'He's a leader for a reason': Blackhawks say they'll miss Brent Seabrook
It's going to be much quieter in the Blackhawks' dressing room for the rest of the season.
That goes for the player's lounge, the airplane and the bus as well.
Players -- especially the younger ones -- also figure to get away with an occasional silly remark far more often.
And the fun factor? Well, it just took a nose-dive as well.
Those are just a few examples of how things will be different behind the scenes for the Hawks this season without veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook, who will miss the rest of the season with shoulder and hip injuries.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Kirby Dach and Duncan Keith all spoke about how much they'll miss Seabrook's on- and off-ice presence before the Hawks hosted the Islanders on Friday.
"There's a reason why he hasn't missed many games," Keith said. "He's a leader in this locker room ever since I've been here. He's a leader for a reason.
"Guys look up to him and follow his lead and that's important to have guys like that in the organization."
Said Kane, who loves playing cards with Seabrook on plane rides: "I've known him for so long. You've got to be on your toes all the time. If you mumble your words or say something that doesn't make sense ... it's ruthless. You make one mistake and he's not letting it go. He's always coming at you.
"But it's good -- it keeps you on your toes and keeps things loose too."
Seabrook and Calvin de Haan both had surgeries on their right shoulders Friday. Seabrook is also scheduled to have surgery on both hips -- one in January and one in February.
"We anticipate Calvin ready to return in four-to-five months," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. "We anticipate full recovery for Brent following successful completion of his additional surgeries. Exact recovery time will be announced at that time."
Coach Jeremy Colliton he's been told both players should be ready for training camp come September.
"Those are two big parts of our team in the locker room and on the ice, so it's tough," Keith said. "But we have to find a way to just keep moving forward somehow.
"That's what we've tried to do the last few games. It's not easy, but it's the only choice we have."
The injuries mean that 23-year-old Dennis Gilbert and 19-year-old Adam Boqvist should continue to receive consistent NHL playing time.
They'll have ample opportunity to grow their game and -- theoretically -- be stronger for it in 2020-21.
The Hawks could also give Philip Holm, Ian McCoshen or other Rockford IceHogs a look.
As for Seabrook, who has never played fewer than 69 games in a season, one obvious question had to be asked: Did he elect to go this route because he felt disrespected by a third healthy scratch this season against Colorado on Dec. 18?
The decision to keep him behind for medical testing wasn't announced until 3:56 p.m. on Dec. 19 despite the fact that the team traveled to Winnipeg immediately following their game against the Avs the night before.
"I can't speak to that," Colliton said, "but it's a situation where it's tough to play if you're not 100 percent. So it's an opportunity to get it fixed and have some recovery and be ready for next year."
A team spokesman said general manager Stan Bowman is at the World Juniors in the Czech Republic and was unavailable for comment.
Some might wonder if this is the end of Seabrook's career.
But Keith believes his 34-year-old buddy will definitely try to play again.
"I know (this is) tough on him (and) it's frustrating that he can't be a part of it and he wants to be at his best," Keith said. "I think it's going to be good.
"He's going to be able to get these things taken care of and it's going to be a process for him. But he knows that and he's going to come back and he'll be feeling good and ready to compete."