The Blackhawks have been listing along for a few years now, riding the waves of mediocrity and teasing their fans with a splash of wins here and there.
So while it may not have been their intention, the organization definitely chose the perfect location to introduce Seth Jones to the media on Saturday — aboard Chicago’s First Lady tour boat on the Chicago River.
The superstar defenseman — acquired Friday from Columbus in a blockbuster deal — will cost the Hawks $9.5 million against the salary cap for eight years beginning in 2022-23.
Might that sink the Hawks’ ability to make moves in the future? Is a capsize on the horizon?
Or is this the move that begins a new era of smooth sailing?
OK, enough of that.
Saturday was all about Seth and brother Caleb getting a grand tour of the city. It began with them throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before the Cubs hosted the Diamondbacks and continued with the aforementioned 45-minute ride in the scorching heat.
“I didn’t realize it gets this hot in Chicago,” said Seth, who loved the experience at Wrigley. “We didn’t completely botch the first pitches. We threw a little high (to) make sure we got it there. It was a lot of fun.”
Which is exactly what the Joneses hope they experience with the Hawks.
Caleb, acquired from the Oilers, has played in 93 NHL games and will fight for ice time with Ian Mitchell, Riley Stillman, Wyatt Kalynuk, Nicolas Beaudin and others. Seth, who has 65 goals and 221 assists in 580 games, has been in the playoffs five of the last seven seasons. Four appearances came in Columbus, although the Blue Jackets did not qualify this year.
There are some who see Seth’s declining numbers as a warning sign and wonder if the Hawks paid too steep a price. In addition to the whopping contract GM Stan Bowman handed out, he also parted with Adam Boqvist, moved down 21 spots in the first round of Friday’s draft and gave the Blue Jackets a second-rounder and next year’s first-rounder (as long as it’s not No. 1 or 2 overall).
Seth definitely isn’t deaf to the criticism.
“Obviously there’s always going to be critics in your game,” Seth said. “You can choose not to listen; you can choose to listen. So of them are wrong; some of them aren’t. I’ll be the first one to say that.
“I just want to prove every single night that I’m going to work hard for this team no matter if I make the mistake or not.”
Obviously the Hawks aren’t expecting many mistakes from their new star. That goes without saying when you make him the third-highest paid D-man in the league (beginning in 2022).
The 26-year-old Jones says he’s still learning and believes he has yet to hit his peak.
“Offensively I can get a little bit better,” said Jones, who scored a combined 20 goals the last three seasons after notching 28 the previous two. “I’ve been really focusing on that the past few summers. …
“Offensive awareness-wise, try to hunker down on when to go and find little areas — soft areas — so I can make more offensive plays happen.”
Seth left most of the contract negotiations up to his agent, Pat Brisson, who also represents Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Asked why he zeroed in on the Hawks, Seth said: “(I trust) Stan to do a good job to put teams together and (I) have an opportunity to play with a couple Hall of Famers.
“(It’s) the whole package. I love coming to Chicago. It’s a great city, it’s a sports town. I’ve always dreamt about playing here. So I’m extremely excited that I’m finally in a Blackhawks jersey.”
There were a few lighter moments on the boat — the highlight being when the brothers’ mom happily twirled after they were asked if their family was excited about the trades.
“I got off the ice (yesterday) and I saw five missed calls from my mom,” Caleb said.
One thing’s or sure: More calls will come for Bowman to lose his job if Friday’s whopper of a deal turns out to be a dud.
But if it pans out?
Well, that’ll really float every fan’s boat.