Despite the surprising start by his young team, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Denis Savard gave his players something to think about over the All-Star Break.
A frustrated Savard called out his team after a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Blackhawks, who have now lost two games in a row, enter the All-Star Break in 14th place in the Western Conference with a record of 23-23-4.
"It doesn't matter how skilled you are, you have to want to battle," said Savard. "If you don't want to battle, you're not going to play here, period."
Due to the All-Star break, the Blackhawks will not be back on the ice again until Monday afternoon but Savard will likely want to see a better work ethic, especially from those players on big contracts.
"You have to want it," Savard said. "To gain an inch in this league, you have to want to do it. You have to want to work. It's going to be tough, you might get a cut, you might get bruised. So what? Last time I checked, they're getting pretty good money to do it."
While Savard did not single any players out, Martin Havlat and Tuomo Ruutu are two players who have sizeable contracts but have not produced up to expectations this season.
For years, the Blackhawks have struggled both on and off the ice but Savard is trying to change the culture in Chicago, where the Stanley Cup has not be seen since the 1960-61 season.
"Rocky (Wirtz) and John (McDonough's) and Dale (Tallon's) message is pretty clear: We're here to win the Stanley Cup, Savard added. "If they want to play like that, we aren't going to win the Stanley Cup."