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
There’s been a bit of a hiatus on the site as we focused on our personal lives in the offseason. Leave it to us to start writing when the league is locked out.
I simply can’t be angry. I’ve tried, honestly. I tried to raise my voice and attempted to flail my arms around like a 70-year-old Italian woman telling a story. I even clenched my teeth once when I’d finally heard enough of about the yet-to-be-clearly-defined “hockey-related revenue.”
None of it takes. I’m just trying to cover up my sadness and disappointment that the NHL has been taken away from me, from us. My subconscious knows it.
The main problem? I don’t know where to direct my anger, and that simply depresses me. The owners, the players, Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman. They’re all guilty. Every last one of them. How do I pick a side when they’re all arguing over my money? And that’s exactly what they’re arguing over – our money, the almighty dollar.
The money we invested into attending games, buying merchandise and whatever else to help make the fourth of four major sports in America – where 23 of the 30 teams call home and where the last 18 Stanley Cup champs reside – grow by billions of dollars over the course of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We watched the NFL lose a traditional offseason and the NBA cancel a chunk of its campaign over money, and we hoped the NHL would be better than that, recognizing it’s place among the sports food chain and knowing the risk of losing the casual fan that’s on their way to becoming knowledgeable because of growing interest.
We’re already living in a world where “record growth” is equivalent to “the Stanley Cup Final having less viewers than “Swamp People.” Take that as you wish – even though I personally don’t care – but less fans means less money for everyone.
Stan Bowman took his shot(s) and missed, accomplishing a lot more than it seems most of the fan base thought he would.
The Blackhawks’ GM apparently made strong offers to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to obtain the services of one or both of the most sought-after free agents of this year’s class, but they eventually chose to start anew with the Minnesota Wild and sign identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.
Suter seemed the logical choice given the ‘Hawks struggles on defense last season, and a pursuit of Parise was something that would’ve intrigued us at best. As it turns out, landing Parise was more likely than getting Suter to don the Indian head.
Such is life in the world of high-priced free agency.
There was a time when Blackhawks fans questioned the signing of Dan Carcillo, fearing his off-the-cuff antics would eventually lead to some potentially damaging incident that validated all the concerns.
After the man appropriately nicknamed CarBomb proved everyone right, Stan Bowman went ahead and re-upped him for two more years, putting fans back in the same worrisome position.
Oh, and he got a raise at that.
Carcillo managed to pack a season’s worth of drama into a mere 28 games – a number cut short by suspensions and a season-ending injury that came while making an illegal hit he’s bound to repeat down the road.
A Blackhawks coach is leaving Chicago, but it’s not Joel Quenneville – yet.
The ‘Hawks fired assistant coach Mike Haviland on Tuesday in a surprising move few saw coming. It’s pretty safe to assume the first head on the chopping block would have been Mike Kitchen, given his responsibilities with the horribly bad special teams.
Al Cimaglia wrote recently he heard Haviland had an “unwritten promise” to succeed Coach Q, but that sure doesn’t seem to be the case now. I’m assuming Haviland was just as surprised as we are.
Then again, the Blackhawks needed a fall guy for another disappointing playoff “run,” and rather than Kitchen, Q decided to let go of supposedly his right-hand man.
So, in a matter of months Haviland went from being a finalist for the Winnipeg job to unemployed. Seems like a tough break.
We’ll be back with an update once we hear from those who made the decision.
There’s plenty of discussions regarding the Blackhawks’ financial situation and the money tied up in either under-performing players or long contracts currently on the roster.
But along with Jonathan Toews, some of the Blackhawks’ most wisely spent money is being given to Patrick Sharp – and he proved it once again with another solid season.
The Handsome One underwent an emergency appendectomy in the offseason, welcomed his first child into the world Dec. 10 – then scored the next night against San Jose – missed eight games because of a broken wrist suffered against Detroit on Jan. 8, played through the break the rest of the season, and still finished with a team-leading 33 goals.
He may have had a rough playoff series, but what Blackhawk didn’t?
With 2012 just five days old and #ShawFacts unborn, the Blackhawks’ fan base sounded like a group of owls, collectively yelling “Who?!” after hearing Andrew Shaw was being called up from Rockford.
The little-known fifth-round draft pick wasn’t expected to be in the Blackhawks’ plans this season or even next season, depending on who you ask. Hell, I challenge most of you to even recall the ‘Hawks drafting him.
But there was Shaw, a 180-pound ball of energy unexpectedly ready to make an impact.
And from his first game, that’s exactly what he did. Shaw provided the grit and tenacity we’d hoped to see from more experienced players while also packing a scoring punch. Sure, there are deficiencies in his game. He has plenty to learn, and that aggressiveness he showed ended up costing him in the playoffs, but Shaw provided a pleasant surprise for the ‘Hawks by getting an early jump on his career.
Well, maybe they won’t. I don’t know. They’re definitely going to be different, though. Right?
Basically, there are a lot of questions marks for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks’ roster in the offseason, and with hockey still being played in places like Hollywood, the desert and whatever the hell you want to call New Jersey, attempting to make sense of it all seems futile.
What we will do, however, is discuss the good and the bad among last season’s contributors and disappointments who donned the Indian head on a player-by-player basis.
Each week we’ll bring you five player reviews and maybe some random discussion. Here’s what you can look forward to for the first week, as myself, Jim, Tim and JMH breakdown your 2011-12 Blackhawks – who will be playing as much playoff hockey as I will the rest of this season.
Monday — Duncan Keith
Tuesday — Jamal Mayers
Wednesday — Bryan Bickell
Thursday — Andrew Shaw
Friday — Patrick Sharp
We’re going to try and mix in stars and role players each week, with these recaps taking you through the Stanley Cup finals. And if St. Louis ends up playing for the Cup, you’ll likely need your hockey fix since you won’t be watching those assholes.
So, even though the Blackhawks’ season is over, ours isn’t quite yet. Keep checking back.
Video of The Shanahammer laying the smackdown above
And the verdict is in. Brendan Shanahan has leveled Raffi Torres with an astounding 25-game suspension for his hit on Marian Hossa in Game 3.
Most of us thought 10. I sure as hell thought it would be 10. But 25? I guess that’s what happens when you’re a repeat offender and deliberately concuss someone in the playoffs.
It won’t bring Hossa back when the ‘Hawks desperately could use him down 3-1 to Phoenix, but at least Torres will serve his time.
Torres’ suspension in the longest since New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was suspended for 30 games in December 2007 for stomping on the ankle of Jarrko Ruutu.
Pretty amazing this hit warrants a 25-game suspension from Shanahan but not even a two-minute penalty from four apparently blind referees/linesmen.
Gary Bettman continues taking heat for his league getting embarrassed on a national stage, with nine players getting suspended so far in these playoffs. Some of it is deserved, some not, but the fact remains the dirty play has taken on horrible level that is making hockey look nothing like a goon sport to the casual observer.
And with the NHL being quite obviously the fourth major sports league, bringing in casual observers is what Bettman needs to get his NHL more eyes that stay focused on the product rather than veering off after the pointless fights end.
Bettman spoke at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting on Friday, standing by Brendan Shanahan and his rulings to this point – including the the three-game smackdown laid on Andrew Shaw and the non-suspension of Shea Weber.
While Bettman did make a good point — “For everybody who says (a certain suspension is) too much, there are people who say it’s too little. For everybody who doesn’t like a particular judgment, they say they’re being inconsistent.” – he also didn’t do himself any favors by avoiding taking some of the drama out of the situations by at least seeing another point of view.
“Everybody will have a different view,” Bettman said. “In Vancouver, they probably thought Bitz was being picked on and got suspended for too much. In Chicago, everybody felt that Shaw shouldn’t have been suspended at all because Smith was faking. Not the case.”
Maybe Mike Smith genuinely was injured, but I’ve never seen anyone recover from getting shot in the face that quickly. He sure hasn’t seemed to lose a step, carrying the Coyotes to a 3-1 series lead over the ‘Hawks heading into Saturday’s Game 5.
Go ahead and think sweet thoughts about how the Blackhawks stormed back from 0-3 down against Vancouver last season. Say it. “Anything can happen!” “It’s not over yet!”
This doesn’t feel the same, though, does it?
Losing back-to-back overtime playoff games on home ice is one thing, but the manner in which they were lost is even more disheartening. Once again, Mikkel Boedker slipped one past Corey Crawford in the extra period, and the Coyotes took a 3-1 series lead over the ‘Hawks with a 3-2 win Thursday at the United Center.
What we’ve seen in this series is a team consistently one step behind the other, constantly giving chase, even making it interesting at times, but ultimately falling short. I don’t for one second believe the Blackhawks have been badly outplayed in this series, but Phoenix is playing just well enough to overcome the talent gap and is beating the ‘Hawks on scheme rather than skill.
The whole let’s-spot-the-Coyotes-a-lead-until-late-in-the-third-period-then-tie-it-when-we-look-defeated thing might be exciting, and this series has had no shortage of free hockey. It’s the mental lapses that lead the games to get to that point that are the most frustrating, and Phoenix is taking full advantage.
There’s no doubt the ‘Hawks missed Marian Hossa and even Andrew Shaw, but what ultimately changed? The same shit happens whether they’re in the lineup or not. The Blackhawks are that close, but it really doesn’t mean a damn thing. Losing one-goal, overtime games is the same as losing 10-0. If it was January and the ‘Hawks were playing this way, we could say, “The Blackhawks haven’t played at their best the past four games and they’ve still taken all of them to overtime and earned a point. That’s a good sign.”
In the playoffs, it gets you down 3-1 in a series to a team that doesn’t possess the talent, but just wants it more. And that’s the thing – it really doesn’t seem like the ‘Hawks want it until they’ve fallen behind. They can talk all they want about what needs to change and they know where their deficiencies lie. They did that all season. It’s nothing new. But if you can’t change what needs to be changed, if you can’t execute the way you know you must, then all that talk is about as useful as screen door in a submarine.
If seeing Hossa go off on a stretcher isn’t enough to get the ‘Hawks psyched to be flying all over the ice, then what in the funky hell is enough? What’s it going to take? If they know the answer, it may be too late anyway.