Blackhawks in disarray on Thanksgiving with Taylor Hall out for season, Corey Perry absent

Blackhawks in disarray on Thanksgiving with Taylor Hall out for season, Corey Perry absent

The Blackhawks’ Thanksgiving week has become such a nightmare that it feels more like Halloween.

The Hawks have lost five consecutive games, including an embarrassing 7-3 defeat Wednesday against a Blue Jackets team that had previously lost nine in a row.

They’ll be without Taylor Hall, arguably their second-best forward, for the rest of the season. He’ll have surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

And a cloud of controversy and confusion hangs over the team because of alternate captain Corey Perry’s absence, which began with a suspicious healthy scratch Wednesday, continued at practice Thursday and doesn’t seem likely to end soon.

A season that began with such long-term excitement over Connor Bedard’s arrival — excitement that morphed into tempered short-term optimism that the team might be competitive this season after some impressive October victories — has devolved into another turbulent mess reminiscent of the 2022-23 tank season.

The bright spots represented by Bedard’s continued success and the three rookie defensemen’s steady improvement should be enough to keep the season at least more interesting than 2022-23, but the stunning rate at which things have unraveled serves as a forehead-smacking reminder of how far this organization still has to go.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys, so it’s kind of a shock at first,” winger Nick Foligno said Thursday. “But it’s [about] being a pro. We talk about it, and this is an opportunity to do that. It’s the outside noise that you have to push away.”

Added coach Luke Richardson: “[The] injury list on our board goes to zero, and as soon as you say that — you should never say it — it goes to five people the next day. You have to scramble, and it takes a little while for the team to reset. It’s not an excuse; it’s pro sports. You have to be able to do that on the fly.”

The Black Friday matinee against the high-flying Maple Leafs, winners of four in a row, has the potential to get ugly.

The Hawks’ decisive, eye-opening win in Toronto a month ago feels like a distant memory. A performance even remotely similar to that would be an encouraging sign about this team’s resilience and togetherness.

With regard to Hall, the 32-year-old former MVP battled through a shoulder injury during the first few weeks of the season, then suffered his initial knee injury Nov. 9 against the Lightning.

He returned for the Hawks’ back-to-back last weekend against the Predators and Sabres, playing around 17 minutes in both games but looking sluggish, before apparently aggravating the injury during practice Tuesday.

“He’s very disappointed, but [it] just came from an accumulation of a bunch of little injuries,” Richardson said. “It just became [so] unstable that they have to fix that now.”

Hall’s stat line this season will be four points in 10 games — not exactly what the Hawks expected when acquiring him to be Bedard’s right-hand man and playmaking companion. Bedard called the news heartbreaking on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the Perry front, Richardson — who called Perry’s scratch an “organizational decision” Wednesday — declined to answer questions about it Thursday, saying they’ll keep the details “internal.”

Foligno, one of the Hawks’ three other alternate captains, said that he didn’t know the reason for Perry’s absence but that Perry was not with the team.

“We just know he’s not with us,” Foligno said. “We haven’t really gotten any details. It’s unfortunate; he’s a big part of this. So we’ll miss him.”

With Hall, Perry and Andreas Athanasiou — who also was put on retroactive injured reserve Thursday because of a groin injury — sidelined, the Hawks called up Cole Guttman and Joey Anderson from Rockford and immediately put them on the second and third lines, respectively.

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