If you're a playoff contender, the NHL trade deadline is an exciting time of year. Players are excited to see which new faces will be added to the group for the stretch run and a Stanley Cup push.
If you're on the outside looking in, it can be a tough time. Nobody feels safe and it’s difficult to escape the noise, whether it's coming from social media, newspapers, blogs, on the radio or television. And if you don’t hear it, your families do.
Erik Gustafsson, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent, is the most likely Blackhawk who could be wearing a different sweater next week. He’s doing everything in his power to block out any rumors involving his name ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
"I kind of try not to look at the phone or hear anything on the TV or radio or anything, but it's hard," Gustafsson said. "It's on here every time too. But just like I said before, if this happens, it's happening. It's something I can't control. I want to stay in Chicago. I like it here."
Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have been two bright spots for the Blackhawks this season, but both of them are without a contract next season. Lehner, who has an .895 save percentage in four starts this month, admitted it's been challenging to just focus on hockey as the trade deadline nears and his future in Chicago remains uncertain.
"I mean, it's part of the game," Lehner said. "But yeah, for sure it is."
Sometimes we forget athletes are human, too. You can tell it’s weighing on the players’ minds, and the more the losses pile up, the louder the noise gets.
A lot of teams are dealing with it across the league, but it doesn't make it any easier.
"Of course there’s uncertainty and that’s for players and their families," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The group we have here, you like the people you’re around every day. But that’s part of the business."
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