Editor/founder of Cheer the Anthem, season ticket holder in Section 326 and full-time sports writer who lists June 9, 2010, as one of the greatest days of his life. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posts by Bartl
**** Sam Fels of Second City Hockey gave me some space in his wonderful creation, The Committed Indian, for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Here’s my column. Don’t be cheap and purchase one outside the UC for $3 if you’re headed there tonight. GO ‘HAWKS!
Despite all the departures, I don’t think anyone believed the Blackhawks would be stumbling into November hovering around the .500 mark. Things sure as shit haven’t been ideal and right now, this isn’t a Stanley Cup contender.
Fortunately, the NHL doesn’t hand out the Stanley Cup in November. Through 16 games last season the Blackhawks were 9-5-2 – not much difference from this season — Antti Niemi’s balls hadn’t dropped yet and Cam Barker still skated on the third pairing.
Lots of things can change between now and June – and they have to. As much as we all sit and point farts in the direction of Stan Bowman, we know he knows, too. And we know the players know it.
So, with that in mind, I present you with 10 Reasons Why the Blackhawks Can Repeat. I’m not saying they will repeat, so don’t come trying to chop my head off if the ‘Hawks are on their couches come June. Agree, disagree, whatever. Sam gave me the space for tonight, you paid for the damn thing, so you will listen to every single word I have to say.
John Scott and Nick Boynton
Total joke. These two worthless piles of shit hopefully won’t be around come March. I’m actually hoping Scott murders Boynton and is sent to jail for life. Then we won’t have to worry about either of them. Now that I have your attention…
Patrick Kane will start to give a shit
Partying with his best friend Jack Daniels and a summer of casual sex may still be on his mind, but Kaner isn’t far off his pace from last season. After 16 games, he had 16 points (4G, 12A). He’s behind, but not by much.
The problem is that his attitude seems to be different. He looks like he’s ready for the bar as soon as he steps on the ice. I personally think his “20 Cent” incident last offseason had him coming out of the gate with fire in his eyes. After winning the Cup and being loved for scoring the winner, he may seem a bit more casual. Rather than playing with something to prove on top of his ridiculous talent, he’s simply playing on talent.
Despite all of his nonsense, Kaner is a competitive SOB. He’s not happy where the team is right now, and his attitude will change. I’m certain of it. Last season’s, “I’m going to score on you, and there’s nothing you can do about it” attitude will come out – and soon.
Marian Hossa is, well, Marian Hossa
Hopefully while you’re reading this, Hossa is on the ice somewhere. Before he got hurt, Hossa was the best player in the NHL. He was doing everything right, scoring goals, finding teammates… it was beautiful to watch. The ‘Hawks haven’t been the same without him. They’ve looked like they’ve been missing something.
That something has been Hossa’s “Yeah, I’m doing this, you can watch if you’d like” style of play. The Blackhawks have Marian Hossa, the other teams don’t. Advantage: ‘Hawks.
Patrick Sharp is extremely handsome… and good
I remember saying at about the midway point of last season that Sharp has the offensive talent to be a 40-goal scorer. He just may accomplish the feat this season – and look good doing it.
I understand he can be better in his own zone, which his plus/minus proves. But his offense is what’s going to help the Blackhawks, and he hasn’t disappointed thus far.
Jonathan Toews won’t let this bullshit continue
I’m not talking about his performance on the ice – though the ‘Hawks could use some more offensive production from Tazer. I’m talking about that ‘C’ on his chest which he’s shown he’s well deserving of having. With all the new faces in the locker room, I’m assuming he’s simply waiting for the right time to start putting people in their place.
Duncan Keith recently said it’s taking some time for everyone to jell – both on and off the ice – and the Blackhawks are struggling because of it. Toews isn’t going to stand for much more of that excuse. This team is a bunch of professionals and they’re expected to mesh with whatever situation they’re thrust into. Tazer will do his job and right the ship.
Marty Turco may give you heart failure, but he’s a very serviceable goalie
The flailing, the flopping, the sometimes recklessness with the puck … I know, it can be taxing on blood pumper. His style is similar to Tim Thomas of Boston, which has been said to not but suitable for a playoff grind.
It’s true, Turco hasn’t had much playoff success. But Turco has come up with big saves while facing a lot more shots than he and any of us thought he’d be facing. Turco is far from the reason the Blackhawks are roughly mediocre right now. He’s kept some games closer than they should’ve been, and he has the talent, experience and determination to earn a ring to help the ‘Hawks through the season.
Brian Campbell is back
Without him, the Blackhawks were giving up an alarming amount of shots and changing up the defensive pairings seemingly every night. His absence was more than noticeable. Does anyone find it coincidental the ‘Hawks began rolling in the playoffs once Campbell came back last season? His return is the reason I believe …
Niklas Hjalmarsson will start playing up to his contract
Hammer’s left a lot to be desired since the ‘Hawks matched San Jose’s offer sheet, but I refuse to put all the blame on him. He hasn’t been able to play with the same cohesiveness with his defensive partner as he did nearly all of last season with Campbell.
Super Nintendo Hjalmers is a very heady player who is fundamentally sound and isn’t afraid to absorb contact in order to make the correct play. Though he hasn’t lived up to his new salary, look for Hammer to return to form with Campbell returning.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will play like the best D tandem in the NHL
Campbell’s injury forced Keith and Seabrook to play ungodly amounts of minutes, mainly because the units behind them were simply far less talented. They even had to be split up at times to try and make up for the deficiency.
Keith is still the Norris Trophy winner for a reason, and he’s near the top of the league in assists. His decision-making has been questionable, and Seabrook has appeared to be a bit lazy and getting beat on plays he normally wouldn’t.
Fatigue can’t be ignored in this situation. They’re the best tandem in the league when they’re on top of their game, and I can’t see some of the sloppiness continuing much longer.
Everything will fall into place by mid-January.
The ‘Hawks basically wrapped up the Central with a 10-4-1 January last season with Hossa hitting full stride after returning from injury. Hopefully the Blackhawks can stay healthy and won’t have to worry about that sort of thing. However, the new faces should have meshed with the stars by this point, and everyone should understand their roles. There’s a reason the stars are the stars, and they make people better. We’re not seeing the immediate effects, but by January we should be seeing some solid results.
No matter what, this team will be dangerous come June.
Put a defending Stanley Cup champion in the playoffs and anything can happen. Last season, some wondered if the ‘Hawks were too young and inexperienced to win it all. Well, there went that idea.
Now think of a young team coming off a Cup win and hungry enough to want to repeat. Five of the last six President’s Trophy winners haven’t won gone all the way, so forget regular-season record.
I know it may seem harder than it sounds with the Central Division being as strong as it is this season. But if the Blackhawks can get in the playoffs, they’ll make some noise. They have the talent to win a finesse series, the ability to win a speed series and the toughness to win a physical series.
Stealing a quote, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”
Contact Bartl sits in Section 326. Go buy him a beer or contact him at Jeffrey.Bartl@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlackhawksUp
I’m going to add more to “Boxing” tonight, simply because this diarrhea-inducing excuse for a performance deserves more than some quick whit.
The amount of flabby ass left on the ice tonight is starting to become all too familiar, which is piss-poor for a defending Stanley Cup champion. I don’t want to hear anymore about how this team needs to jell, and I don’t want to hear anymore about what the Blackhawks DON’T have that could be contrived as an excuse.
The ‘Hawks handed over two points in their 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils, a team that had scored three goals ONCE before tonight. The Devils’ all-world goaltender Martin Brodeur left with an injury in the second period, and he wasn’t challenged all that much to begin with when Johan Hedberg relieved him.
I don’t care if Marian Hossa is out. I don’t care that Dave Bolland is out. I don’t care that half of last year’s Cup team is spread around the NHL this season. The Blackhawks have three gold medalists, including the Olympic MVP and Conn Smythe winner, a silver medalist and electrifying goal-scorer, a Norris Trophy winner, a defenseman worthy of a $7-million-per-year salary and a very handsome man taking the ice every night. Few teams in the NHL boast this, especially when most of the aforementioned accomplishments came from players under 29.
All of that is more than good enough to make up for/help out the role players on this team, or any team for that matter. There’s so much talent that’s playing patty-cake night in and night out that is making me sick to my stomach. I hate talking like this, and I hate being this guy. However, there’s only so much I can take before I start getting insanely pissed.
The Devils came into the UC tonight without stud muffin Zach Parise and looking like a team that could barely beat the Chicago Wolves. Yet, the Blackhawks displayed enough laziness and poor decision-making to fart away what should have been a sure victory to a team far, far less talented.
I mentioned before the season started that QStache was really going to have to earn his money this year. So far, there’s nothing for which I can pat him on the back. This isn’t the same strategic team as it was last year. Anyone who watches sports has seen teams with less talent win games and championships simply because of coaching and strategy. This Blackhawks team won’t do it. Q needs to start coaching to what he has, rather than forcing players into roles they’re not suited for and have no chance to succeed.
Tonight’s loss exposed all the bullshit within that team. They’re not playing like they want to defend the Cup and keep it here in Chicago. They seem content with bringing it to bars, clubs and on TV this past summer and letting someone else experience their fun this coming June. There’s no urgency. There’s no heart. There’s nothing that was the staple of this team last season. And the reason that’s inexcusable is because the main core of this team is still the intact.
So, with that, here’s your fucking “Boxing.” As always, there are two separate images — one for the summary, one for the actual box score. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Well, that was just frustrating. There’s really no better way to describe it.
If you’re going to give up a goal in the last 20 seconds of a period, take a penalty at the end of a period and then give up a game-winner after tying the game 28 seconds earlier, how the living fuck are you going to expect to win a game?
Adding to that, the Rangers played without Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss Monday to the New York Rangers spoiled the return of Brian Campbell, who looked like, well, like he’s been out for a long time. However, he did play well, and you can’t expect much out of a guy who hasn’t dressed yet this season.
Unfortunately, Sean Avery was not taken out by a sniper during the game, which was something I actually bowed my head and prayed would happen before the game started.
Without further ado, here’s your latest edition of “Boxing.”
As always, there are two separate images — one for the summary, one for the actual box score. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Eddie Olczyk stopped by the NHL Live studios in New York, and said on the show that Brian Campbell will be playing tonight at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes QStache gives him and/or how many the doctors have cleared him to play. Either way, having watched Nick Boynton and John Scott fart all over the ice this season, even just a few minutes of Soupy would be a welcome site.
Tim should have your full preview later today.
Welcome back, Soupy.
UPDATE: A guy with actual big-boy credentials, Tim Sassone, puts up a blog stating Campbell’s return benefits Niklas Hjalmarsson the most, seeing has he’s currently a minus-8.
This edition of “Boxing” is a bit more wordy in order to make it more recap-like. There’s just not a ton to write about the Blackhawks’ 3-1 win Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The game was so boring, it’s hard to even try and make shit up that’s funny.
Either way, here’s it goes. As always, there are two separate images — one for the summary, one for the actual box score. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Here’s your “Boxing” from the Blackhawks diarrhea-inducing 7-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Please note there will be no preview for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Tim is out of town and I’m watching the Michigan State vs. Iowa game. You’ll live.
As always, there are two separate images — one for the summary, one for the actual box score. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Sorry, sorry, sorry for getting this up so late. Tim put together a good recap and I’m having so much sympathy for Marian Hossa getting hurt that I’m starting to get sick. Without further ado, here’s your “Boxing” from Wednesday night’s Blackhawks 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings.
As always, there are two separate images — one for the summary, one for the actual box score. Click on the image to enlarge it.
I’ve lived by a notion for quite some time. There’s no right or wrong, but there’s a general understanding I believe should be accepted by an avid supporter of any franchise.
It’s the Theory of the Three-Year Grace Period. It’s fairly simple, and the Chicago Blackhawks are the perfect example.
If I had to come up with a general overview of the Theory, it would go something like this: If the franchise you support wins a championship, you have no right to get angry or upset regarding any player decisions — excluding “star players” — made by management for a period of three years.
To be more clear, the Theory does not include coaching decisions. For instance, I can be completely perplexed and question QStache for jumbling the lines or, more importantly, why the living hell he continues to scratch Jordan Hendry when John Scott noticeably sucks.
Here are the general principles:
Players are often forgotten, but championships are remembered forever.
If you’re a supporter of a franchise, you’ll remember the exact place you were and whom you were with when your team wins a championship. I can tell you the exact places I was when the Chicago Bulls won all six of their titles in the 1990s, and I’ll always remember where I was on June 9, 2010. None of those memories will ever, ever go away.
However, I have no idea where Bobby Hansen went for the 1992-93 season after sparking the Bulls to a fourth-quarter rally in Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals. He’s long been forgotten. And in 10-15 years, I challenge you to remember where Brent Sopel went after the ‘Hawks won the Cup. But in 10 years, you’ll still remember where you were and whom you were with when the ‘Hawks ended their 49-year title drought.
Repeating championships are nice, but it’s a greedy thought.
Sometimes we forget how hard it is to win one championship, let alone two, three, four, etc. And for a long-suffering Blackhawks fan, I can’t see how that’s possible. Do you realize how long 49 years is?
It’s very easy for a fan to become entitled and spoiled by a championship. Many great athletes played their entire career without winning a championship, and many franchises with extremely large fan bases have gone years without a single title *cough* Cubs *cough.*
As a fan, take your title and be happy for a little while. A repeat is just gravy. In the case of Blackhawks fans, enjoy the Stanley Cup we currently have and enjoy some good hockey. Take in the banner when you go to the United Center. Watch your championship DVD. Re-watch Game 6 on your DVR. You’ll enjoy it just as much as you did live.
If you think your franchise stopped liking winning, you’re stupid.
Every management representative of the franchise you support wants to win again. If you think you want to win, multiply it by 100 and you’ll come close to knowing how they feel. Not only do they feel a sense of pride, but they get very rich by winning. If management makes moves, it’s either because they’re forced by player demands/league rules which would financially over-extend the franchise or break rules, OR because it’s simply at management’s discretion the player be moved.
And since the management of your franchise made the right personnel moves the season before which won you the championship you’ll never forget, I’d say there’s a decent head on that person’s shoulders.
If I had to come with FAQs on the Theory, here’s what it would look like:
If my team made the finals, do I live by the Theory?
No. Simply playing for a championship does not qualify you to live by the Theory. The reason being that your team was THAT close to a title, and you have every right to challenge and question management for making offseason or in-season moves that you feel may bring down the chances of winning a title. For example, Philadelphia Flyers fans can challenge and question with great vigor any player moves made.
Can I still be upset about the actual play of the new/current players and be just as passionate about my team winning another championship?
Of course. It’s the reason we love sports so much. Some players — new or remaining — are just terrible, and teams are forced to win titles in spite of those players. However, to say, “Damn, we should have kept Departed Player X rather than get this asshole,” is not right. As previously stated in the general principles, the move was made for a reason by the management who gave you the championship you’ll never forget.
Why is it the Theory of the Three-Year Grace Period and not four, five, six, etc.?
Three years for a championship team is plenty of time to reload/rebuild/find a new direction to win another title. If a franchise had to over-extend itself to win you the title you’ll never forget, management deserves time to be able to do what’s right by them to keep the franchise running successfully, though it may not feasibly be at a championship level.
If your team has not won another title within those three years, you have every right to challenge and question moves heading into the fourth year of the drought. After all, we’re still supportive fans and paying customers who help feed the franchise money. Especially since we’re living in a “I want it right now!” society, three years is more than enough time.
* * * *
The Theory can be difficult to live by for fans, including myself. I questioned the Blackhawks sending Nick Leddy to Rockford when he was more than serviceable during his stint, especially because Brian Campbell is out with an injury. Nick Boynton and Scott are worthless. In my mind, I couldn’t justify the decision. Then I checked out my Stanley Cup Champions t-shirt, and I immediately began to trust Stan Bowman.
However, I will never, ever, ever complain about the ‘Hawks trading Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager or Andrew Ladd, letting Adam Burish sign with Dallas or walking away from Antti Niemi. I made it pretty clear why simply based on what the Blackhawks had left to compete this season. But beyond that, I trust Bowman. I trust his hockey mind and I trust what he needs to do in order to stay competitive yet stay within financial compliance.
The bottom line is that I keep hearing a lot about how we should have kept one or more of the above players mentioned when the Blackhawks struggle. And the memory of people questioning the signing of Marian Hossa at the expense of letting Martin Havlat walk even furthers my point that management is smarter than us — no matter hard it is for us to admit.
I want to see the Blackhawks repeat as Stanley Cup champions as much as the next person. I probably think about it so much it borders on being unhealthy.
But if they are hoisting the Cup in 2011, management put the players on the ice, not us. And if they’re not? Well, that Stanley Cup champions t-shirt still looks pretty sweet.
Admittedly, I spent most of this weekend focused on on a college reunion for the Michigan State vs. Northwestern game and wasn’t focused on the Blackhawks. The problem with that? I still saw enough shitting the bed that annoyed me.
The winning streak was nice, but the shortcomings we’ve been pointing out during those wins ultimately came back to bite us in the ass Friday night against the St. Louis Blues during the 4-2 loss in Chicago Jr. Then, Columbus did its best impression of the ‘Hawks, coming back from two goals down Saturday to beat us 3-2 at the UC.
Here’s my brief Sunday morning recap of what I saw. And this is all assuming you watched the games, so if you’re looking for a traditional recap check the Blackhawks’ official site….
♦ David Perron continues to shove his stick directly up my ass for dropping him on my fantasy team by killing the ‘Hawks. The asshole has all of his four goals and four of his five points in two games against the Blackhawks. I only have myself to blame. Well, actually…
♦ Nick Boynton is officially playing like the guy who’s been a castoff for a few teams over the past few seasons, sat in Rockford for most of last season and was a healthy scratch whenever possible during the ‘Hawks Cup run. How Jen Patterson wants any part of this guy is beyond me, especially if she’s ever seen him lace up his skates. Boynton is constantly out of position, and because of that is flailing around the ice most of the time wondering where he should go next.
He pinches when he shouldn’t pinch, he falls for the slightest of fakes and is so slow Hans Moleman could run him down. He played like a complete pile of dog shit in both games this weekend, and the best part of the Blackhawks having the next three days off is that I don’t have to watch Boynton attempt to be a hockey player.
♦ I’m not sure how many of you thought you’d ever say this, but Tomas Kopecky being out Saturday seemed to hurt the ‘Hawks. His absence did allow for Kane/Toews/Sharp to get back together for the night and allowed Dave Bolland to get back with Marian Hossa and Troy Brouwer. But as much shit as Kopecky gets, he still plays solid, pretty fundamental hockey, which seemed to be lacking toward the end of the second and into the third.
♦ Speaking of Bolland, any excuses for his poor performance to date can officially be thrown out the window. Talk all you want about him centering players who aren’t as talented like Fernando Pisani and Bryan Bickell, but Saturday he skated with one of the league’s top goal scorers and a guy who should have been playing on the top two lines all season long. Bolland’s 41.4 faceoff percentage is atrocious, and he simply looks like a kid skating around that needs a haircut.
Bolland has one goal and one assist in 10 games and I’m about ready to start calling out QStache to make him a healthy scratch to set him straight. It’s becoming a nightmare to watch.
♦ Patrick Sharp is playing out of his mind. He’s tied with Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead in goals and continues to be a very handsome man.
♦ On the other hand, Hossa has slowed down and has now been held without a point in three straight games.
♦ Both Marty Turco and Corey Crawford played well in their starts this weekend — especially Crawford. The kid gave us every opportunity to win and each of the three goals he gave up came on defensive lapses. Turco’s performance was solid in St. Louis, but he needs to stop the Blues’ third goal hands down. I understand there was traffic, but that’s the second time this season — including the home opener against Detroit — that he let a weak shot trickle five-hole for the game-winner.
♦ Don’t look now, but Kopecky has more points than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. This includes Saturday night’s game when Toews had a goal and an assist in a game when Kopecky sat out. Kane hasn’t scored a goal in five games. I’m assuming this won’t continue for the rest of the season. However, if it does, the short blonde guy swinging from a noose off the Michael Jordan statue will be me.
♦ I understand Duncan Keith is leading the NHL by averaging nearly a half hour of ice time (29:44), but he’s slapping that puck around like he’s thinking, ”I won the Norris, so I can do whatever I want.” Now, to be clear, I don’t think Keith is the type of guy who thinks that way. However, he’s sure as hell playing like it. He’s attempting to force pucks in places they have no business going even if there weren’t three opponents in the way, and I’m failing to remember a time when I thought to myself, “Man, Duncs played really well tonight.”
♦ This is just hilarious. Adam Burish apologizes for being a shitty video-game character.
Ok, I’m about done here. A combined edition of “Boxing” will be up tomorrow morning, then you can expect something from Tim either tomorrow or Tuesday.
Sorry for getting this up so late, but I had some car issues I had to work with yesterday and there was a bunch of other shit going on that you don’t care about. So, here’s your latest edition of “Boxing” from the Blackhawks’ shootout win Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
There are two separate images — one for the Summary and one for the Box. Click on the images to enlarge them.