The Chicago Blackhawks after the Convention 2012.

The Chicago Blackhawks after the Convention 2012.

It is a hard time to write about the Blackhawks, especially as the winds of change blow towards other directions of the NHL. Still, things are brewing and there might even be a little bit to say about the current Hawks roster following the weekend of publicity at this year's convention. Publicity that encouraged us to believe in Crawford, that showcased the same old faces, and brought about some apologies from a young winger.

Amidst continuous rumors that the Hawks are actively speaking with Roberto Luongo, Corey Crawford had to repeatedly respond to questions on how he felt that the Hawks were looking elsewhere. I feel for the guy, and I want to believe in him. Unfortunately for him, I doubt he is still around by this time next year. Finding a new, and elite goaltender is Stan Bowman's number one priority as it should be. I don't think any team wins the Cup without it.

Not much new to see at this year's convention, or so I have heard, but there are still a few new faces. Of the Blackhawks making their first convention appearance, I have to say that I would have gone straight for Shaw's booth. I would get a huge kick out of shaking his hand, congratulating him on a season well done, and then asking him how in the hell he does it.

Of course, there was also a new D-man added to the roster. While many are complaining about SB's non-action in the free-market, I still want to point out that Brookbank was a good grab, and maybe the one piece that the Hawks were in huge need of (besides goaltending). The news is music to Hjalmer's ears, as it seems he has avoided being traded for the time being. This is something that I am happy about. IMO, Hjalmer has much better to give, and I have a feeling we see it this year, if he sticks around that long.

Yes, I am stating my approval of the roster as it stands, as built by SB with some leftovers. The pieces are overwhelmingly here, and I think the defense can be the necessary wall in front of Crawford (based on the roster). I would not complain if another name was added, in the form of a Shane Doan, but I am not actively calling for it either. Doan would make the team better, but at a cost, and with the way contracts have been signed this year, it might not have been a bad year to stay out of it.

While we are on it, holy cow! Players are getting paid! Apparently the forecast called for rain, because it is raining all over UFA's and the like this summer. Do I think Minnesota became a better team? Hell yes. I also think Nashville did the right thing in keeping Weber around, but at what cost to both team's future's. 1 player does not bring home a Cup (goaltenders kind of excluded). I find the Nash deal to be the most interesting, and at first glance feel that it made both teams better. New York gave up a lot for Nash, and this will make Columbus a better team for it. I also think that Nash is far better than he has shown these past seasons and that many give him credit for. He will do well in New York, and I see them as being a top 4 team next year.

All this talk of star players makes me think of the Hawks, and how we sure do have them. As I just stated, the pieces are here, and what isn't seems to be waiting in the prospect pool. The Hawks might not have found that 2nd line center in the NHL, but the answer could very well be within the organization already. Plus, I anticipate a couple of breakout seasons from certain players, cough, Stalberg, cough.

The question is coaching, and chemistry. I am sorry to say, I think we are in for a bit of a repeat of the last 2 seasons. A better and more entertaining version though. If Q is still here come March, I think the Hawks will finish within the top 3 of the conference, and most likely win the division. Based on past experiences, I also see them getting to the 2nd round, but not much after that. The Hawks will most likely be playing with an added flame this year. But, that flame will fade out under the current coaching staff. Really, the lack of system approach and motivation is sickening.

If the Hawks stay healthy, Crawford plays a little better than last year, and just 1 of the prospects makes a decent impact, I think the Hawks have the talent to overcome the bad coaching again, just as they did a few years back. If Kane brings his A game this year, we might even see improvements on the power-play. I am really on the fence about Kaner though. He is one of the players that I think is not a Q supporter, so how he reacts this year (with everything in mind) will be interesting. After Q, he might have the most to prove, to himself and the NHL.

When asked about the suggested differences between he and Stan Bowman, Q just sort of avoided the question and changed the question. This is pretty much what I think he does to every question asked of him though, so nothing is a surprise there. I really am a hater on Q, aren't I? Well, I guess I was one of the firsts too. Oh well.

In review, this Hawks fan is expecting an interesting season. The Hawks will win lots of games, but under Q it makes me apprehensive. I want them to win, but I also think severe coaching changes are needed for future growth. I also anticipate one big change on the roster during the season. Be it a goaltender or something else. It will be very interesting indeed.

 

Filed under: View from the Bench

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  • I feel bad for Crawford too. But, I start too many flames as it is, so I'm going to go too far down the road of defending him except to say one thing, I don't think Niemi is an elite goalie and the Hawks did fine with him. There is no way to prove this, but if he had stayed with the D we had the last two years, especially last year, I don't believe he would have been substantially better then Crow. Crow was not good last year and I'm really hoping he has a bounce back year because if not, I would bet serious money the Hawks go after who ever is hot this coming season and then make him the next Huet.

    But, the chemistry thing is something I think we all keep coming back to. When the team had it, they won a cup. Without it, they exited in the first round. The money being thrown around in free agency got stupid and I'm glad the Hawks did not commit. You said it HH, at what cost did these teams get the best players? I'm going to make a prediction, Nash will not win a cup in NY. Clearly, NY got the most talent on paper in that deal, but what the Jackets desperately need (not at all unlike the Hawks) are parts that create a greater sum. Will the core respond better to players that came up in the system as opposed to pickups from outside? I honestly don't know, but I sure as shit hope so.

    But I will be a downer and say this. The Kane/Carbomb thing last year was an experiment that I was liking. If it doesn't work though, I think the team has got to say the Kane at center experiment is over. In small sample sizes, I like what I saw of Ben Smith, Morin and of course, Shaw. But it's a gamble that you can make two of that trio work out and I think that getting two to contribute is exactly what the team needs. While I like that the Hawks have not gone bat guano overpaying for free agents, there is no denying that Q has got to manage his lines better and balance what he has to work with. I'm cautiously optimistic, for now.

  • Americans have this saying about their government. "Same shit, different pile." That's my take on the 'hawks as presently constituted. With no significant changes there seems to be a lot of hope pinned on what if's.

    Can Carcillo perform with an above average hockey IQ? Can Shaw match his performance from last year? Will Kruger step up? Will Frolik reappear? Will Bickell have a great contract year? Will Hammer rebound? Will Leddy gain a few pounds. Will Crawford rebound? Is Hossa going to be the same player again? Will Q suddenly change his style? And on and on it goes …

    I have a saying I use for training that goes like this: The faster something moves, the quicker it can fade away, but that which is slowly built demonstrates the strength to last.

    Out of context, for me this applies to the Stan Bowman philosophy of building through the draft. To that extent—and I'm not saying it is the best thing right now for this team—it is hard to fault his inactivity this year towards affecting real change on the roster. As you both have stated the FA prices are outrageous and I agree he was wise to stay out of it or, perhaps lucky, in not being able to land one of them.

    For me though, I'd like to see the future now. There's no doubt this roster has an abundance of talent and if the game was a non-contact sport this team would be a perennial cup contender. Failure to address the obvious needs of a squad which is primed to win now has been a huge disappointment to me. Like the roster and coaching, I don't see much changing from last year. Complacency! It wasn't good enough then, and won't be good enough now.

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