Photograph by: Jamie Squire, Getty Images

A thought crossed my mind last week.  We sit here writing about this and that, and our readers loyally glance over our opinions and our pieces each and every day, but we (or at least I) have never opened up the floor to the fans to ask questions.

Earlier this week, I posted an update on Joel Quenneville’s Mustache giving fans an opportunity to ask any questions they want about the Blackhawks, hockey, or life in general.

I spent the next few days answering some of these questions, and picking a few of them to share with the world on Cheer the Anthem.  So, without further ado, here are your questions:

Dillon Borham asked, “Do you think the Hawks will make a move for a new #1 Goalie over the summer? If yes, who do you think is most likely to move to the Hawks?”

Dillon, had you asked me this a few months ago, I would have likely said, “No way.  Crawford is our guy.”  Now, I really have to start taking this question seriously.  When he’s on, he’s terrific.  When he’s not on, well, we all know how painful that can be.  I have no doubt in my mind that Crawford is a headcase right now.  You can see it in his eyes after he gets pulled.  The frustration is clearly evident in his facial expressions, and you can tell that he WANTS to do better.  This gives me clarity over one important question: it’s not a matter of effort or will.  It’s a matter of confidence (or lack thereof) for Crawford. Right now, I can’t really comment on the Blackhawks’ moves for a goalie.  I think it all depends on how they finish the year and how Crawford performs in the playoffs, backing up Emery.  If his lack of confidence continues to be an issue for him, then I do see the Hawks potentially moving Crawford and making an offer to someone like Cory Schneider this summer.  Why Cory Schneider?  Well, for one thing, he’s a 25 year old tender who has consistently put up excellent numbers backing up Roberto Luongo.  Secondly, he is a free agent this summer, and there would be no bigger slap in the face to Vancouver than us snagging their tender from them, while they are stuck with Luongo’s horrendously untradeable contract until 2017-2018.  My money says Bowman waits to add some competent and consistent defensemen in front of Crawford to help him get his swagger back before he gives up on the kid.

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Jerry from Dekalb asked, “With Johnny Oyuda being a free agent following this season, it is obvious Stan Bowman is still managing the cap very well. That said, the Hawks still have needs (2C, defense, goalie). I still believe Patrick Kane can succeed as a center, where he was extremely creative and scored a ton of points (mainly assists). So where can we expect Bowman to use that cap space, come the off season? Seems like a defender and goalie make the most sense right now.”

Jerry, a defender and a goalie definitely make the most sense right now.  Both areas have clearly been the weak spots for the Hawks this season.  Sometimes they play fantastic, other times both are headcases and completely inconsistent.  I completely agree with you about addressing these problem spots.  In my opinion, here is the order of importance for this summer: defense, goalie, center, left wing.  I don’t put so much emphasis on the center position right now, because I do feel that Kane is capable of playing it if he continues to backcheck and play defense like he has been in the last few games.  Not to mention, there are a few capable centers in the Blackhawks organization who need a little more time to become NHL material but will be ready very soon.

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Daniel Beckman asked, “I don’t know how this works but I would assume the starting goalie gets the most time with the goaltending coach. If that is the case, could you make the argument that in the last 3 years Stephane Waite has caused goal tenders to regress?”

No, I don’t think it’s fair to make that argument at all.  Like I said before, Crawford’s issue is not a lack of skill.  He’s not a bad tender.  I just think Crawford has had his confidence shattered this year by his defense hanging him out to dry.  Corey had better numbers last season and came up big when he was promoted to starter.  Also take a look at what Niemi did in the playoffs as a rookie.

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Rob from Crystal Lake asked, “What’s it like living out of market and not being able to watch the Hawks on the Com?”

Rob, it’s really not that bad for me.  For one thing, I live in Milwaukee and can get back to Chicago in less than two hours.  I come home to visit friends and family basically every weekend anyway and have attended more Hawks games this season than any other in my lifetime.  Plus, I have NHL Center Ice so I get to catch all the weekday Hawks games on the Com anyway.

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Daniel Bebek asked, “What is your opinion of the Vancouver Canucks?”

Well, Daniel, the short answer is that I don’t like them; the long answer is that I don’t like their fans.  Sure, I like ripping on Luongo and the Sedins.  Sure, I call out Burrows out for being a hair-pulling, hand-biting coward.  I mock Bieksa and Kesler every time we play them for pretending to be “team tough guy” and then cowering when someone wants to drop the gloves with them.  I admittedly do all these things, but I do these things playfully as a fan and don’t actually loathe these guys (with the exception of Burrows) as much as it would appear.  In short, I’m a fan having fun as a fan and heckling the rival players and that’s it.  It’s not so much the team that drives me crazy in Vancouver.  I am a bit torn when I say this and should probably watch my mouth, because I have family in Vancouver who are Canucks fans, but Vancouver “fans” drive me UP THE WALL.  I put fans in quotation marks, because there are two very distinctly different groups of Vancouver fans.  There are the good fans, who go to the games, cheer their team on, get in their cars after the game, and drive home.  Then, there are the degenerate “fans” who go to the games, belligerently cheer their team on, go to the streets, start fires, assault police, riot, draw phallic symbols on churches of rival teams’ players, and then gloat bout their accomplishments on social networking sites.  Oh yeah, and THEY DO THIS TO THEIR OWN CITY.  Bunch.  Of.  Idiots.  It’s a shame that these “fans” have to ruin it for the true fans in Vancouver, a very classy bunch with whom I have had a great number of very civil hockey conversations.

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Jackie asked, “What is your favorite thing about the Blackhawks or hockey in general?”

Jackie, can I say “everything” without sounding cliche?  It’s true.  I have loved hockey since the first time my dad took me to an NHL game when I was in kindergarten.  It was a Hartford Whalers game in the Hartford Civic Center.  Man did they suck.  Did I notice or care?  Hell no.  There is nothing quite like seeing a hockey game in person.  No other sport matches up.  The speed, the intensity, the camaraderie in the stands and on the ice.  It’s just an incredible experience.  When I moved to Chicago and went to my first Hawks game, it was pretty overwhelming.  The place was so loud.  The fans were boisterous and so into the game.  My favorite thing about the Blackhawks is their fans.  Whether I’m hanging out in the 300 level or watching the game at a bar anywhere around Chicago, I can pretty much always assume that there will be some good people around to talk about hockey. That’s what makes Chicago awesome in my opinion.  Blackhawks fans are great, the atmosphere in the UC is unbeatable, and the sport is the greatest on the planet.

I could argue and have argued about why hockey is the greatest sport on the planet for hours.  Its mixture of speed, agility, finesse, power, and strength is just incredible.  The brotherhood that forms between players on the ice is unparalleled.  HBO’s 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic summed up everything that I love about hockey with these words, “Never get caught telling a hockey player it’s just a game. Never get caught trying to explain to him all the things in the world that matter so much more. His mind might well acknowledge the truth to your point, but his soul will be powerless to accept it considering the immensity of what he gives to the sport and all it offers in return. Nothing ever feels as perfect as a moment of flawlessness on the ice. No bond is strong as one that compels brothers to bleed for one another.