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 email@example.com.
Posts by Bartl
Well, this officially sucks. It’s not even fun to watch. I pulled the hood over my head a few minutes into the third period. As I type this, the NHL On the Fly crew is calling the Blackhawks “weak.”
That’s actually a very good word to describe this team. They’re avoiding contact, not playing with any physicality, and look like there’s nothing keeping them motivated. Boos showered the ‘Hawks at the end of the second period. And why not? They deserved it.
Beyond that, the Blackhawks lost their seventh home game in regulation. They lost eight all of last season. The entire 2009-10 hockey season, they lost eight. They’re already at seven.
Duncan Keith must have developed an alcohol problem, because he’s playing drunk. Patrick Kane might as well have not played tonight. It’s really, really painful to watch — and that’s probably because it’s so shocking that we have no idea what to do anymore. These are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and they probably couldn’t even win a Shinny Stick tournament right now.
Without further ado, here’s another depressing 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.
NOTE: Sorry for no strict recap and/or Boxing. I was on vacation in Boston for a Bruins game and admittedly didn’t see much of either game this weekend. In fact, I still haven’t seen a highlight of the Thrashers game. It would be more of a disservice if I wrote about stuff I didn’t see. You’re alive, so you’ll be OK with that.
Sunday night, it took a matter of 14 seconds for the Edmonton Oilers to relieve the Blackhawks of their lead and take their own.
The clock on when we’re going to see the defending Stanley Cup champions is still ticking.
What is it I’m hoping for? I don’t know. I can’t say I’m demanding to see every semblance of dominance we saw last season when the Blackhawks were the best team in the NHL. I’m not going to start crying if Marty Turco isn’t “The One” or if the departed ‘Hawks succeed. Business decisions had to be made.
I will say I may have been a bit too harsh on some of our star players to date. Stars alone don’t win titles. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane didn’t win that Cup alone last season. I’m guilty of saying I want to see more out of them and Duncan Keith and the other top-tier talent the ‘Hawks possess. There’s a lot of it. I understand the role of a star player is to play like a star all the time. But even Michael Jordan had off nights.
It’s the off-the-ice stuff that needs the attention. No more talking about how they miss the old guys. No more talking about the new locker room and how it’s taking time to jell.
What I’m hoping for is the Blackhawks new faces and role players to start proving they’re impressed by that brand new banner hanging at the United Center. I want them to think back to the home opener when they stayed on the bench secluded from the players from the title team, and they watched the ring bearers witness something they’ll never forget.
I want them to start imagining that they’re on the ice at the 2011 home opener standing in the same spot and watching a banner be raised. It’s not to say they’re talented enough to make it happen, but it sure as hell doesn’t seem like they’re playing up to what’s now expected in Chicago. And they really don’t seem to be playing with the purpose of getting to that point.
And most of all, I want last year’s team members to starting telling the new faces why that’s so important.
There was a different look about last year’s champs. There were a lot of times the role players didn’t do their jobs and we got on them. However, they still had the fire in their eyes and the determination to accomplish that goal of winning the Cup. They always talked like it. Maybe they just knew the media and what had to be said, but everyone constantly talked about winning the Cup. It never went away.
Do you see that from the new faces yet? Do you see Fernando Pisani or John Scott or Viktor Stalberg have that look like, “Whatever I have to do, whatever these guys want me to do, I’ll do it because I want what they have”…?
I sure haven’t. And beyond that, it’s happening at home — where that banner hangs right above them as a constant reminder of the expectations surrounding anyone in a Blackhawks sweater.
I refuse to believe these Blackhawks that take the ice every night don’t have what it takes to win another Cup. Maybe it’s the superfan in me, but we’ve all seen flashes of brilliance from lots of those new guys. It’s the consistency that’s lacking. Last year’s ‘Hawks team was consistently good, then got great when they needed to be great.
This team is consistently mediocre, and they’ve gotten good at times. The personalities are different, sure. Last year’s team had a closeness about them that even the players have acknowledged is lacking at this point. Well, what are they going to do to regain that? Last year’s team didn’t know each other until they met. Seems like a stupid thing to say, right?
However, these guys are all professionals and share a locker room, and a city. Figure something out. Remember in that Seinfeld episode when Elaine referred to her and George as friends-in-law? Elaine then sat down with George and told Jerry afterward, “I wanted to talk about how we have nothing to talk about.” Well, do that if you have to. Get your shit together, and get it together fast.
Toews knows what I’m talking about:
“That motivation should be coming within our own locker room … we’re adults and we’re mature hockey players and when it’s time to light that fire, you know where… “
While the ‘Hawks find some lighter fluid, the Detroit Red Wings continue to win. The St. Louis Blues, of all the goddamn teams, are playing phenominal. The ‘Hawks are currently staring up at both their naked asses being waved in their proverbial face. I know, it’s early. But how many times have teams had rough starts in a good division and simply can’t catch up because the other teams above them continued to play well? It’s not uncommon. More often than not, a solid start leads to long-term success.
So, what’s it going to take? Losing two games to a bottom-feeding Western Conference team at home within a week? I hope so. Maybe on Wednesday we can watch a team beginning to get things in order, beginning to play together rather than trying to do things in spite of each other.
The ‘Hawks still haven’t hit the opposition with their best shot.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer.
**** 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.