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
It’s pretty amazing how emotions shift so quickly. Until yesterday, I was still enjoying the Stanley Cup victory. Hell, I haven’t even gotten my season-ticket holder time to grope the thing. That happens Oct. 14.
But as soon as the VERSUS coverage shifted to Denver, I forgot everything that happened in June and during the Summer-long celebration. We’re back to reality, and the Colorado Avalanche made sure the Blackhawks know that, too.
The ‘Hawks showed flashes of their potential to repeat as champs, but also played like they were wearing slippers at times. It’s what comes with defending a title and having a target on your back. And there’s 81 more of these to go.
Though I would have loved to get started with a victory, the Blackhawks came out with a standings point from a game in which they trailed 3-1 and looked left for dead. So, there’s that.
Here’s the rest of what I’ve got for tonight…
♦ Before everyone starts leaving skid marks in their undies, Marty Turco is the reason that game even went to overtime. I wanted to get that out of the way just in case there’s a meathead reading this saying, “We should’ve never let Niemi walk.” Turco made some great saves tonight on good chances for the Avs — and more importantly, on good shots as well. There’s not much to complain about on any of those four goals.
♦ Turco’s athleticism is something we’re not used to, and it may cause heart failure for one or two people this season watching him chase the puck all over the place. Yes, he almost got burned getting caught in Bumblefuck deciding whether or not to chase down a loose puck entering the zone. But I’m convinced Turco’s ability to play the puck will be an asset for the ‘Hawks rather than a detriment. Minus the Chris Stewart goal, Turco snuffed the Avs on a couple more odd-man rushes because…
♦ … the ‘Hawks were noticeably different without Brian Campbell. The Avs had enough short-handed chances tonight to make me want to strangle a small child. Part of the reason for that is Campbell’s speed wasn’t around to make up for the blue-line shortcomings of the forwards at the point. Aside from that, Nick Leddy’s blunder which led to the Stewart goal may not have happened, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Oh, and the Blackhawks gave up 41 shots. This can’t keep happening. And if it does, it’ll be a long season.
♦ Marian Hossa is a fucking animal. He just does everything right. Even forgetting his deflection goal and beautiful assist on Bryan Bickell’s tally, Hossa makes such good decisions and plays an outstanding defense for a forward. If he wasn’t known so much as a scorer and playmaker, I have no doubt he’d be getting more consideration for the Selke Trophy.
♦ Patrick Sharp is not only a very handsome man, he also played fantastic tonight. Even during the preseason, Sharp looked like a man just dying to get back on the ice and get the season started. Not a bad way to get going: Goal, assist and seven shots on goal.
♦ Getting back to Leddy’s miscue in the offensive zone that lead to Stewart’s goal: It was a 19-year-old play made by a kid seeing his first NHL action. Leddy turned a routine cross-ice pass into hacky sack. Niklas Hjalmarsson was forced to saucer it to Leddy, who had time to either settle the puck down with his hand — a la Duncan Keith – or simply let the puck slip past him and let the boards settle it down for him. Overall, Leddy didn’t play all that bad for a guy no one really figures is ready to play at this level. He made a rookie mistake.
Let’s just hope there’s not many more of them.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
A couple non-’Hawks-related things…
For those who may not have noticed the names on certain posts, Tim Currell has jumped aboard to help me out with some thoughts and keep this site updated with insightful words. My fault, Tim, for not announcing this earlier. But be sure to check the names on the posts to know who’s writing and who to direct your feedback to. You can find each of our email addresses on the “About” page.
Holy. Fucking. Shitballs. Look at this fucking goal by Jordan Eberle, the Edmonton Oilers rookie making his NHL debut. I couldn’t go without posting this:
For the first time this pre-season, we’ll all be relegated to our smart phones (or in my dad’s case, his U.S. Cellular handout flip phone) checking on updates. The Blackhawks will get their first glimpse of the new Console Energy Center in Pittsburgh when they take the ice against the Penguins at 6 p.m. CST. Judging by the look of the lineups, we shouldn’t be missing too much with this game not being televised.
Sidney Crosby will once again dodge the Blackhawks as he ices down his vagina this evening, but Evgeni Malkin will man up and play (though probably pretty sparingly). The ‘Hawks are also going pretty thin, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and both Marty Turco and Corey Crawford taking a night off.
The best news of the day came when Jeff Taffe was sent down to Rockford so I don’t have to watch that shithead stumble all over the ice for the time being. With 19-year-old Jeremy Morin looking pretty damn good for a roster spot and Jack Skille playing exactly like he needed to in order to stick with the big club, Taffe and Evan Brophey are easy-to-live-with casualties.
As McClure of SCH pointed out, it would be nice to see more out of Makarov Cocktail and Viktor Stalberg in this one, especially since the coaching staff is giving them every opportunity to show what they can do with the studs on this team.
Short and sweet for tonight. I’ll be keeping up on my Droid. GO ICEHOGS ‘HAWKS!!
Watching the replay of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 pre-season loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I noticed something very strange. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk clearly were announcing the game the entire time. Apparently, Comcast disagreed. Have a look:
Much like the Blackhawks, Comcast isn’t immune to needing some exhibitions. Luckily this intern will have another chance tonight to prove his/her worth before Comcast makes it’s first roster cuts.
Igor Makarov has received such high praise through the Prospects Tournament and beginning of camp, you’d think some people have actually forgotten about the off-season purge — if only for a minute.
Tonight, we’ll see how Makarov fares against some established pros and others fighting for roster spots.
I can only think to nickname the Russian-born forward Makarov Cocktail (Get it? Like Molotov Cocktail?) the way he’s exploded onto the scene with the big boys after being destined for Rockford when camp broke. Because of all the hype, Cocktail is giving me more of a reason to plan my night around a Blackhawks preseason game.
There’s no reason the kid can’t make the roster with what he’s shown so far according to QStache, who’s been singing his praises. Though I haven’t seen him in person, the talk I’m gathering from his speed and quick trigger sounds like a Kris Versteeg-type guy, which means there will be a lot to be desired in other aspects of the game. But if Cocktail can put the puck in the net over the course of the preseason like he’s been doing so far in camp, he’ll get his shot with the big club.
But let’s not pencil in Makarov just yet. Given Makarov’s raw skill set, players like Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg rank ahead of Cocktail in the competition for a top-6 spot. If Cocktail doesn’t crack the top-6 when the preseason concludes, look for him to be sent to Rockford to develop his scoring touch a bit more while working harder on the defensive end. There’s a possibility Cocktail gets a shot on the third line if Patrick Sharp centers the second line, leaving Dave Bolland centering the third. Makarov will need a solid passer who can find him at the right moments to score, and Cocktail may only be trusted with either Sharp or Bolland — and of course Jonathan Toews, but the top line is out of the question.
Cocktail gets another chance to impress QStache tonight when the ‘Hawks take on Tampa Bay tonight in Winnipeg. Look for Tim Currell’s preview later this afternoon.
√ Anyone have a few million bucks lying around? Lame-duck goalie Cristobal Huet has listed his River North condo for $3 million. Later, dude.
√ Tim Sassone puts in his two cents for Bickell.
√ Just so everyone doesn’t go around hanging themselves after a loss, Fifth Feather has your Idiot’s Guide to the Pre-Season.
Multiple reports surfaced this morning the Blackhawks have signed coach Joel Quenneville’s mustache to a contract extension, which will be announced at a 2:30 p.m. CST news conference. QStache was entering the final year of his current deal with the ‘Hawks.
No question QStache deserves it. He’s 97-44-19 since taking over the ‘Hawks from Denis Savard four games into the 2008-09 season in which QStache led the team to a Western Conference Finals appearance. He won a President’s Trophy in St. Louis, had good success in Colorado and shook the playoff-choke label by winning the Stanley Cup last season. QStache obviously knows what the hell he’s doing, and I’m happy he’ll be doing it here in Chicago for at least a few more years.
As I wrote the other day, QStache faces a difficult test behind the bench this season with a revamped roster. But I’ll say this: There’s not many other coaches in the world I’d rather have doing it — despite his constant renditions of Musical Lines.
Congrats, Coach Q.
The most I’ve seen and heard of Joel Quenneville this off-season came in the form of the split-second clip of him dancing like an idiot with the Stanley Cup during a commercial advertising the Blackhawks championship DVD. Other than a couple of public appearances, QStache has been relatively unseen and unheard from.
He better enjoy the dark now, because the spotlight will be shining on him shortly.
The salary cap casualties led to open positions still relatively unsettled. QStache’s established roster of Stanley Cup champions is now filled with a plethora of question marks — both on the ice and in the locker room. It’ll be QStache’s job to help develop chemistry between his returning core and incoming newbies.
It’s no real secret QStache was handed the keys to a Blackhawks team already switching into high gear. Following the dismissal of Denis Savard, QStache had a roster filled with continuity and talent. While there’s no doubt his experience behind the bench helped push the Blackhawks to their Stanley Cup victory, a lot was already put in place the past two seasons.
Subtractions in the past couple off-seasons were met with more-than-welcome additions, namely the signing of Marian Hossa. Though I’ve stated many times I still believe the Blackhawks have more than enough talent despite the departures to defend the Cup, it’ll take chemistry on the ice with a large amount of new signings and Rockford Icehogs to jell into the contenders they were last season.
For that, QStache is responsible. We all know he has a quick trigger when it comes to changing the rotation. Musical Lines may be seen more than ever this season in order to keep his stars like Jonthan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Hossa playing to their full capabilities, while also putting together the correct combination of role players on the third and fourth lines. I won’t even venture a guess right now on who should be where because camp hasn’t even opened. There’s a reason he has the job.
Don’t forget the fact QStache will have nightly decisions once again on when to play/sit his veteran goalie, Marty Turco, in favor of a young, inexperienced backup in Corey Crawford. The goaltending became the biggest story surrounding the Blackhawks last season. If Turco poops himself the first few games, you can bet he’ll be hearing “Cor-ey, Cor-ey,” from the UC crowd.
Bottom line, the 2010-11 season will be QStache’s toughest behind the ‘Hawks bench. And it’ll take more than a fantastic lip brow to get this team playing like defending Cup champs from the get-go.
Sorry for the delay in posts, everyone. I decided to take a good chunk of time off before camp gets underway and I begin writing like crazy. Problems? You’ll get over them.
I remember July 1, 2009 vividly. Marian Hossa signed a mega contract with the Blackhawks, and I leapt in jubilation. I texted friends, made phone calls and began dissecting the ‘Hawks roster in preparation for the new lines.
But what I remember most is the lack of enthusiasm amongst my fellow ‘Hawks fans. Signing Hossa meant the inevitable departure of Martin Havlat, and no one could seem to get over it — especially when the ‘Hawks confirmed Hossa would be out until November with an injury.
Later in the day, Nikolai Khabibulin signed a multi-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers, meaning the ‘Hawks would go with a combination of Cristobal Huet and an unknown in net for the upcoming season. On a day when I felt the Blackhawks improved considerably — using the money saved on Khabby’s cap hit to spend on Hossa — no one shared in my optimism.
Just over two years later, with a Stanley Cup championship banner set to be raised, the pity party over departed Blackhawks reached its climax with Antti Niemi’s move to the San Jose Sharks. And similarly to a couple years ago, I refuse to shed any tears.
Though the ‘Hawks shed salary this off-season trading away fan favorites Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, etc., I don’t lump those moves in with Havlat/Khabby. The ‘Hawks had to make cost-cutting decisions and they were the casualties. So be it.
As much as it can be construed as such, letting Niemi go wasn’t simply based off the salary cap but rather return on investment based on performance. Havlat, Khabby and Niemi all felt they deserved more than what the Blackhawks were offering. Havlat and Khabby found takers, and the Blackhawks look like geniuses. Havlat has played like dogshit, and Khabby is getting ready to serve jail time.
Furthermore, I’m not fully convinced the Blackhawks would have jumped and paid Niemi what he wanted if they had the cap money to spend on him.
The fact Niemi signed for less than the arbitrator’s award ($2 million compared to $2.75) means the rest of the NHL agreed with the ‘Hawks. It’s proof the ‘Hawks simply don’t play hardball — here’s what you’re worth, take it or go find it somewhere else. So far, the Blackhawks haven’t been burned.
Once again, the fan base is having a hard time watching a guy go. It’s a bit more understandable this time around given Niemi back-stopped a Cup winner, but I guess I’m in the minority thinking the Blackhawks will be just fine with Marty Turco. Sure, he hasn’t won a Cup. Niemi hadn’t either until June.
What I see from the Niemi signing is the Sharks putting themselves in a situation similar to the 2008-09 Blackhawks: Two netminders who can be considered No. 1s, and because of that neither is the definite starter. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks go into the season with Turco as the clear-cut guy ready to defend the franchise’s Cup and win one for himself. I’m not complaining.
While seeing Niemi in Sharks teal may be strange, remember the way Chicago felt when Havlat and Khabby took the money and ran. Greed got those two nothing but mediocre teams and a bleak future.
The Blackhawks got a Cup.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Ssshhh. Hear that? No? Good. Things are finally quiet this off-season. It’s kind of nice, actually. And speaking of quiet, former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi finally talked a bit about his time in Chicago and his future.
In his interview with David Haugh, Niemi expressed his disappointment and said he always believed a deal would get worked out. Reading his quotes, it convinced me further Niemi’s agent, Bill Zito, persuaded Niemi to hold out for more cash and convinced him he can have the best of both worlds: The Blackhawks and the money.
“I thought it would get worked out all along and never really thought it wouldn’t,” Niemi said. “And then when it happened and they signed (Marty) Turco, I was real disappointed. I still am. But it worked out for them, so …”
Now, Niemi is looking for a new team. He squashed any thoughts of him playing in Europe and said he’ll only play in the NHL next season. Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News wrote last week about Niemi’s possible destinations, pointing out the San Jose Sharks look to be the only real option right now.
Either way, it looks as if Niemi will be fighting for a No. 1 spot despite winning the Stanley Cup. Is the money really worth having to compete for the starting job again? If I were Niemi, I’d fire Zito before signing that next contract simply to keep Zito from getting any commission.
√ After Ilya Kovalchuk had his deal rejected by the NHL and upheld by an arbitrator, the ruling also noted the league is still investigating the contracts signed by Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard and the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa.
The extensions signed by the other three players do not kick in until this season. Hossa is the only one to have already played a year under the signed contract. I honestly don’t believe the NHL will come after Hossa’s contract, nor do I believe they’ll make much of a stink over the other three front-loaded deals either. The NHL seems to be more out to make a point of attempting to scare teams off from signing players to similar deals in the future.
Part of me wishes I had no ammo to write something like this. A calm off-season would’ve been nice. But nothing worth having ever comes easy, right?
Last season, the ‘Hawks signed Marian Hossa to a monster deal and let Martin Havlat walk. They let Nikolai Khabibulin walk and gave the reigns to Cristobal Huet. They even botched the initial offers to their restricted free agents. That led to The Blackhawks’ Off-Season Drama: Seinfeld Style, Part I.
After losing a good chunk of a Stanley Cup championship team, it’s only fitting I do this again and relate the Blackhawks’ off-season to the greatest T.V. show of all-time.
In no particular order of the events that occurred, here’s Part II:
√ “You see, this is what I do with women. I start out too strong, now I have to become real. That’s when it all falls apart.”
Antti Niemi came out of nowhere. He saw more ice time driving the Zamboni than he did dressed in pads for his Finnish team. Then, Dale Tallon came along and found him. It’s a great story, and when he began succeeding for the Blackhawks everyone thought the franchise had something great for years to come.
Then, reality set in. It’s a funny thing — hockey players like to be paid. Weird how they like money, eh? Niemi is no different. Shit got real, and now Niemi is pondering his next move rather than getting ready to defend the Stanley Cup he helped bring to Chicago for the first time in 49 years.
Well whoopy-woo. I’ll start crying later. Sorry, Antti, but I’m on the Marty Turco bandwagon now.
√ “Have you ever been through an audit? It’s hell. It’s the financial equivalent of a complete rectal examination.”
We’ve been crunching numbers and discussing the salary cap situation dating back to … hell, before this season even started. David Haugh finally did something useful and talked with Stan Bowman for a bit rather than make his own bullshit assumptions like the rest of the meatball part of the fan base.
It’s been a wild ride this summer, no question. Bowman has been criticized so often over the past few months it’s amazing he hasn’t been hung from the Michael Jordan statue yet. You upset Bowman kept Dave Bolland, who has a bad back, in favor of Dustin Byfuglien? Well, do you think the other 29 GMs don’t know Bolland has a bad back? Do you think only people in Chicago know he has a bad back? Do you really think his value was higher than Byfuglien, who netted Bowman a first- and second-round pick?
The amount of work Bowman put into getting this team under the cap (pending Huet’s demotion/deportation) while keeping the central core of The Champs together should be commended. Bowman won a goddamn Stanley Cup. Maybe give the guy the benefit of the doubt and let the ‘Hawks play a few games before everyone starts shitting themselves.
√ “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year! He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doin’!”
This is the way of thinking for every meatball if they were sitting in front of Bowman. The trades of Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg obviously weren’t popular with those fans who only got cable around the time the playoffs started. Here’s what I wrote at one point of the season about Byfuglien:
Dustin Byfuglien shocked the living shit out of every Blackhawks fan with his display of skill we all knew he had, yet rarely seems to show. Snagging a loose puck in his own zone, skated 300 MPH down the left boards, fought off a defender with one arm while dragging the puck with the other, turned in front of Lundqvist then shot it five hole for the game-winner while falling down. Jubilation ensued.
That was back on Dec. 10. From then through roughly May, Blackhawks fans were privy to the underachieving Byfuglien.
And Versteeg? Here’s a glimpse of a whole piece I wrote on him back on Jan. 26:
This is Versteeg’s second five-plus game scoreless streak of the season, and he’s gone scoreless in at least three-game bunches in three other stretches. This for a guy coming off a nine-game scoring streak. At the very least, his consistency hasn’t been something to brag about.
I’m not saying Bowman reads Blackhawk Up, nor am I saying I can do his job by any means. The point is that if some short blonde guy who drinks too much sitting up in Section 326 can see this shit, I’m assuming Bowman did, too. Get over it.
√ “Nobody drives like me. Nobody. I’m doing things in this car, you have no idea they’re going on.”
This is Bowman’s response to all the meatballs. Go ahead, criticize. But he’s doing so much behind the scenes that neither you nor I know or even understand. I’ll say it again: The Blackhawks will be under the salary cap with one of the best core groups of players in the entire NHL. Shut up.
√ “People don’t turn down money. It’s what separates us from the animals.”
Blame Doug Wilson all you want, but Niklas Hjalmarsson signing that offer sheet was about getting his green. I’m sure Hammer never thought he’d get an offer like that this season. When Wilson and the Sharks came along with a ton of cash, Hammer did everything he should’ve done. No matter the outcome, Hammer would’ve been playing with one of the best teams in the Western Conference — and getting paid handsomely to do so.
Granted, it made the ‘Hawks even more cap-strapped. But can you blame the guy? We all would’ve done the same thing. Sign the sheet, play for a good team and get paid no matter what.
√ “You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’”
Huet pretty much looked like a he’d given up in March. The poor guy actually has a good amount of talent to be a solid goaltender in the NHL. The problem? He’s a flippin’ head case. Now, the Blackhawks have given him, his agent and his $5.625 million cap hit permission to seek another team. It’s just a matter of where Huet will end up. The only thing for sure is that he won’t be wearing the Indian head at the start of the season.
√ “It’s one day. Half a day, really. I mean you subtract showers and meals, it’s like twenty minutes.”
No matter what type of ‘Hawks fan you are or how you’ve viewed this off-season to date, we can all share in one thing: We’re all looking forward to hockey season!