There’s nothing that makes a coach look worse faster than bad goaltending.
Let’s take Ken Hitchcock as an example.
Since taking over the St. Louis Blues early in the season, Hitchcock has piloted the team to a 21-5-6 record and a spot near the top of the Western Conference.
Hitchcock led the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1998-99. Between the Stars and the Philadelphia Flyers, his teams won six division titles. The Columbus Blue Jackets earned their only playoff berth under Hitchcock in 2008-09.
And the year after that, the Jackets canned ‘Hitch’.
How did that happen? Goalie Steve Mason, who won the rookie of year award in 2008-09, came unglued. He and the franchise still haven’t recovered.
Substandard goaltending erodes all aspects of team confidence.
How different is Hitchcock’s situation in Columbus (you can even go back to his 2006-07 season in Philadelphia) to Joel Quenneville’s with the Blackhawks?
Corey Crawford hasn’t resembled the goalie who carried the Blackhawks to a playoff berth and a near upset of the Vancouver Canucks in the playoffs. Ray Emery, while he’s played well in spurts, hasn’t been a consistent answer.
Couple that with structural breakdowns and poor puck management, and you’ve got a team with an eight-game slide.
Everyone in the organization shares responsibility for what ails the Blackhawks. The issue now is how best to get things fixed.