Blackhawks Confidential

Huet plays just "fine" as Blackhawks beat Nashville 3-1

Let's talk about media and over-hyping. I was involved in that at times when I was a Chicago sportswriter.

I was informed someone recently referred to me in an internet post as a douchebag hack. I have to tell you, it makes me warm and fuzzy all over to be remembered.

You get involved with teams, you get close to some players and management and you sell their bill of goods. It's happened for decades and it's happening now.

Payoffs? Well, it's not that blatant. But it's all the same. Some media are in the tank and swimming with the sharks, even if they have never been more than guppies.

That's why the media is fed, parked, pampered and preened. Teams want them to be their supposedly unbiased frontmen.

To me, Pat Foley and Eddie O-My were trying to sell us Cristobal Huet Thursday night as much as if they were peddling SHAM-WOW. They were waxing us big-time.

Coach Joel Quenneville's stock answer after every game, whether a goalie has just been embarrassed or played OK, is "He was fine."

I hope there comes a day when Patrick Kane scores six goals and I can eagerly await Quenneville's post-game analysis of "He was fine."

Foley and Edzo made Huet sound as if he was the second coming of Tony Esposito. I understand they didn't have much to sell in the Hawks' boring 3-1 win at Nashville.

A blender with eight different settings that can also slice and dice would have been more appealing.

I mean, my God, where are the Irsays when you need them? I hope someone moved the Predators out of town overnight without anybody knowing, because right now Mozart's Requiem has become the club's theme song in Music City.

But I'll have to step in here for Quenneville and tell you that Huet was fine. He made a few strong stops. Repeat, a few. He wasn't worthy of the excitement in Foley's voice.

I have always liked Pat. He is a unique and vibrant voice and a helluva guy. I have not one Paul Bunyan ax to grind with him. But it's a one-shrill-fits-all style.

Since Huet has been forced to walk the gang-plank with his play this season, and because Huet has been under pressure, the fact he won at all the night after Andy Niemi also did as little as possible to beat Edmonton suddenly became news in the telling of the story.

I guess I'm not breaking news here that the Hawks announcers are selling the Hawks. It's what they are hired to do. Objectivity is a ruse.

But don't try to tell me that Huet erased all doubts that he is the No. 1 goalie by stopping tepid Nashville. If not for a shot going off the skate of a Hawks defenseman, the Predators' horrid offense would have been non-existent again.

I marked it down. I began to yawn with 7 minutes left in the first period. Without adrenalin, once again I was forced to survive on vodka. Some of us give all we have. This game was a prime exhibit why hockey isn't being bought by the general public. It was macrame with no needles.

I almost wished at one point the Predators would go on a 5-0 run, so the Hawks would have to do the same as Monday, when they destroyed Calgary's defensive credibility in a 6-5 win.

What did we learn Thursday other than that the Hawks can play down to their outclassed opponent and win going away?

We learned Dustin Byfuglien is one hell of a force at the crease when the defense doesn't have the balls to push him out of the way and he can slam in a Brent Seabrook shot on a rebound with no mussing his beautiful locks.

We learned Troy Brouwer is making up for the absence of Adam Burish and Ben Eager by effectively throwing his body into the middle of the action and being a major nuisance. I'm trying to sell Brouwer for the second time this week as much as Foley is selling Huet.

Unfortunately, I'm getting paid by no one.

We learned the Hawks defensemen are creeping further up in the offensive zone to score. Duncan Keith's goal off a Jonathan Toews' pass after Seabrook kept the puck alive at the blueline continued a trend of Chicago defensemen getting ever closer to the net to take a high-percentage shot.

It was like a pinball shot when you think the ball is just out of reach. The lazy Predators essentially froze as Seabrook-Toews-Keith hammered home the pinball.

We learned Dave Bolland has to stop taking dumb penalties late in games.

We learned Jack Skille has aggressive, awkward skills, even if he somehow looks like a bull in a china shop attempting to make plays.

We learned the Hawks can go 5-1-1 without even playing their best hockey. Now, that's scary.

We learned that guys like Andrew Ladd and Brouwer are making this team successful as much as Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

We learned Huet can be just fine when nobody challenges him too much.

We learned Nashville has no idea when and how to shoot the puck.

We learned objectivity is in the eye of the beholder.

Hawks fans deserve better than to be sold a bill of goods during a Comcast broadcast about how imposing Huet has become in facing a terrible team.

Just tell us the story. Don't sell us the story.

We want objectivity, not obsequious, obnoxious oversimplification. Leave that to me.

We know who is paying your salary. But try to pretend like it doesn't matter.

We want to believe in heroes. But we don't need to have you make them up out of a few decent saves.

If Quenneville can say "he was fine," I guess that's good enough for Foley and Edzo.

Are we all fine with that?

The Hawks are the best in the Western Conference right now. Huet is...well, he is a work in progress,

I hope that progress is forward. But Thursday proved he was inching forward, not surging.

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8 Comments

fanof19 said:

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I'm enjoying the team Tallon built. Even if McDonough is trying to get me to believe someone else built it.

Mike Kiley said:

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Hey, Dale, is that you? Don't let Johhny Mac brainwash you. As long as you keep telling people how Patrick Sharp got to Chicago, Tallon will never fade in the fans' memories.

Dave Morris said:

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Mike, another fine article from you.

As the Blackhawk strategy is now to reduce opposition shots to as close to zero as possible, all further practices will be held without a goaltender.

That fine product, Sham WOW!, will be issued as standard equipment to help clean the crease of any garbage that might lead to enemy scoring chances.

Monsieur Huet will be practising with Cirque Du Soleil.

And that's just fine.

I've always enjoyed the fine work of Mr. Foley and Mr. Olczyk, especially the fine banter between these fine men. Shucks, I don't even mind that they're shameless Hawkey hawkers, because they do such a fine job of it. But there are hawkers and hucksters, as you say.

Can we agree the most important thing about last night's fine, though admittedly soporific, win was that the Hawks (looking mighty fine at 5-1-1) didn't lose to Nashville--which has too often been the case?

I'm fine with that. You?

One could, of course, go over this win with a fine tooth comb, and probably find more than a few flakes of dandruff.

As for these outrageous claims about you being a hack--no doubt engendered by your refined, though often obstreperous iconoclasm--we can dismiss those claims as, 'piffle'.

By the way, Q was spotted on the plane this morning wearing a t-shirt that said, "I'm OK, you're just fine."

Who needs Doctor Phil?

andyc said:

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Mike..remember there's only one thing worse then being talked about....and that's not being talked about!! Keep up the great work. You have made many valid points here and I think there are still many of us who get nervous when the opposing team crosses our blue line with "Baby Huet" in net...but last nights game wasn't a huge tester for him, hardly any shots but just the tonic he needed to get some confidence back. Watching the last few games has been fun and I can't wait until Eager and Burish are back on the ice to add some grit. Again, love the blogs...keep speaking your mind..its great reading from here in chilly Toronto where all hell is breaking loose in terms of goaltending and NHL hockey!!

CT said:

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Agreed that Foley and Olczyk were over the top in their praise of Huet, but I don't think that's an agenda, other than homerism. They gave Niemi the same treatment during the Edmonton game (and he was very ordinary that night). Huet was fine. He made a few nice stops when needed, but the Hawk defense and the Preds ineptitude kept the shots to a minimum.

Prior to the start of the season, we had a Red Wings blogger on our Puckcast, and he scoffed at the idea of the Hawks contending with Huet in goal. When we pointed out that Osgood was probably no better and had won a few Cups himself, he joked then that if the Hawks could keep opponents to less than 25 shots a game(like the almighty Red Wings do), the Chicago had a chance with Huet.

Hawks opponents are averaging 20 shots a game. So far, so good.

Dave Morris said:

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CT, you had a Red Wings blogger on your puckcast, and he dared to scoff? Scandalous.

FearlessFreep said:

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All Huey had to do yesterday was avoid the soft goal, as Eddie said in the pregame. He did that - if not for a puck deflecting off of Hjalmarsson's skate, he'd have a SO. I'm not defending Huet, but give the guy credit - he made all the stops he needed to. All the Huet bashing reminds me of how many people seem to WANT Huet to fail just so they can pound their chests and say they were right about Huet's goaltending skills. I know; I was guilty of this early last year with Buff - I recall saying that he was this era's Adam Creighton, and that's damning criticism. But much to my ego's chagrin and my fan's delight, he's come around and has become an integral part of the team's offense.

I did find it curious, however, that Huet was immediately named the Hawks' player of the night by Pat and Eddie at the conclusion of the game.

Huet played well - he didn't need nor did he have an opportunity to play great. At this point, that's good enough for me. And I still think he'll be fine as the Hawks' number 1 goaltender.

pilote3 said:

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Thanks for bringin up Ladd Mike.If they gave 3 assists Laddie would have had 80 pts last year.And he just 22 and a former num1 pick.I cant stand Eddie,except for his stop it right here!Bring Dale back to the booth,him and Pat were loke Abbott and Costello.Thanks for another great article Mike

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