It’s no secret the Blackhawks have been undermanned throughout the early stages of the 2021 season. Between long-term absences that predated training camp and in-season COVID-19 issues, several mainstays of the roster have been sidelined.
One of those big-name absences is longtime Hawks’ defenseman, Brent Seabrook. The three-time Stanley Cup champion underwent multiple surgeries on his shoulder and hips last season after playing in 32 games. Those procedures resulted from Seabrook battling through various injuries in prior years.
The 35-year-old blueliner appeared to be nearing a return when he participated in Blackhawks training camp before the team headed off to the Edmonton bubble for the expanded 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Seabrook ultimately did not join the team’s playoff roster, but his presence at camp provided some optimism that he would be able to hit the ice during the 2020-21 season.
Then Seabrook hit another bump in the road as the team prepared to reconvene in mid-January. In a recent interview with Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman stated that Seabrook tweaked his back “a day or two before [training camp].” The 15-year NHL veteran missed training camp, landed on the injured reserve list ahead of the season, and has not returned to on-ice team activities yet.
Bowman further elaborated on the uncertainty of Seabrook’s injury by stating, “I don’t have an idea on when he’s going to be back with us.”
Adding a back injury to a list of ailments that already resulted in shoulder surgery and two hip surgeries? That notion has the Blackhawks worried about Seabrook. “We’re very concerned for him…He was playing through a lot of pain those years, and it’s caught up to him,” Bowman said.
While such verbiage may be alarming for Blackhawks fans — and rightfully so — Bowman didn’t imply that this is the end of the road for Seabrook. A return to team practices is still “the plan and the goal,” according to the Hawks’ GM.
Though no one knows precisely when that plan will be set into motion, Seabrook is staying involved with the team. Bowman noted Seabrook is still providing feedback and a veteran voice for the Blackhawks’ predominantly young roster. Hopefully Seabrook will be able to join his teammates back on the ice at some point down the road.