Happy New Year: The question is still the same,

Happy New Year: The question is still the same,

Will there be NHL hockey soon?

I cam across this great article at Hockey Prospectus that was written from a lawyer's perspective. Not being a big fan of our judicial system, I cannot claim to know much about it. This article really puts the whole mess in perspective for me, so I urge you to read it if you have not.

The biggest argument seems to be that it is in the best interest of everyone involved that something gets figured out very soon. I think the owners are in crisis mode, and that the players are most likely starting to see the reasons for coming to an agreement asap. This sense of urgency has most likely skipped Donald Fehr, but even he should be seeing reason at this point.

As it stands, the NHL made what they call, "a comprehensive proposal" at the end of last week. From the looks of it, it might actually be a fair CBA. You can read more about it here at TSN

The NHLPA talked for about 30 minutes with the NHL, which apparently ended when Fehr said he needed time to review it. Makes sense, no need to argue without knowing the specifics. Take your time, read it, and then resume talks, right? A new meeting was tentatively set up and they talked yesterday which involved a couple of counter-proposal talk from both sides.

Time is running out, and the dreaded "disclaimer of interest" is looming over both side's head. Many say that an agreement must be made tomorrow, and in the least by Friday for any hockey to be played this year.

I make no predictions. Here is what Vegas Hawk's Fan had to say about it all in a comment to the last post on PowWow:

If that happens, we will have plenty to talk about. In the meantime, just for discussion sake, I think this lockout was a good thing for the Hawks. For two seasons now, we have not seen forward movement. for cap reasons, the winning team was blown up and the team, at best, has been treading water waiting for SB to collect prospects and trade out of bad contracts like Campbell's. I don't fault him for not going batshit through two free agencies where the talent at the top received ridiculous payday's. Even still he could be over the cap in the new deal, but the Hawks are in much better shape then many teams and we have some prospects to at least have some optimism about.

As for a guy like Kane, I can only hope that this lockout and his experience in Europe has given him some maturity he absolutely would not have gained here. At the least, he is playing hockey and is NOT partying with his entourage. Likely, there is probably very little for him to do there BUT play hockey and perhaps, he may be rubbing elbows with other young men who can give him some perspective on exactly how lucky he is. When and if the day comes that Kane starts to act a bit more like Toews on and off the ice, I think he could become a monster. But, he could always be the guy who consistently puts up 25-30 goals and never does more. Who knows.

As for the guys like Leddy, Kruger, Shaw, Ben Smith, Bollig, and a couple of others just coming up from college, I think they have gotten a rare opportunity precisely because of the lockout. Rather then being truly demoted to a level of hockey one below the NHL, these players have all gotten to play against a blended level of AHL and NHL talent. So, without having to deal with the emotional baggage of feeling demoted, they have gotten to play against still solid talent but at a pace slightly below the NHL level. While this will be great for these players individually, the big question will still be what does Stan do with them?

What we won't get this year is our wish that Q be replaced. On the plus side, it's been half a season he hasn't been allowed to fuck with a player's head the way he did Brouwer. Still, much as I like players like Leddy and Kruger, they will never, ever be the bone crushing players that many want to see here. Even I would admit the Hawks need such players and the coaching staff needs to evolve well beyond Q's game of stretch passes and puck control that lasts for two whole minutes before a turnover that goes 200 feet the other way and scores in 5 seconds.

Still, when and if they come back for a shortened season, it will be much easier to accept for me that this is not a real season and that from the first game to the last, it will be an extended tryout to determine what happens in the free agency, which, BTW, should have quite a few good players available. Admittedly, the clock is ticking on Kane and Toews who will have two seasons after this year. I can't imagine the Hawks are able to keep both when their contracts expire. Still, though there are some players I really like who have contracts that only go though 2014 (in some cases), the time has come for Bowman to truly finish deciding what kind of team he wants for the future.

Anyway, that's more then enough. Happy New Year everyone




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  • On the prospects: Leddy and Kruger are not looking very good. Leddy has shown some strength as a player, but he is still having issues physically. On another team right now, he can be a 5-6 guy. With the Hawks current defensive roster, I just don't think he makes it. Kruger is not looking like an NHL player in the AHL. But, Brandon Pirri has. If it was my team, Pirri would be the guy to make the step up, which is what I have been saying for more than a year now.

    Saad has been the real story though. This guy has so much promise, and is a beast on the ice. His future looks great. I have little doubt that he will make the leap.

    Shaw will get an opportunity to continue his moment in the sun, and we shall see where that takes us. With Carbomb on the ice, I hope not to see Bollig as well. Not that I dislike the guy, but we just wouldn't need him around. There are other, more talented players who can fill his specific role.

    Like you said Vegas, as long as Q is around, I worry about the future. I can see him not giving Pirri a chance, and dressing all of the wrong players because his head is stuck in old time hockey mode.

    I agree with your assessment of Kane, but would add that his price-tag could actually lower due to his past performances on and off of the ice.

    Not so shocking, I am most excited to see Stalberg's improvement, and just what that will mean for the team. If Carbomb has actually learned his lesson, Saad continues to be the beast he has become, and Stalberg lives up to my expectations, we could be looking as a stronger squad than the championship roster had. Sans goalie of course.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    To judge the maximum upside of Leddy based on last year seems pretty harsh. He was put into that spot way too early and he was 20 years old with no meat on his frame at all. I'll make a friendly wager of some kind with you to give 20 bucks to a charity you pick if both players are not back. I believe both will be. A bigger problem HH, I think, is that SB is simply not going to build a team that resembles either the Bruins or the Kings. Duncan Keith and now Hammer are not players that opposing forwards fear. and of course, neither are Oduya or Leddy.

    For better or for worse, the Bowmans seem dead set on that fabled "puck moving Dman". Look at Rockford, no monsters there. I hate to say it, but if the second pair is Hammer and Oduya, it's not fundamentally different from Leddy and Hammer. Better skilled maybe, but not functionally different. Which brings us to basically hoping the Hawks find some forwards who have some grit but can also actually play some hockey. Most people don't want Carbomb anywhere near the second line, he's not a checking forward and if he's fourth line, I kinda wonder what's the point?

    What I most fear is that we see a continuation of Toews, Hossa, Sharp and Kane with an endlessly rotating cast of characters to round out the top six. I imagine Stals will probably stay up in top six, so that leaves room really for only one guy. I dunno, it's gonna be weird to see how this all shakes out.

    I don't want to make this too long, but I have to give a stick tap the Las Vegas Wranglers for putting together a very entertaining first ever, Indoor Winter Classic. The opened up the massive doors at ice level to let in some cold breeze and played some cheesy swirling winds sounds and blew fake snow from the rafters. Best of all, they ripped on the NHL constantly and at the highlight, announced, "Let's go live the Outdoor Classic" and then showed a video of a helicopter circling an empty Michigan stadium. Now that it's mid season there, the competition is getting pretty good.

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