Posts tagged Chicago Blackhawks
Over the next few weeks the CtA staff will be looking back at the 2011-12 campaign and doing our personal evaluations of individuals players. We begin with one of the guys who wears a letter for this team and generally spends about half the game on the ice, Duncan Keith.
That’s the first number that I went and researched because it’s probably the most obvious place to start. For three seasons we’ve monitored Duncan Keith’s ice time because the Blackhawks have been unable to field a third pairing that can skate 10-12 minutes a game. Twenty six minutes and fifty three seconds is the average amount of time that Duncan Keith spent on the ice for the Blackhawks this past season. He did that in just under 31 shifts a game at about 50 seconds each. Only former Blackhawk Brian Campbell was in that range. In fact, the number is exactly the same for Campbell. It’s unfortunate that Duncan Keith will be remembered for what is pictured above because there’s far more to talk about with #2’s season than that. Much of the discussion will take the same tone though.
The Chicago Blackhawks are about to embark on a difficult stretch during the month of January, facing tough Western Conference rivals and some pesky Eastern Conference teams as well. Some players on the team are doing fantastic, some others need work, and we have a pair of excellent goaltenders manning the nets. The Cheer The Anthem staff put their heads together and addressed these and other questions in the latest edition of our Round Table…
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are surging lately and headed for strong end-of-season point totals. What do you see as the cause for this, and what can the Blackhawks do to keep these guys on a roll?
JEFF BARTL, Founder & Lead Writer: Remember all the concerns over Hossa’s contract, cap hit, injuries, etc.? It’s amazing how quickly a solid couple of months can rid us of all that. When the Blackhawks signed Hossa, I tried to break it down to non-hockey enthusiasts as being comparable to the Bears trading for Jay Cutler.
Rather than the standard previews of Central Division foes from an outsider’s point of view, I decided to take a different approach. This week, Behind Enemy Lines will take a look at our divisional rivals through the eyes of those invested in the team in one way or another. Today, it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets with Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Disptach.
Bartl: One of the biggest surprises of the free agency period – especially to Blackhawks fans – was the 6-year, $33 million contract the Blue Jackets gave to defenseman James Wisniewski. From what we saw in Chicago out of Wisniewski, it’s tough for us to justify such a contract. Why do you feel Columbus targeted Wisniewski from the get-go by trading for his rights? Did the Blue Jackets overpay? What does he need to contribute in order to live up to that deal?
Portzline: It’s only right that fans in Chicago were perplexed by the contract given to Wisniewski. Fans in his many previous stops were probably perplexed, too. Is it too much term? Sure. Is it too much money? Yep. But here’s two points to consider: 1. that’s what free agency is … too much term and too much money. 2. scarcity was the rule in this year’s free agent class with respect to defensemen who could provide scoring. Wisniewski had a banner year in 2010-11 and the Blue Jackets do not believe it was a fluke. They needed a defenseman with toughness and power play acumen, and he provides both.
The era of the pure goon is dead.
The demise of players that could do nothing but pound opponents into tapioca began, really, when it became apparent that players like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were the future of the sport. In came rules to curtail the fisticuffs, along with an increased focus on skill. With rules to further restrict or eliminate the “trap” and “left-wing lock” defensive styles, the players that had gotten by with clutch-and-grab tactics were now actually forced to play the game, move their ass, and win or lose on skill rather than on their ability to diminish the skill of others. Pure goons went on life support.
And finally, following the most recent lockout the front of the net was turned from the war zone it once was to a “Mom-he’s-touching-me” fifth-grade gym class. Now you’re more likely to scuff your nail polish than get a cross-check across the shoulder blades. In other words, the jobs for pure goons with no talent other than the pugilistic arts are now few and far between.
On the surface, a No. 8 seed and first-round playoff exit seems downright horrific following a Stanley Cup championship a year earlier.
Dig deeper, sift through the preseason overhaul due to cap constraints, and you’ll likely find the Blackhawks’ 2010-11 season most deemed a miscarriage may not be so terrible after all.
The 97 points are more than any No. 8 seed since the NHL did away with divisional playoffs and the Campbell and Prince of Wales conferences prior to the 1993-94 season. That stretch includes the shootout era which began after the 2004-05 lockout, guaranteeing one team will receive two points in every game on the league’s schedule.
That’s nothing to apologize for in my book, especially since a victory over Detroit on the regular season’s final day would have given the Blackhawks the No. 5 seed. If you want to talk numbers, then look at them all – One more win, and there may have been a lot less complaining from the fan base.
I got into a brief Twitter-spat on Tuesday with blogger colleague Tab Bamford from Committed Indians regarding the rumored re-alignment in the NHL. The proposed plan would move Detroit (*spitting noise*) to the Eastern Conference, ripping apart the Blackhawks/Red Wings rivalry. His contention is that this is no time for alarm. I couldn’t disagree more. His post later that day provided an opportunity for a more lengthy retort, which you are now reading.
Tab’s nothing-to-see-here-people argument is four-fold. First, that the story itself has no merit, having been broken by an unreliable source. Second, that the rumored re-alignment assumes the Coyotes stay in Phoenix, rendering it unbelievable on its face. Third, that the league has too much respect for history and tradition, and would never disassemble a rivalry as old and storied as the Blackhawks/Red Wings. And fourth, that it doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective.
Buckle up, people…
You’ve got to hand it to Stan Bowman if you’re a fan of a veteran presence.
After rolling through a disappointing season with an extremely young roster, Bowman added Jamal Mayers (36), Sean O’Donnell (39) and Andrew Brunette (37) to go along with Steve Montador (31).
It’s quite obvious the Blackhawks are trying to balance out the locker room by adding tough, no-nonsense veterans to a roster which didn’t seem to understand the magnitude of their failures last season.
While Duncan Keith admitted packing it in and most others continued with their versions of, “We’ll be fine,” the team pretty much fell apart and nearly missed the playoffs, which would have given Chicago an increased suicide rate.
Now, with a locker room full of guys who likely won’t take much shit, there aren’t many excuses.
Stan Bowman (hopefully) has made his first true addition of the offseason, trading a late-round draft pick for the negotiating rights to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Steve Montador.
The ‘Hawks have until 11:59 EST Thursday to strike a deal before Montador becomes an unrestricted free agent, though I can’t see Bowman letting this last that long.
Montador became expendable with Buffalo trading for Christian Ehrhoff’s rights and making a draft-day deal to acquire Robyn Regehr.
Montador had a $1.55 million cap hit last season, and likely will get roughly $2.5-$3 million from the Blackhawks. The 31-year-old is going to be a hell of a pickup for the ‘Hawks given his toughness and willingness to throw his body in front of the puck at any given time. Oh, and he can kick someone’s ass:
While this may not be considered “big” news that I was supposed to cover during Jeff’s hiatus for the weekend, it is news that is causing reactions by some and I’m here to tell you “don’t worry”. Now considering that the biggest concert event of the summer, Lollapalooza is going on in Grant Park, by the time you get home and read this, you’ll be so shit faced that you won’t know that it wasn’t Jeff writing this, but me, Frank Rekas. A transplanted lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan, now living in Florida, and covering the dreaded Florida Panthers on my site The Rat Trick.
So, unless you’re still sleeping under a tree in Grant Park, or riding the “EL” around town cause you missed your stop, you know that John Madden has signed with the Minnesota Wild for approximately $1.275 million for one year. Not a bad signing, but I really don’t think it’s something that we should get all upset about. Could the Hawks have made a similar offer and kept the veteran center? Not as it stands now, and not for the on ice production that we’d end up getting. No doubt Madden’s leadership was crucial throughout last season both on and off the ice. Except for that limo excursion in Vancouver. But towards the end of the season he seemed to lose a step and wasn’t quite as productive as we all expected.
Nonetheless, his contributions were still noticeable and his defensive abilities were certainly worth having him on the team for. But let’s not look at this as another salary dump, and wonder oh no, whose going to take his place. As a faceoff guy, he was one of the best. However I think we can look to Dave Bolland as the guy to fill that role in special as well as crucial game situations.
As for leadership, let me tell you the players that are still left on this roster, and there are a lot of them, will have have the necessary leadership needed for another strong playoff drive. Anyone who doesn’t think that the likes of Captain Marvel, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook can’t carry the torch, along with Patrick Kane, and even Troy Brouwer, your underestimating this unit. Don’t forget Coach Q behind the bench!
I hear and read all around from people that the cap issues the Hawks are having will have a horrible result on them this coming season. I doubt it. The core is still together. The top six forwards will compete with any other top six. Find four defencemen better than the Hawks top four. A motivated Marty Turco in net, playing with a talented defence in front of him that he’s never had the luxury of. Should I keep going.
The 49 year drought is over thank goodness. And like many of you, from my home here in South Florida, I cried that night on June 9th when they won. I cried when I watched the parade, and when the box of souvenirs came from my brother in Chicago. That feeling will last forever. It will never be forgotten.
Like the image above, those players will walk together forever. Regardless of who comes and who goes, this is still going to be a lethal team, and they will be motivated to defend and repeat.
It’s a pride thing. And Chicago has always been know for that.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks Jeff for giving me a shot at writing for the team my heart bleeds for!