Chicago Blackhawks Are Reaching a Crucial Moment In Their Development

Tyler JuranovichCorrespondent IIIDecember 15, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 08: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates around the net as Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars defends and Andrew Raycroft #30 drops to make a potential save at the United Center on December 8, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 5-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Monday night was a painful night for the Blackhawk's defense. It was another reminder of how worse off this defense is to the fans, coaches and the players themselves. It's becoming so bad that it's starting to eat away at the team. 

“Devastating, embarrassing, humiliating,” Jonathan Toews said. “I don’t know what word you want to use but it’s not going to be a good one. I don’t know what it is. You ask that team over there if they thought they deserved to win tonight. I’m sure they’ll tell you they played far from their best game too. 

“I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t seem to matter who we play against, but our level of satisfaction gets right up there for no reason in particular. I don’t really understand it. That’s what ticks me off so much. We know what we have to do as a team to go out there and find a way to win with five minutes left and up a goal and we just do the things that are going to set us up to fail. It seems like we’re going to come in here [the dressing room] all ticked off but what’s that going to do? The game is over, we didn’t get two points. I really don’t know what to say right now.”

Q came in here and said it afterwards,” Toews continued. “It’s contagious. When a couple guys start being lazy and don’t do the right thing, well, the next guy is going to do the same thing. 

“It’s pretty frustrating to sit here and talk about something like that when it’s so easy to go out there and do it. Just go out there and play and do the right thing instead of talking about it all the time.” 

Those are definitely words from a frustrated captain. 

As I've stated before, defense is the problem in Chicago. Duncan Keith is having one of the worst years after winning the Norris Trophy in recent memory. 

How can you expect the younger and other defensemen play better when they see one of the best defensemen in the league struggling? It's not a moral booster. 

The Hawks are usually an upbeat team, but this is the first time in the past three years you can tell the mood in the locker room is negative.

Injuries to Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa clog the minds and news stories. A goaltending problem is beginning to emerge, exactly like last year, but with such a horrid defense it's hard to exactly pin point who is the right choice. The general public like Crawford, and he is playing better, or is Turco just getting the bad end of the stick? 

Questions like these were not prevalent last season. Everyone knew Niemi was the man, instead of Huet. Depth and defense wasn't an issue beyond a game or two. 

Now, this year things are seriously looking bleak. Not too bleak where this isn't any hope, but fans are not willing to see the Hawks go back to a mediocre or, worse, below average team. 

The "progress" has reached a stalling point. This is where the coaches and players need to step up. This season marks a crucial component of the evolution of this team.

With this much potential will the Blackhawks end up being a false franchise team, only to withering away year by year after a Stanley Cup win? 

It's a scary thought, but also a real possibility.