Will Brent Seabrook's Olympic Snub Become a Problem for the Chicago Blackhawks?

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2014

Brent Seabrook is one of the stars on the Chicago Blackhawks' blue line.

He has been a solid player on each of their Stanley Cup championship teams in 2010 and 2013. In last year's championship run, Seabrook scored the overtime goal that eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

In the Stanley Cup Final, he scored another overtime goal in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. That goal gave the Blackhawks a key win on the road and allowed them to turn around a series they would eventually win in six games.

But when an athlete plays the role of hero, it doesn't end there.

Blackhawks fans will forever be grateful to Seabrook for those two goals. However, they will always expect more from him as well. They want Seabrook to play like a superstar on an every-night basis.

Nobody can do that, not even the league's top superstars. Seabrook is a star, but he is below that level. He is teamed with Duncan Keith to man the Blackhawks' top defensive pairing and makes many big plays.

His play throughout the first half of the regular season was excellent and there's no doubt that Seabrook was spurred by his stellar play in the postseason and his desire to play for the Canadian Olympic team.

Seabrook caught New York Islanders speedster Michael Grabner from behind in a game prior to Team Canada's Olympic announcement. Seabrook pointed out that play after the game to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times“That was something a little special. That was for the Team Canada guys,” he said.

That honor never came. The Blackhawks have 10 players who will represent their countries, including Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, who will play for Canada. Seabrook would have been the fourth. 

There are fears that Seabrook's play may start to slip now. He is disappointed, no matter how much he tries to mask it. Seabrook's fine play this season could take a dip because he won't be joining the best Canadian players in Sochi.

The reason for that is Seabrook has regularly been inconsistent throughout his career. Prior to last year's hot streak in the playoffs, he was not at his best for a large part of the regular season. 

Then he got hot in the playoffs, and it has continued during the regular season. With that said, there have been some moments this year that have not been good for Seabrook.

He has scored six goals and 26 assists and has an impressive plus-23 rating to go along with his 21:57 of ice time per night. Extra Skater indicates that he also has an even-strength Corsi for percentage of 57.9, which ranks fifth on the team.

Seabrook has had five games where he was a minus-two or worse.

More than the numbers, it's the eye test with Seabrook. He gets to play with Keith, who is not only one of the most talented defensemen in the league and a Norris Trophy favorite, but an outstanding skater too. 

Seabrook does not skate as well as his partner and that area seems to be a liability in his game. Seabrook has heard the criticism of that aspect of his game for years. 

“I feel like I can skate,” he told Lazerus. “I’ve worked on it. That was a big knock on me coming into the league nine years ago, and I’m still here.”

But he can't skate as well as Keith, and since those two are on the ice together so much of the time, there's no way to mask the issue. Though Seabrook may be skating better than the average NHL player, he is still arriving on the scene a fraction of a second later than Keith.

The NHL has reached the dog days of its season and Seabrook has to move forward knowing he did not get the Olympic reward he wanted despite an excellent first half.

He also knows that the playoffs will be here shortly and it may be difficult to mount a consistent effort night after night in the remaining games of the regular season. 

If that happens, the Blackhawks may lose ground in Western Conference, which could keep them from going into the postseason as Stanley Cup favorites.


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