after a blistering start
    3 goals, 3 assists and a minus 4 in 21 games for the first place Preds

    What gives?…….the Saad effect?

  6. The underlying truth of coasting into the playoffs is that the hunger to do whatever it takes to be the best is less than what it used to be and needs to be. It’s human nature to lose some of the hunger to be the best after having success. It takes rare individuals to push themselves even harder the second time than they did the first time because they know it will take more. The core players had already been to the mountain top 3 times, which is already an amazing accomplishment, but to get there a 4th time would take even more dedication and effort than in did before and they just didn’t have it in them – either physically or mentally or both.

    Regardless what anyone says, I believe Toews has been and still is the leader of the team. A leader must put the team ahead of self and maybe it just got to the point where Toews got a little too worried about his scoring dropping off for the past two seasons coupled with the Panarin/Kane phenomenon where they were being called the top line on the team … and maybe Toews took his eyes off the prize and focused a little too much on his individual situation. With so much success last season coming from Crawford providing goalie wins, the team was probably not as good as the regular season record so they coasted into the playoffs and hit a hungry hungry buzz saw.

    The handwriting was on the wall when Toews and Kane signed their $10.5M deals. Yes, the Cap was supposed to rise more than it did, but by signing those max deals it guaranteed they would have a weaker team than if T&K had left some money on the table for Stan to use to build a stronger team. I’m not blaming them for being human and taking as much as they could get, but at that moment I knew, in my heart of hearts, that Toews wasn’t the exceptional saint of a leader he was made out to be. I didn’t expect Kane to sacrifice for the good of the team, but I did expect it from Toews and when he didn’t do it – justly or unjustly – I was disappointed.

  7. @ ER those contracts were made even trickier by the fact that not only were/are 19 and 88 joined at the hip in terms of Hawks success and when they entered the NHL they’re also represented by the same agent. It always seemed like they’d get identical contracts like they did with their 2nd deals and back then could you really justify paying Kane more than Toews?

  8. I acknowledge I’m probably judging unfairly and holding T&K to a higher standard than I would be capable of … but … the difference in the Cap allocation for T&K went up an astonishing $8.4M from their last Cup winning season in 2014/15 to the first season of their max contracts in 2015/16. The Cap crunch meant Saad was traded for Anisimov because of a lower cap hit, Sharp was sent packing and not replaced, Oduya was not resigned and not replaced with a top-4 d-man. The 2015/16 talent drop off was heavily masked by Panarin bursting on the scene with an ELC contract.

    The point is that had T&K signed for a still league high $9.5M instead of $10.5M, that would have given Stan enough cap space to not trade Saad and maybe a little more cap space to upgrade a d-man to replace Oduya in the top-4.

    Woulda coulda and shoulda – I know … but just think if Stan had more Cap space and didn’t need to trade Saad – and then didn’t need to trade Panarin to get Saad back. The top-6 this season could havc been this:

    Saad-Toews-DCat
    Panarin-Schmaltz-Kane

  9. EB 88 and 19 caphit went up 4.2m each and Saads went up 5.75m at least, i don’t recall what his actual elc was. I don’t think there is any reasonable agrument in that case to say they should take less so Saad could’ve stayed.

  10. Ian, correct – $4.2M each so it was $8.4M for the two of them.

    Even if Stan would have had to sign Saad for $6M like Columbus did – it would have been only $1.5M more than the net cap hits between Saad ($6M) and Anisimov ($4.5M). Therefore they could have keep Saad and still had some cap space left over. Then going into this season they would have had enough cap space to re-sign Panarin.

  11. Winnipeg might win it this year–
    Jets have done things the right way-first round picks-
    17-Vesalainen
    16-Laine
    15-Connor, Roslovic
    14-Ehlers
    13-Morrisey
    12-Trouba
    11-Scheifele
    (Kane was in 09 and they got Tyler Myers for him)

  12. Toews has really fallen off the table. He needs to cut it out with his vegan diet and start eating meat again…he is weaker and it shows. If he’s not willing to feed his body the fuel it needs to play the game at this level, he needs to “get off the pot”

  13. EB you assuming Panarin and his 6m were still here too. Last October heading into season Bowman had to wait until season started to sign Franson to a 1 m deal. Where would a 6m caphit fit, Hossa’s ltir wouldn’t work for it.
    Also can you imagine Patrick Kanes agent telling him i can get you a 4.2m average boost in your salary for next 8 years. So I told him you would settle for 3.2 m if you give Brandon Saad over 5m raise a year for next 6 years.

  14. EBONYRAPTOR, As far as your hungry team theory going, is not the team that won the Cup the year before the first of the three Hawk cups now trying for four and make it three in a row? Does the same Captain not head it? There is your Dynasty three cups going for four. I really did not like when they started with that Dynasty talk.
    As for the T&K salary theory the D man could have been D. Byfuglien or N Leddy?

  15. If your looking at cap space, Connor Murphy’s contract could be bought out for a very mininal cap hit, which could roughly give an additional 3m/yr. in cap room for the term of his deal, if they wanted to do it. Getting something in a trade would be first choice of course.

  16. Jets have done things the right way-first round picks-
    17-Vesalainen (24)
    16-Laine (2)
    15-Connor, Roslovic (17 + 25)
    14-Ehlers (9)
    13-Morrisey (13)
    12-Trouba (9)
    11-Scheifele (7)

    I agree……but when was the last time the Hawks had 4 top 10 picks in a 6 year period. Even at that it took the Jets several years to put it together. How about the Oilers……Top 10 picks 8 years IN A ROW with 4 number 1 picks a 3 and 4 pick the past 8 years. Drafting is no guarantee of success.

  17. JFriday… Amen!!!

    19 has fallen off a cliff- contrary to some people’s views here…
    Yes- He is still a very good player… but NOT playing/making a difference like his Pre-2016 years… where he could dominate board battles… and will his way to net for “BIG” goals ( Duck 2015 PO’s)…

    His hands – have been bad, his shot – weak, But biggest tell- is his strength (or lack of… on boards)… I have more confidence in Schmaltz coming out of board batles with puck versus Toews…

    Is it his diet??? Is it his Will… is it several past concussions (seems to fall down a lot more)??? The BS- is pre season- 19 said he worked on his speed… “league is faster”… I personally think he needs to work on his Strength/weights- AND hands/Stick handling…

    Most likely- all of the above are factors – to 19’s demise

    Summer
    1st -Hawks need to HIT big on 2-3 D guys… UFA? Trades? Prospects?? Idk
    2nd- they need to find- a big sniper- to play with Kane… Draft- Zadina!!!
    Me only hopes!!!
    3rd- sign a real goalie

    In reality- the above are ALL # 1 needs!!!

  18. Because the Oilers are bad at drafting doesn’t mean it isn’t the best way to build a team. The Hawks dynasty was built on drafting Seabrook (1st round), Keith (2nd round), Crawford (2nd round), Kane and Toews (1st round). Without those selections you don’t get multiple Cup wins in Chicago.

    Winnipeg has done a great job and notice how many defensemen are on that list and how many good players they got NOT drafting in the top ten. It shows the Hawks have really lagged behind in how they use their first round picks and what we have been able to get out of the draft compared to a division rival. For years.

    EB I agree it is human nature to take your foot off of the gas after achieving your lifelong dream, 3 times running. Getting older doesn’t help even if mentally they are willing to give, physically they don’t have what they once did.

    As far as Toews and Kane deals go, don’t call them max contracts because they are anything but max contracts. At the time they signed, the max deal per the collective bargaining agreement was $12.5 million per season. They signed for $10.5. I think Malkin was at $9.7 per. So of course they were going to be higher than that.

    Had the Hawks not signed them, there would have been about 30 teams willing to pay them $12.5 million per season to take them off of our hands.

  19. Ian, one more comment on this dead horse beatdown that I started – the math is Saad ($6M) + Anisimov ($4.5M) versus Saad ($6M) + Panarin ($6M) – that’s a difference of $1.5M which would have been available had T&K taken $9.5M each instead of $10.5M each. But they didn’t so I’ve already spent more time discussing it than I should have.

  20. Just to add another layer to this T and K contract onion – when they signed those $10.5 deals the % of the cap that they took up was as least equal to if not a bit lower than the % of the cap that Crosby and Malkin’s deals took up when they signed – using the salary cap figure of the year each of them signed. There are numbers out there to support this statement.

    So T and K took market deals – would you have wanted Stan to hold the line at $9.5 and have told them to walk if they didn’t like it. I’m sure Pat Brisson (their agent) knew the relative cap % of Crosby and Malkin’s contracts and so did Stan. The contracts to T and K like it or not were a fair price at the time.

  21. @ The Wraparound – since you asked me a question, I will give an answer, even though my intention is to not perpetuate this T&K contract discussion any more than I already have.

    The kernel of this topic was my admission that my opinion of Toews’ leadership is not as sacrosanct as I once thought it was and further it is my opinion that if the Hawks are to return to glory, Toews will need to return to the selfless leader he was for the first 7 or 8 years of his career. After giving a couple examples of where I thought Toews focused more on himself than was previously visible, I added the topic of the T&K contracts. I disclaimed I was probably being unjust for holding Toews to a higher standard than I myself could live up to, but my opinion of his leadership sank to some extent because I knew that he knew that by him getting $10.5M of Cap space, it would necessarily result in a weaker team. I didn’t hold Kane to that same standard because I didn’t think it wrong for an athlete to get as much as he can during his relatively short playing career – but that was because I didn’t hold up Kane as a selfless leader the way I did Toews. That’s all.

  22. Good read jordyhawk, we ‘ve mentioned here about the canadian dollar being low as one reason for the cap staying flat. Canadian teams paying salaries in US dollars lose too much on exchange and are threatened. Thought it was interesting he mentioned the Rogers tv deal but didn’t mention that having a solid tv deal in US plus every team with a local deal so all games are shown was supposed to lead to cap increases.
    Also supposedly cap was been kept artificially low to attract expansion suitors. I guess it should be no surprise with Vegas in this year and a committment for a Seattle team, bigger cap raises coming. It was kinda of a perfect storm against teams like the Blackhawks. Even if Hossa’s cap hit had of decreased with his salary and been at 1m as league aporoved it when signed now instead of 5.275m without changing rules in mid stream, just imagine the difference that made in last 2 or 3 years. Thats the price of success in a league wanting parity.

  23. Can we have a do over on the Panarin trade? I know it couldn’t have worked-blah, blah……

  24. Who ever said blame the core guys , piss off .,.,Q and Stan did not have our team ready to play last year in the play offs . Period . Wraparound you are wrong . Stan and Q have put the product on the ice ,coached the team on the ice ,and paid the team on the ice .

    Sorry but you can`t fire the team . Mc D ,if he had any balls would have done what the Rangers did ,.,.,fire them all .

  25. is it too early to start planning for the seattle draft?

  26. One thing i would like to know is, will Sikura and Hillman be exempt in 2020 because they didn’t play 10 games even though 1 yr elc burnt. Read where Middlestat will be exempt but it said due to his late birthday, so is it just him?

  27. @Halktalk Not sure what Stan cold have done to have players ready to play in last year’s playoffs – give a pep talk in the locker room? Maybe he could traded for another D man but would that have made any difference in the final outcome vs. NSH

    In pro hockey in the modern era I don’t think coaches are the rah rah guys they maybe used to be – players are expected to be self motivated and the leadership of any team really is responsible for that

    The coach prepares the team with strategies and roster moves, match ups, defensive/offensive schemes.

    The compete level IMO is on the modern players – they get well compensated and rightfully shouldn’t need Q or Stan to motivate them to be at their best

  28. Hawks have lots of problems now. I cant believe there are still Panarin-Saad trade apologists saying trade cannot be judged yet. For whatever reason Saad regressed way before this trade, and Panarin is a special player and Saad is not.
    Looks like Lou Brock Cubs trade all over.
    Bowman should have been fired after this season. He has made some great moves over the yrs. including bringing Panarin in originally, among many others, however this trade, and horrible contracts to: Bickell, Seabrook, Toews, Rutta, et al., have brought down the franchise.
    There is no hope for short term Hawks Cup again, now with Keith washed up, and possibly Toews and Crawford as well.
    The 3 Cups were great, that’s it though for possibly another 5-50 years.

  29. I watched a lot of hockey in the last 2 days and it was great. Drew Doughty suspended for tonight’s game is a problem for LA. Toronto? Cmon that’s the BEST Babcock can come up with. Just a poor performance. Looking forward to a Winnipeg Nashville matchup in round 2. Clearly the two best teams out west.

    WOW, Panarin is being hyped as an emerging superstar prior to puck drop and he delivered last night 1 G 2 A dominant game. Also have to love the announcers just taking Stan Bowman to task on that trade, “how do you trade this guy?” “You trade him and then miss the playoffs?” Egg on your face Stan!

  30. Not saying its the best way to go but Ilya Bryzgalov is making a lot if noise. He has 2 years on his Flyers buyout left and his salary from that drops about 3m/ year. He wouldn’t need a big salary and 37 yrs old, so could even take 35+ deal where he could earn bonuses for games played and minimal base salary, as an insurance policy. Big question is what quality of play he has to give, but may be worth look.
    SSHM could see a deal where if the right player is left unprotected where Seattle might take his caphit in a trade at that point possibly.

  31. Caps could not even touch Panarin on the winner (and he started almost flat-footed from just outside his own blueline). Fabulous speed and skill from him, but brutal defense as well from Caps (Orlov didn’t even turn until Panarin was past him and 28 just waived at him). The acceleration around Orlov and shot on the fly was phenomenal though. I only saw third period and OT but he also made nice pass to Jones to get to 3-3. I’ll be pulling for him, but I die a little bit every time he does something special (and he’s on quite a roll right now).

  32. Oh Stan’s going to have to give up some talent for them to take Seabs that’s for sure. What a mess Stan has created with this roster.

  33. Just a one game observation, but someone is going to paying elite player money to John Carlson and his game is far from elite. I hope it’s not the Hawks.

  34. Watched a bunch of the games last night … I love playoff hockey … and I have to say I was pretty happy with most of the outcomes – especially Anaheim losing. I have no love for San Jose but I detest the Ducks. It was glorious to see POS Perry lose it a couple times. It’s only 1 game so maybe the Ducks still take the series but I’m hoping for a Sharks win so I can watch the Duck jerk wads waddle off into the offseason.

    I was happy for Panarin last night. Good on him to silence the nonsense he disappears in the post season.

    My rooting interests are with the Jets. Gotta get behind one of my favorite ex-Hawks Big Buf. Don’t we wish we still had him. Plus I still kinda hate Minnesota from the old Northstar days … different franchise I know but they are still Minnesota. So, go Jets go.

  35. Noonan its taking a look without any risk, i said not saying best option but how much does a base salary that can be buried in minors hurt or even a pto for that matter.

  36. Lol. Been telling all of u about cap space -at trade dead line. And what a disappointment Toews as a player & leader been and SB contracts. And here we are all discussing the very thing I New was a problem and wanted to see One of these guys moved Keith seabs and Toews So now you all talk about Cap. Room. Funny how SB played Santa with contracts and left nothing for the rest of the team. After 10 years you should of realized that you don’t get better but slower and less hungry to do the things it takes to Win.

  37. @SSHM – you’re right about Carlson’s game last night and I thought similarly

    Although it’s only one game he didn’t look like an elite D man for that one game

    We’ll see from here how he plays

    Caps totally choked that game away – bad penalty, bad clearing attempt by Wilson, Grubauer couldn’t make a big save on either 3rd or 4th goals, WSH D on Panarin was sketchy

    I had picked them to win that series but they’re not filling me with confidence

  38. @ THE WRAPAROUND

    I almost didn’t make that comment because after all, he had 3 assists, so it’s hard to say a guy didn’t have a good game but as for the eye test, I just didn’t “see it” honestly I don’t watch a ton of caps games but when I think of 1st pair talent it takes a while until I come to the name of John Carlson.

    Hard to believe the Caps havent advanced past the 2nd round since 1998 OMG wow! Barry Trotz is going to get axe. Also what happened to TJ Oshe game? They are St Louis Blues EAST lol.

  39. Hawks just signed Gilbert to a 3-year ELC.

    Don’t have high hopes for Gilbert at NHL level – hope I’m wrong.

  40. I hope Gilbert turns out to be a project like Johns who takes some time but turns out to be worth the investment. I watched the NCAA final and he looked to me like he has slow feet (I hate to say it but it made me think of Dylan Olsen). In any event, good to get him signed as there is no position where we need help more than left defense.

  41. That’s a good thing. We wernt that bad, we didn’t play. Even though we won game 3, the instant replay just wont make the right call when its us. Still need to play good. We didn’t because we were coasting in. MIN and other did same. Cant do that ever again when were deep roster again.

    Only good thing about that/this yr is were going to better/deeper roster because of it, then we would have been.

    Look at TOR this yr, they been coasting since game 40, their done now/didn’t ever start like us last yr.

    Nice to see Bread Man is going to knock off PIT.

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