Why is circus trip such a circus?

November, 19, 2009
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
Patrick Sharp wasn’t wrong to think that when he first heard this November road trip was called the “circus trip” he thought it was because the Chicago Blackhawks bounced around the Western half of the continent like Barnum and Bailey. When you have to pack for Edmonton and Southern California in the same trip, you know you’re in for a long one.
Over the years, Hawks' seasons have been lost on this trip, never to be found again. But if there ever was a time the Hawks might return with a winning record, this could be the year, right? Or is it?
[+] EnlargeBrent Seabrook
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrent Seabrook says the hectic schedule is probably the toughest part of the Blackhawks' annual circus trip.

All you have to know about the history of this trip is the last time the Hawks went to the Finals, in 1992, they went 0-5 on the circus trip. The season before, when they had the most points in the NHL, they went 5-1. That, by far, is the best record on this trip in the past 25 years.

In fact, there have been only two other times the Hawks have had a winning record in those 25 years. I’m not counting last year because they went 3-2-1. That’s 3-3 in my book. Three times they had zero points and six times they had no wins. Starting to get the picture?

Of course, the question is, why is it so hard to win -- even with good Hawks teams? The answer, if there is one, might lie in the schedule. Even though there’s usually one break for some travel, the games come fast and furious.

“I think it’s just handling those three games in four nights,” Brent Seabrook said before the team left on the trip. “It’s definitely a grind, and its tough bouncing from city to city, obviously, but it’s definitely something we’ve learned to deal with as a group. We‘re a young team, so we’re all growing up together, learning to deal with it and I think that helps a lot too.”

This time around there are two sets of three games in four nights and two sets of back-to-back games. It makes it almost impossible to do much better than .500, and if fatigue creeps in towards the end, it’s a formula for a losing trip. See the last 25 years and specifically last season.

After sweeping the first three games, the Hawks laid a dud, finishing the last leg 0-2-1. All a coach can do is emphasize the obvious and use a cliché that can be easier said than done.

“I think it’s going to be a real challenge for us,” Joel Quenneville said. “You take it one game at a time. We’re going into a building where I’m sure Calgary is going to be excited to play us, and I think it will be an exciting game for us as well. We want to get off to a good start, and we want to emphasize the importance of the game one at a time but it’s a big trip for us.”

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.



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Patrick Kane
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