Blackhawks Confidential

The Fifth Feather cancels its Huet endorsement, net result of inadequate play

Well, I suspect it's curtains and black crepe now for Cristobal Huet. The Fifth Feather has cancelled its endorsement contract with the Blackhawks goaltender, washed him away as if he was Tiger Woods being informed by Gatorade that he didn't quench anybody's thirst for clean living and good family fun and so take your disgraced putter elsewhere.

That's the biggest news I have seen come out of Sunday's ass-itching 5-4 loss to Detroit, a setback that makes you squirm just a little too much for comfort, as if a gerbil or a mousy goalie has managed to crawl up your butt during turbulence at 30,000 feet and the seat belt you have used for reasonable restraint all season is starting to pinch as you heave-ho.

I guess you can debate all the numbers and whether Tiger Woods screwed more mistresses than Huet has screwed his Chicago fans, but the FF is fed up and after preaching patience to all us nervous nellies the FF in Monday's ethereal edition of the top thinking-man's Blackhawks blog comes real close to telling Huet to go FO.

I'm trusting all of my savvy readers on this no-thinking-man's blog know what FO means when the FF drops the feather and goes for the hammer. Simply refer back to Woods and his secret holes-in-one for clarification if you have not graduated with dishonor yet from choirboy or choirgirl school.

Now, blackhawkbob and John are as one on the Fifth Feather, as Mark and I are here, proving it takes two to tangle, be it opinions, ideas or observations. But it was blackhawkbob sent out to do an assassin's work who bounced baby Huey higher and harder than the FF has at any point this season.

If Huet has lost the mainstream, the Hawks may want to consider if that means they will be floating downstream with Huet's carcass before too long. Listen now to blackhawk bob as he falls to his knees, flings his hand to the heavens and prays to God that they haven't been supporting a devil in sheep's clothing all this time for no sane reason at all.

"As John mentioned in the comments section, we've been diplomatic about the situation from day one...We've believed he was the Hawks' best answer in net all year...When Huet started slowly this season, we told you to "Wait." When he gave up a bagful of goals against Dallas or Calgary at home, we said, 'Don't worry, it's not springtime yet.'

"But the Hawks' goaltending situation may have reached crisis mode in the past week. Let me be clear: It has nothing to do with the lack of trade deadline activity. That ship sailed July 1, 2008, when Dale Tallon stunned the hockey world with the signing of Huet...Well, now the "stretch run" is upon us, and Huet looks like a new-born calf wearing an oversized chest protector. He did all week.

"When I/we said earlier this season that Huet would be fine, we assumed he'd recover and gain the trust and support of the Hawk fan base. It never happened...Today I think was the tipping point...What does it all mean? He's had a tough year and that the odds he'll meaningfully turn it around are getting slimmer by the minute. Next, it likely means that we'll get a healthy dose of Antti Niemi for the next couple weeks...(Joel Quenneville) will have to try something new by sticking with Niemi through a difficult patch."

Personally, I believe Quenneville has done a good job all season. Guys like Dave Tippett get the recognition to be Coach of the Year by doing the unexpected with Phoenix, but I consider it more important to be able to take a good team, like the Hawks, and make them consistently effective and among the league's best. I think it is more difficult to pull off than a major overhaul.

However, unless Quenneville can calm down the canker sore that is threatening to take one of the NHL's prettiest faces (just ask Patrick Kane, if you don't believe me) and turn it into a hag, Quenneville is going to share blame, along with a front office that will be forced into buying Huet out of his contract if these playoffs go down the tube early.

Just as the Bears ultimately had to admit Rex Grossman wasn't going to be the answer, forced to stop lying to their fans that he would be fine if the team responded around him, Huet has become the Hawks' Grossman--a guy that does just enough to string you along until you get so weary of being hung out to dry you snip the cord in a heartbeat--and wonder why it took you so long.

What's left for Q to try? The only thing he hasn't attempted is sticking with Niemi after he has lost games or played poorly. It's all fine for Q to keep saying he is trying to change a game's momentum by yanking goalies, but he runs the risk of making both guys begin to stare back over their shoulders at the first sign of adversity. That's not good and can become a clubhouse cancer.

Q is going to have to take a stand with one of these guys within the next couple weeks, not continue to juggle and hope for the best. He and the team must take the relentless focus off the goaltending or else the Hawks go into the postseason with their worst nightmare: an easy excuse for why they will fail. That creeps into minds whether they want to believe it or not and serves as a certain killer sooner or later.

The Sun-Times' Carol Slezak had an interesting column Sunday from an interview with Tony Esposito. "All I know is the Red Wings won a few Stanley Cups with what I thought was less than adequate goaltending," Espo said. "Not that I'm comparing ours with theirs; I believe ours is better. But people will believe it when they see it."

The Hawks are better than less than adequate, I therefore assume. Does that make the Hawks almost adequate or sometimes adequate or half-assed OK?

There are still people out there telling you to read the NHL goaltending stats and see how well Huet and Niemi have played overall and don't be frightened, things will be fine. Even Espo said that. And, I have to admit, they have a point. Just not a popular point.

"They are two NHL-caliber goaltenders and a good playoff run will make the situation look a lot better," Espo predicted.

It concerns me, though, that after what appears to be an exclusive interview with Huet after Sunday's game, Tribune columunist David Haugh has shifted from telling us how smart the Hawk front office is to telling us how silly we are to distrust Huet, who is sharper than all us dummies realize.

Haugh said Huet was speaking in soft tones to him outside the Hawks dressing room. I would prefer Huet spoke in very loud tones to a full contingent of press in the locker room just to show us he is a standup guy, but whatever. Just the reporter in me. I'm taking medicine trying to stop this cancerous growth.

After reading Huet's quotes in Haugh's column, I can see clearly now why no one cares if they ever quote the guy. He has nothing to say of any importance or insightfulness, just mish-mash, which unfortunately is how he plays goal--some times up, some times down, too much in-between.

But Haugh telling us that it would be a mistake to not stick with Huet now flies into the face of the Fifth Feather telling the Hawks, Huet and us, patience is at an end and it is high time to reconsider the status quo.

Now, the Fifth Feather might have a smaller readership than Haugh's. But, thank God, they definitely have a much smarter one.



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madara said:


After reading Haugh's column I wanted to punch a hole in the paper so hard the Haugh and Rex Huet would feel it like a slap upside the head, saying, "Get your act together, at least one of you are suppose to be professionals!"

Damn this is frustrating.

Lee said:

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Hawks will not go far with Huet in the nets.

Lee said:

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This time Bob and John have it right on. Unfortunate for the Hawks there is no alternate except maybe in Rockford

Hostile Hawk said:


I don't blame Huet in this scenario. I blame everyone else for thinking he has what it takes. Can the Hawks win with an average goalie in net? Sure, but Huet is less than average. How professionals did not see that is beyond me. His reaction time, mechanics, positioning, stick work, ability to find the puck and everything else under the sun are all below average, far below average. Every now and then he makes a nice save. Not enough.
Money has played a huge factor in his presence this year. Hoping that what was spent on him might pay off at some point, otherwise he would have been gone long ago. I point a finger at the coaching staff to allow Huet's confidence issues to spread to Niemi and the rest of the team. There seems to be a lack of decision making and that creates chaos everywhere. Niemi was the obvious solution long ago. Personally, I don't think there is much worse than Huet. Especially right now.
To be a strong team, players need to know their roles. With the constant juggling of lines, and even positions, the players seem to have a lack of confidence at this point. All of that can be directed at coaching. Along with a weak power play.
This is an extremely talented group of guys and they need a fire lit under their ass. As much as everyone has been looking to Huet to say something, I have been looking at coach Q to say something worth value. Maybe now with the trade deadline gone, other players can settle down knowing that they are here to stay (part of me is glad to see the team go into the playoffs closely resembling what it started with). Maybe it is time to create some determination in this squad who has been playing together for the season. Time to settle things down and play strong, fundamental hockey. Focus on defense and allow the talent to make the most of their opportunities. That is what will win a cup. Datsuk did not miss on his breakaway against Niemi and thats the kind of focus this teams needs. What Im talking about can be seen in Kane's choices on when to shoot and when to pass last game. This team has got the jitters, time for coaching to settle it down.
I say take Huet out of the equation right now. Pull up Crawford and allow this team to know who they have decided to go with.
All this drama has made this season even more exciting.

borg said:


If the Hawks had an easy road to the finals, they could probably get through make it with Huet with little problem. But now it's starting to look like there's a good chance the Hawks will have to get through Detroit, Vancouver and perhaps San Jose to win the West. There's little room for error and these goalie-induced losses are putting the Hawks in a horrible situation match-up wise.

VegasHawksFan said:


I read the post on the Feather and the post on Second City and thought the Second City post was a little better. Suddenly, this team is no longer the defensive monster it was at the start of the season. Even for you guys who feel the strongest about Huet, can you really explain it all by his suckyness? I just don't think you can. At this point, I almost wish Q would sit Huet in favor of a rec league goalie just so people would shut the fuck up and possibly realize there might be more going on then just Huet sucking really bad.

After yesterday's game, I had to ask myself if Q is getting outcoached here when it falls to Andrew Ladd to pull a hat trick and keep us in the game. Detroit is in desperation mode right now and that was abundantly clear with the way they played. In reality, the Wings let in just as many goals as the Hawks did, but they still found a way to win. Even at the bottom of the heap, the wings continue to carry themselves as if they are the team to beat and have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Undoubtedly, once the playoffs begin, the Hawks are going to have an edge with their depth, just as the wings last year had an edge with their experience. Rather than gambling that Huet can carry them, I believe that management has instead gambled that their depth can outlast Huet's flaws. Yeah, Huet has a lot to do to prove he was worth keeping. But then again, so do all the guys who people thought should be traded just so we could dump Huet.

Like pow wow said, aside from the usual Huet stuff, this team needs a fire lit under it's ass and it needs to play strong, fundamental hockey.

Jerry Kayne said:


Ladd scored the hat because the Wings forgot about him. It looked like they keyed on the big guns. Kane, Towes, Hossa, & Sharp. If the role players will score every game, or at least wear down the opponent with hitting, we'll be able to always stay ahead.

I hope the D (forwards included) can sustain the rest of the way. Campbell is playing the best I've ever seen him. It looks to me like the team is starting to get ready to peak. But it must be tough psychologically for the D corps to know if they let the puck pass them there's a 50/50 chance they'll get a minus. Must block shot ... must block shot.

Hostile Hawk said:


I don't put much worth in anything Second City says. The Hawks have still allowed a significantly less amount of shots on net than any other team this year. The defense is struggling in its own respects, but it is still much, much better than other defenses out there. At the beginning of the season I commented on Huet's ability to back the team up on the Second City site and rather than think about what I was saying, I was ridiculed for doing so. After time, I just stopped reading their blog. They just can't admit that they are wrong in this one. Nothing in Huet's game allows otherwise. The defensive breakdowns seem to have hurt Niemi more than Huet anyway.
With Bolland becoming healthy, the amount of defensive forwards the team has is at a high for the season. Going along with my earlier points and nklhd12, this is a time for Q to settle this team down and regain composure. I agree, I think he is getting out coached. This team is way too deep to be loosing some of these games. Ladd is a perfect example of that.
Lets not forget though, if that goal wasn't taken away from Kane, it would have been a completely different game. Also, letting Datsuk get a breakaway with 10 seconds left in the period just can not happen.
Maybe it is a good thing that people have given up on Huet now. There is still time to fix things before the playoffs.

VegasHawksFan said:


I remember last year when Foley or Edzo busted out the stat that when trailing by three goals, Detroit had not won in something like over 100 games. Not surprisingly the only game the Hawks won in the WCF was after they had a three goal lead that they almost blew. That goal was a let down, but a good team learns how to deal with stuff like that. Second City can be a pretty snooty place at times and I've drawn the ire of a couple of people there as well for what I thought were almost throw away comments.

Because of the complexity of Huet's situation, I spare him a lot of grief (like he would care what I think anyway) on the blogs because it seems like screaming at political commentary on TV. Q's goaltending rotation doesn't seem real hot, but neither does putting a forward on point for power plays. Despite the handicap Huet presents, (in the eyes of some) Coach Q has such a ridiculous amount of talent at his disposal that I think you have to ask, Really? We gave up how many goals in the second period after being up two nothing? Six Olympians and four medals and we can't compete with a trap? As bad as I want to see this team win this year, I also want to feel like there is a foundation being set to compete for years. Right now I feel like I am primarily seeing a pile of stunning talent thrown on the ice with sometimes stunningly good and sometimes stunningly bad results. Huet isn't the answer, but he's not my biggest question either.

iplagitr said:


I'm still trying to figure out why Q started Niemi the last four games before the Olympics--and they won all four--but then he went right back to Huet after the break. (?) There is nothing good coming from starting Huet these days. The more he plays, the more he proves he's having a bad year.

Yeah it's a team game and the Hawks as a whole have had their lapses. But when they're on, and Huet lets in a clunker, you can see them deflate as a team as well. I was on a rec league team with a really weak goalie once, and we were all about ready to kill the guy. You work your ass off and then the other team lobs one at our net and it floats in. Imagine the mental stress the Hawk players are going through often getting 30-40 shots on the opposition and only allowing 20 or so... and still coming out with a loss. It happens too often to just blame it on bad luck. I think they're just mentally shot right now from the Huet factor. Niemi may not be the ultimate answer, but they need a change to lift them emotionally.

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