First, it was the call up of Jassen Cullimore. Then it was the scratching of Jack Skille so John Scott could play forward. Now, it's the demotion of Nick Leddy and the scratching of Viktor Stalberg.
What are the Blackhawks thinking? I mean, they're watching the same games we are right? Scott's been awful, Cullimore has been a little better than bad, and Nick Leddy, after a slow first game or so, has seemingly turned it around. So what could the Hawks be thinking? After a few hours of deep hockey thought, here's what I came up with:
Why John Scott?
Let's not fool ourselves. John Scott was not brought here because of his defensive prowess. He was brought here because he can, and will fight. While he's been pretty bad on the ice, it's hard to say he's been useless. Why? Well, because his presence is serving as a deterrent to would be aggressors.
After Nik Hjalmarsson injured Jason Pominville in last Monday's game against the Sabres, Buffalo lunkhead Patrick Kaleta mouthed off about getting revenge, and retribution in Saturday's rematch. Well, if you noticed...not Sabre did a damn thing. John Scott was playing forward, and his presence kept his teammates safe. No one wants to fight a 6'8 hockey player, regardless of his skating ability.
I know it's a small sample size, and you (like me) might think it's more important to keep the puck out of the net than keep goons off of Patrick Kane, but this is almost certainly what the Hawks coaches and management are thinking.
Why Jassen Cullimore over Nick Leddy?
This is a much tougher question to answer. Yes, Leddy had an awful start to the season, and looked lost and scared on the ice, but the talent was clearly there. He's looked better in every game. Could it be that the Hawks think he might be mentally fragile? I'm not basing this on anything, but maybe they think dominating in the AHL is better than just getting by in the NHL.
Leddy will be part of this Hawks team for years to come. Apparently, his time just hasn't come yet.
The bigger question is Cullimore. I don't know what he does that Leddy or Jordan Hendry can't. They can both skate slowly and fall over their feet. Hendry must be in Coach Q's dog house. He's seeming more and more like the last option on D. While he's far from perfect, more often than not he'll make the safe play and keep the team out of trouble.
Cullimore hasn't been bad in his two games so far, but he was plenty bad in the 119 games he played as a Hawk between 2005 and 2007. In those 119 games, he was a -30. I find it hard to believe he's gotten faster or better defensively as he's gotten older.
I'm willing to give the organ-I-zation the benefit of the doubt. Since Coach Q and Stan Bowman have taken over, they're batting close to 1.000, but this is the year where the decisions will be under the microscope. The Hawks don't have the same level or depth of talent they did last season.
These little moves become more important. Time will tell if they're making the right ones.