Well, today's the day we get to watch the Hawks and start our second half of the season dissection of every game to see whether the Hawks are real contenders or just a decent team that needs to make a big trade to have any hope of winning. For my two cents, unless the team is trading for the fabled true second line center that everybody wants, I don't see them making one. And given how much effort they have put into not filling that spot by trade or free agency, I don't see them making any earth shattering move there. As half seasons go, we simply cannot bitch about he record, the coaching or really the play of any individual player. While it remains to be seen (by me anyway) which of the Hawks, Habs or Ducks is this years lighting in a bottle team, I don't believe that any of the Hawks players are overperforming at an unsustainable level and one or two likely have a little more to hit. The opening season run was great, but I don't expect the team to go right back out and play full throttle hockey every night from here til playoffs. I have no doubt the Ducks are going to catch the Hawks in the standings and are going to pass them. I'm actually okay with that. Let someone else carry the bullseye for awhile.
Speaking of the Ducks, Bob Murray has seen the fanfare that Jay Feaster got for his stupidity and has predictably one upped him. Apparently, after seeing a year of decreased production from Getzlaf, after seeing all the bitterness of the lockout and after seeing the cap for next year reduced, Murray logically concluded that the best course of action would be to sign Getzlaf to an 8 year, 8.25 million per year extension. If anyone had any doubt as to whether we will have another lockout in 8 years, look no further then this contract. In the past, I was never really one to bitch about what players made. Some contracts, like Brian Campbell's, made plenty seethe with bitterness and even I have to admit he is vastly overpaid. But, while I could blame/thank Tallon for building a team that won the cup and needed to be promptly blown up, I can now blame Murray for ensuring that the Hawks make the same bad decision he just did when Kane and Toews contracts expire at the end of the 2014/15 season. Of course, the assumption is that the cap will go right back up again and there will be plenty of space. However, after taking one look at this link from cap geek, http://capgeek.com/blackhawks I don't see much to be optimistic about.
At the start of the 14/15 season, Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Seabrook and Keith will make a combined 35 million. Just to make things even better, several contracts will expire the summer of 14, namely Bolland, Hjalmarsson and Crawford. I assumed the cap will go up some, but with the bar for a "franchise" player now set at north of 8 million a year, I can only imagine where the price will be by the time Toews and Kane are set for new deals. If not this season, I still think the team is in good shape to be a contender next year, although they will likely do so without the services of Stalberg and Bickell who are both likely to get overpaid for their services somewhere else. I like Stalberg a lot, but I don't believe the Hawks are going to be able to give him either the years or the money that someone else will. Signing Oduya for less then he had been making was impressive and if SB can feed Stalberg some of the same spiked meatballs he gave Oduya, maybe they keep him after all. Regardless, if people weren't already thinking this is a year to go all in, I think that the Getzlaf contract has to make you at least start considering it.
I see Hayes is up with the team and skating second line and I'm glad to see SB start to use the hogs to see what he has. I'd like to see Smith or Morin get some time, but I can't argue with putting a guy with Hayes size up there. As I said before, I don't watch the hogs, but I've read or heard that Hayes is not a particularly nasty edge player. Still, if he can angry bird his way to the front of the net and create space for Kane, that could be huge. Wonder if he will take any faceoffs. Trade wise, I've read some of the speculation out there on various blogs and I can't say I'm overly impressed. A true, second line center, rental player seems to make some sense. Otherwise, I don't really know. Up til now, I had been thinking that trading Stals rather then letting him walk for nothing was something to at least consider. Now, I think they need to keep him, go for the cup and deal with the fallout this summer.
We now return to whatever useful thing you were doing before reading this.
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