Brent Seabrook has scored some of the biggest goals in Blackhawks history, he's been a fixture on the back end for over a decade and an alternate captain for three seasons.
But Joel Quenneville tries to hold everyone accountable for their play, and with Seabrook's not up to par of late, the coach scratched the veteran defenseman when the Hawks played at Ottawa on Tuesday.
"We felt the other guys were deserving of playing tonight's game," Quenneville told reporters. "We think (it will be) a very limited experience for him. ...
"It's not easy when you make those kind of decisions. But we've got a lot of balance back there and some guys that are playing well."
Erik Gustafsson was recalled from Rockford, but he did not play vs. Ottawa. Gustafsson (3G, 14A in 25 games) missed six weeks earlier in the season with a shoulder injury.
The Hawks also assigned Cody Franson to Rockford after he cleared waivers.
Seabrook has just 1 goal and 10 assists in 41 games. He tried taking the news in stride, telling the Chicago Sun-Times: "It's tough. I've just got to stay focused, and when I get a chance to be back in the lineup, I've got to be ready to go."
As for Franson, it was only a month ago that he was paired with Duncan Keith and taking on more responsibility. He suffered an upper-body injury against Buffalo on Dec. 8, though, and never regained his spot with Keith, who had raved about playing with the 30-year-old veteran.
"I really like playing with him," Keith said. "We both read the game in similar ways and try to use our brain to see the ice and make plays out of the zone. … He adds to my game too."
The emergence of the young, speedy Jordan Oesterle, who has been paired with Keith, is one reason Franson lost playing time. Franson reported to the IceHogs, who begin a six-game road trip at Ontario on Wednesday.
"We want him playing," Quenneville said. "He'll get a lot of ice time ... and he's a good asset."
Franson has played with Toronto, Nashville, Buffalo and the Hawks since 2014-15. Earlier this season, he talked about how much he loved playing and living in Chicago, with hopes of signing an extension at some point.
"That was my hope," said Franson, who signed a one-year deal after coming into training camp on a professional tryout. "Moving around isn't a lot of fun. This is probably top a two, three organization in the league. It's great city, the fans are amazing. Everything's as advertised and I'd love to stay here."
That seems unlikely now.
"With the way the game's going, everybody's developing young guys," said Franson, who has a wife and two young children. "You don't know which way an organization is trying to go.
"So you've got to hope for the best and see what happens."
Franson appeared in 23 games, recording 1 goal and 6 assists while posting an impressive 59.0 Corsi rating in 5-on-5 play.