From 2009-17, the Blackhawks appeared in nine consecutive postseasons, five Conference Finals and captured three Stanley Cups. Even the years after they won championships, the Blackhawks took each of those final series' to seven games before being dethroned. They're just used to winning.
So when the Blackhawks were officially eliminated from playoff contention in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the Kane and Toews era, it didn't sit well with the veterans who have always looked forward to this time of year. They want to get back to playing meaningful hockey in April and beyond.
Here's the reaction from the Blackhawks' core players on missing the playoffs again:
Captain Jonathan Toews:
"It’s disappointing, for sure. Having gone through what we went through last year, it was a lot of excitement and a lot of motivation trying to turn things around, coming into this year fresh and learning from or mistakes. But obviously there’s still some growing and some improvement and some experience we need to go through. I think that’s the biggest thing is letting this sink in and really identifying where we’ve gone wrong. There’s a lot of positives this season that we clearly didn’t see last year, whether it’s young guys stepping up and assuming more of a leadership position and feeling more comfortable in the locker room, and the guys that have been here for a while learning that no one really cares what you did years ago. We’ve gotta keep pushing ourselves to get better and better. The league’s getting better, our division’s getting better, so it’s tough. It’s a tough league. You’ve gotta give it everything you have and keep learning from some of your shortfalls.”
"It's tough. It's just crazy that our season's gonna be over in five days and that's it for another year. Pretty frustrating, especially when I think a lot of us feel like we're in our prime and be able to contribute and had good seasons. But that's the way it is. There's obviously plays yourself you can look back at and say you could've done more here or there and had a bigger difference on the game. It's just the way it goes. Pretty disappointing for the second straight year not to be in the playoffs here and play hockey when it matters the most."
"That's not very good. It's something I don't think [any] of us were expecting. We were pretty confident going into the year. I know this group definitely has the potential to win again. I don't know, a lot of games slipped away this year. We lost a lot of big games too. We just try and finish it out, play as hard as we can and try to finish on a good note, play the right way. And we got to do our work in the summer. I guess come back prepared and ready. ... For us, we want to win another Cup. Came up real short obviously."
Head coach Jeremy Colliton:
"We'd rather be in. I think we've had a pretty good second half but the hole was a little too deep. ... You can't win the Cup if you're not in. But I'll probably summarize it at the end. Now we got some games left to continue to improve, to continue to establish a mentality and a standard of how we want to play every night. So that's what we're going to focus on."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.