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Jeremy Colliton Called Out Erik Gustafsson In The Media Yesterday And Whoa Boy Here We Go Again

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes

We all watched the Blackhawks game last week in Prague. It looked disgustingly familiar. A score that was close because the Blackhawks have ELITE offensive players like Kane and Debrincat who can score the odd chance when they get it. The problem was the defense. Again. No Murphy and no de Haan because of injury, but we didn’t get much out of Erik Gustafsson either. I’ve been saying this since the St Louis series in 2016 about Gustafsson

Poor defensively play that cost the Hawks the St Louis series.

Here is what Colliton said yesterday

“We want to use him in offensive situations. Offensive zone face offs. Certainly he will continue his power-play time. The thing about Gus though…he can be good defensively. He just has to commit to it. When he is engaged and he’s keeping his shifts shorter it’s much easier for him to play at a high level away from the puck. So umm, that’s what we expect.”

This isn’t the first time we have heard this from Colliton on Gustafsson

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The world at his feet if he wants it. Totally true. Gustafsson can do everything you want out of a defenseman. Unreal instincts and skill with the puck. Tremendous skater. He can run your power-play and be a difference-maker. Colliton is absolutely right about him. Here is the thing though…it’s not like we are talking about some 19 year-old rookie trying to figure it out and mature. Gustafsson is 27. He will turn 28 in March. He is on his third professional contract in North America. He’s in a contract year again and one game into the season his Head Coach is calling him out…again. At what point do you look at a guy like him and say “he is what he is and it’s time to move on?”

I’ve been there. This feels similar to what I felt about Nick Schmaltz last year. I was terrified of the Blackhawks giving Schmaltz a long term deal and making him a part of the core going forward. I LOVED the Schmaltz trade even before we knew Strome was going to be an important player. I feel the same way about Gustafsson. He would have trade value to a team that needs help on their PP and third pair. The Blackhawks have a theoretical replacement for him knocking on the door with Adam Boqvist. A trade would make sense, and it always did. Going back to the deadline last year, the draft, and this summer. It didn’t happen for one reason…

THE BLACKHAWKS NEED HIM TOO

It is so fucking frustrating. He’s playing above his head. He’s playing with a legend in Duncan Keith who is still one of the Blackhawks better defenders at 36 years-old. And he has to be paired with Keith because he can’t play in the 3rd pair with Seabrook because they are both horrible defending against cycle plays. So if he has to be good then he better be fucking good. It’s vital to the Blackhawks season. Colliton knows it. Stan knows it. Gustafsson should know it too because whether it’s with the Hawks or someone else if he has a good season he is set up to get PAID next summer. He just has to want to be competent in his own end of the ice. If he doesn’t then he should be traded and maybe play next year in the KHL where they don’t care about defense.

I am rooting for Gus. I want him to be great. I want the Hawks to have at least one pairing where when they’re out on the ice in a critical situation your ass isn’t clenched up tight. Hopefully it’s Keith with Gus because if it’s not and he wants to just freelance and wait for the puck to find him then it will be another long season.