Analysis: What To Do With Ryan Hartman?




Yesterday here, we looked at the rationale (for both teams) of an Artem Anisimov trade back to the Blackhawks’ opponent last night—the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I continued to hear overnight that teams are calling on Anisimov. Yet there are other signals that Anisimov won’t be traded by 3PM Eastern tomorrow—the two most glaring being GM Stan Bowman’s statement that he has no plans to trade Anisimov (which is always subject to change) and the fact (based on what I heard last night) that Anisimov has not been approached (yet) about waiving his NMC (which expires on 7/1 regardless).

July 1 could also be an important date in the saga that the title of this blog addresses: the rumored and fairly well-evidenced (by now) rift between head coach Joel Quenneville and forward Ryan Hartman.The most recent evidence of which was a mid-game benching of Hartman last night.

There are numerous other reasons Quenneville could be relieved of his head coaching duties at the end of the season.  But clearly, it is getting harder and harder to see how Hartman and Quenneville co-exist next season.

Sure, there are numerous cases where players and coaches mend fences, reach an understanding and—Bob’s your uncle—everything works out. The extenuating circumstance here is there are, hmmmm, numerous suggestions, or “rumors,” that Hartman and those surrounding him off the ice are not hiding their displeasure with Quenneville—not just in terms of how he’s handled Hartman, but making broader allegations that Quenneville has lost the entire team.

Those wounds don’t heal as quickly. And preventing further flares poses a real challenge for an organization that employs, and therefore relatively controls, the player, but not their “posse.”

And in that regard, this is a Stan Bowman/front office issue. So let’s war game this out.

Maybe the “plan” is that Coach Q will be  “reassigned” within the organization at the end of the season. A new coach matriculates or is hired, and Hartman gets the fresh start in Chicago that apparently he desires. Done.

Maybe the team is quietly planning to deal Hartman over the next 36 hours is what is clearly a seller’s market (SEE: Derrick Brassard, Rick Nash). I have heard, from 3 separate sources in the last few days, things ranging from: “Hartman has been discussed by the Hawks” with this team or that, to “Hartman is as good as gone.”

And perhaps there is at present no “plan,” per se. And the team has not made a decision on Quenneville’s future, but is considering it, and therefore is hesitant on making a move on a recent former #1 pick who has shown flashes of being a very effective NHL player, and brings some qualities the team and organization lacks overall.

Let’s consider that last scenario, which is quite plausible, in my opinion. Let’s remember the unending sagas of the summers of 2014 and 2015, when everyone and their brother knew the Hawks were going to deal Nick Leddy and Patrick Sharp respectively. Yet Bowman waited. And waited. And waited. And, in the end, got thoroughly fleeced on both deals (with the Islanders and Dallas) when he eventually made them.

Yes, thoroughly fleeced.

Let’s also remember that the March 1 trading deadline is always a more lucrative seller’s market. And the postseason, especially as it drags on more and more, and teams keep plucking players in trades and free agency, becomes more and more a buyer’s market.

So unless the Hawks have pretty much decided this is Quenneville’s last season as head coach, it might behoove them to get the best offer they can—in what is clearly a seller’s market—on Hartman between now and 3PM tomorrow.

Or, if they don’t, and Quenneville will be around for the next year of his contract, we may want to revisit this discussion when the Hartman decision is finally, somehow, resolved.

On the rumors I reported earlier, I heard overnight that some of the deals the Hawks have been discussing have not panned out and its beginning to look a bit (a bit more anyway) like a quieter deadline. But, I was also told “more to come.”

Stay tuned.



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