Well, it's about that time to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. For awhile now, I have been wanting to write something about Hossa. I don't want to completely rip off today's post at Hockey Buzz by John Jaeckal, but he hit on something that I have been feeling for awhile watching the team this year. There has been a change in the way this team is playing and in my opinion, Hossa is a big part of it. Admittedly, I have not watched Hossa a lot outside of a Hawks uniform. I did start to watch him a little more in the back to back years of the Pens and Wings cups and honestly, I was a little put off when the Hawks signed him. I thought he was a great player, but that he played a game entirely different from the team he joined in the cup year. Much as I enjoyed watching him conduct puck control clinics in games, I still felt like most of his line mates just didn't "get" him. And I have felt that way for two years until now.
Multiple times here I have made wisecracks that he is like a Rolex clock radio on this team and that the team just didn't play a defensive type game that made good use of what a guy like Hossa brings. A few times, I have speculated that having played with Hossa would make Kane and Toews much better players down the road and this year I have become convinced of that. Still, after watching the last two seasons, I never believed the entire team would begin to play like he does. When I watch the team now, I see what is much more of a relentless effort. Yeah, they've given up some third period leads, but even in the cup year, I did not remember them being so aggressive in forcing turnovers. Individually though, when I watch Toews, Kane, Frolik, Saad?and maybe Shaw, I see a lot of what looks like what Hossa does. Protecting the puck, stripping pucks, never giving up on a play, pushing sticks away with a free hand, etc. Up and down the lines, (defensemen are a little different story) I see either better decisions with the puck or I see guys using their bodies to protect the puck and move it to a different spot to try and open up some space. About the only thing left for this team to do is learn how to set picks for each other while moving the puck. All that good shit said, I can't figure out why they can't score on the power play.
Of course, Hossa has not done this by himself. For much of the last two years, we have heard that everything in the front office of the Hawks is shit, that Stan Bowman is an idiot, that McDonough controls SB to the point of telling when he can use the bathroom and so on. We have, of course, heard much the same about Q. Undoubtedly, the Hawks have had some great luck this year. IE, the lockout allowed everyone to get fully back to health, it gave guys like Kane a chance to see something different, there weren't a lot of new faces and there was plenty of time for guys to deal with Haviland getting sacked. Still, I feel like there is a bigger vision starting to unfold , and it's probably Scotty Bowman's vision or at least a chunk of it. It might be a bit much to attach to much importance to Hossa, but if Bowman Sr. really intended to stamp his personality on this team, I can't think of many players better then Hossa to have in the middle of the start of a new era.
In other news, the Hawks clinch the conference with five games left to go. On the downside, they only face a playoff bound team once in the next five games and that leaves plenty of room for a bottom dwelling team to try and inflict some pain on the Hawks to make their own pathetic seasons feel less painful. Of course, I want to see them get some time for LeBlanc, but it would also be nice to see Pirri get some time as well. I don't know that I want to see Q go to a full pre season mentality, but it would be nice to see him give one or two top line guys a night off here and there to keep some juice for the playoffs. Final note, anyone besides me notice that Bollig is attempting to play hockey rather then just start stupid fights?