Rozner: Blackhawks' failure to launch will result in change
The Blackhawks held a morning wake at the UC Saturday.
It wasn't the event they had planned for the day of Game 5, but a postseason postmortem was all that was left after getting swept from the tournament in the first round by eighth-seeded Nashville.
Players cleaned out their lockers, held exit interviews with team officials and met the media, but GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville opened the proceedings and it was Bowman who set the tone with 11 sobering minutes on the state of the franchise.
It was fire and brimstone uncharacteristic of the traditionally laid-back Bowman, who did everything but throw a pair of tablets at those who had strayed from the flock.
In this case, every player on the team.
"I'll start off here by saying I'm completely, completely disappointed. I'm frustrated. I'm angry," Bowman said. "Standing here April 22 is not the way we expected our season to end, and it's a complete failure when you measure it against the expectations we have of ourselves."
Yeah, this came from the top of the mountain and sounded like it could have come from the top of the organization, where team president John McDonough has standards that begin and end with a Stanley Cup.
"It's time right now to take a look in the mirror and face facts," Bowman said. "When you do that, you look at accountability, and that starts with me. I need to be better. There's no doubt about it.
"Top to bottom, we need more."
While cap constraints and no-movement clauses will hamper significant changes, it sounds like nearly anything could be on the table.
"I'm not going to characterize what's going to change or how it's going to change, but we have to (change)," Bowman said. "We can't expect everything to come back exactly the same and think we're going to have a different result."
Perspective will lack at a moment like this, when the Hawks have departed the playoffs in the first round in consecutive seasons.
But "shock" was the word of the day, shock that the effort was so poor.
You wouldn't blame McDonough or Bowman or Rocky Wirtz for feeling like they treated their players as kings, or champs, and instead got the effort of chumps.
Getting beat is one thing. Failure to launch is another.
Quenneville, in particular, has given his players so much rope, has treated them with such respect. He protects them in the media and gives days off whenever they need it.
In the past, he has always gotten in return a title-winning effort, if not always a title.
This time, he got nothing.
The head coach should be insulted by what the Hawks' core gave him in this series.
"Our job is to get the most out of every single guy and we've always had a certain standard of how we compete," Quenneville said. "I think sometimes we assume that's been a given, being fortunate to work with this group.
"That's always been there and so it was something that was definitely … "
Quenneville paused for a moment and then finished, saying, "I always take it personal when we're not competitive."
There was no denial Saturday of what took place last week. No excuses were made, but there seemed to be -- among players -- some misunderstanding of how poor their effort was against Nashville.
But simultaneously, the Hawks saw Nashville as a fast, hungry team, and the Hawks were just the opposite, even admitting they may have overlooked the Preds.
That contradiction will take some time to settle in, and it may be part of the problem.
Nevertheless, it led them to this day, a day on which a morning skate turned into an ice-melting ceremony, the kind they like to hold in June after riding that big bus down Michigan Avenue, downing bottles of champagne and drinking in the adoration.
Instead, they left as individuals, in their own cars, driving quietly down West Madison with no confetti and a bitter taste in their mouths, knowing they will never have this group together again.
But having failed to play as a team, they lost the right to keep this team together.
And now there will be consequences.
• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.