The Chicago Blackhawks: Time to look towards the future, Part 1.

The Chicago Blackhawks: Time to look towards the future, Part 1.

Pardon any grammatical errors, as it has been a long week and an especially long night. This might be overdue by a few days, but I was enjoying reading the conversations going on in the last post, and the night with which the 2 defensive power-houses of Phoenix and Nashville square off seems like a good time to chime in on the Hawks. Do not consider this a year in review, rather a "stuff that happened", and "what I think about it" kind of post. My brain is just not ready to recall the entire year, and I feel that the most recent 6 games provide a strong enough sample of what issues the Hawks faced, and the solutions to be decided upon.

Let's get right to the point,

Coaching:

There has been ample discussion following the 4-0 loss at home about who is going and who is staying. My personal opinion is that we will not see too much changed on the roster besides the obvious and that coaching might be the best avenue for positive results. And, unless you are a first time reader, you already know how I feel about Mr. Q. Part of me expected him to get the pink slip "Major League" style within the first week of vacation. Not gonna happen. Nope, but it does seem like his buddy Mike Kitchen might be seeing pink in his future, and I have to agree with the move when it happens. There was far too much wrong with things that can be directed towards coaching and something has to happen here for things to get better.

The Roster:

Are we all in agreement that the Hawks had a better roster this year? It seemed that way for most of the year at least. Can we at least agree that their was ample talent to make the second round, and most likely claim the 4th spot in the standings?

There have been a few calls for the trading of Kane, and while I do sympathize with the reasons behind such actions, I find the point to be a useless discussion. Kane is going nowhere and SB has said as much. "He is our second line center," according to Stan.

I have also heard a few asking for Stalberg to be traded. His worth is as high as it will get. WRONG! He has a lot of room to grow (superstar skill and is a good size) and was one of the few happy surprises of the season (though I did see it coming).

We can all agree that Shaw was stellar, and my guess is that Saad will be a consistent name on the ice for future games. The verdict is out on Bickell, but I see Frolik getting another shot given his ridiculous performance in the playoffs. Someone mentioned trading Bolland to which I responded with a very loud and sarcastic, HA! I would sooner see Kane leave. Brunette is most likely not coming back and Q is in love with Kruger (more on that at a later time).

That leaves us with the defense and brings us to our biggest concern going into the 2012-13 season.

Defense:

Oduya, Montador, Hjalmer, Leddy, and Olsen. All of these names are up for review and questionable to start the next season off. Possibly the largest concern after the power-play, the defensive game of the Hawks is under some just criticism. Given the absolutely horrifying performance by Leddy in the post-season, his future must surely be up for deliberation. Oduya is unlikely to return given his price-tag and lack luster showing towards the end of the season, but his early spark once joining the team gives enough reason to possibly have another look. It would seem like his place on the team is very much connected to how the Hawks feel about Hammer, who is someone I am also not ready to give up on. My guess is that Olsen has earned a spot on the starting roster next season. Fix the defense and we have a much improved game from the Hawks

And yet, even though the defense was such an area for concern, it does not only fall on the defensemen themselves. It was the "team defense" that worried me the most, and again I point in the direction of coaching for that one.

Getting on the same page:

If there is one thing that is becoming more and more clear as time moves along, it is that Q and SB do not see eye to eye on this team, and I do believe something will have to crack before serious progression can be made. Q has made statements about how the team chemistry was lacking, and that players did not know their roles (no kidding on the roles Sherlock, I wonder who is to blame for that one?). SB has stated that he likes a lot of the players that made up this year's roster and points to a rough year in some of their cases. He also likes his prospects. Q points to the 2010 Cup team as having chemistry, and I hope that he learns to stop using them as an example, because that team was stacked. I know they made it so you did not have to coach, but lets move on buddy. Simply put Q, you rely way too much on the players you had during that run, and have not made any effort to give them something to work with. Loading up Toews/Kane/Hossa on one line does not even attempt to deal with the lack of production from your team, emphasis on the team, lack of net presence, team defense, and balanced attack in any sort of way.

On Kaner, Stan sees his #2 center, and Q sees him on the wing. I hate to say it, but I might agree with Q here, but you can not ignore the success that the Hawks had when Kane was a center. Lets ignore for the moment that Kane played center, left wing, and right wing in the Phoenix series. Stan sees no other options in the free market, but is keeping his eyes open. Q thinks the answer is Kruger with whom he has an undying love for. IMO, Kruger will not be on next year's roster. Brandon Pirri is a more likely candidate.

Removing Kitchen from the room might send a message to Q that he needs to get on the same page.

I personally feel like the pieces were there to go deep, but that they were not used correctly. Point and case, the first 2 periods of the last game in which Q finally brought balance to his lines and it was far too much for the Yotes to handle. I have other evidence, but I am tired at the moment. The Hawks have made slight comments about the loss of Brouwer hurting, and I would much rather have him around than Carcillo, but it is what it is. Still, when I look at what Bickell was doing in the series, how well Shaw was working out, that Frolik was sitting games out only to be the best player on the ice the last few games, that Stalberg was having a good year, that prospects were filling in nicely, and Mayers was an added bonus, I do not see talent as the excuse. Yes, there needs to be some change. Maybe in the form of a power foward, but the pieces were there.

I saw a lack of understanding and decision making from the coaching staff. It was slow to make a choice and stick with it, there was a lack of understanding towards the players as individuals, their skills and how they fit into the team's goals. Add in the terrible power-play, lack of a system throughout the past few years, lack of cohesion with the line combos, and lack of consistency in inspired motivation from the team, and the overbearing faith in the "core" players above all else while kicking other potential to the bench; Yep, think some things need to change in those departments.

More on these themes and goaltending in Part 2 when the rant continues.

Filed under: View from the Bench

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  • Preds down 2-0. Watching that game last night gave me some appreciation for how many times the Hawks were able to move the puck against the Yotes. That was near sixty minutes of pure man to man coverage last night and the Preds had no room to move whatsoever.

    I said before the start of this season that I imagined the Hawks would be a better team at any given point then they were in the year right after the cup. And they were. Being a better team though came through some slightly better free agency signings. In a lot of ways though, I've seen little change from the way the team played the game three years ago. I can accept that last year would be a down year, but what bothers me a lot is that there really wasn't any forward movement this year. That makes the job this summer a lot tougher.

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