Olympic hangover? Hawks slumping

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- There are theories as to why the Chicago Blackhawks are slumping down the homestretch of the season, and one is that having six Olympians -- including four who played all the way through the gold-medal game -- has resulted in fatigue.

The Hawks, who were at or near the top of the Western Conference standings for much of the first half of the season, are 5-7-2 since the Olympic break.

"It's been a long season," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "Ever since the Olympic break, the games have gone by slowly.

"We had [14] games after the Olympic break, and you think it's going to go by so fast to get to the playoffs, but it really hasn't."

Kane was a member of Team USA, which lost in the gold-medal game to Chicago teammates Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith on Team Canada. Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky played for Slovakia.

"We can't use that as an excuse," Hossa declared. "There are so many hockey players on other teams that played in the Olympics, too.

"It is a tough schedule, but it's for everybody."

It's also been a tough schedule for the San Jose Sharks, who had five Olympians in the gold-medal game. The Sharks, who also have been flirting near the top of the West standings for most of the season, are 7-6-1 since the break.

And it's been the Olympians on both teams who have struggled. The four Hawks who played for the gold are a combined minus-22, while the five Sharks are a minus-7.

"If you ask anybody in here, you can say it's been a long season, but at the same time, you wouldn't want to be doing anything else," Kane said. "It's the life we live, and what a life it is. It's exciting. We love playing hockey."

The Detroit Red Wings loved playing hockey in the 2005-06 season as they captured the President's Trophy for the most points in the regular season with 124. The Wings featured five players who won Olympic gold with Sweden that season. Whether it was fatigue or other circumstances, the Wings were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round.