Thursday, June 22, 2017

Truth and Lies:
The Marian Hossa Saga

by Gatekeeper

The Blackhawks, and the entire NHL, have had a pretty eventful couple of days this week. Unless you are living in "Fatrick's basement terror", you probably expected some Blackhawks moves, but none of us were really ready for what was reported late Tuesday night by Elliotte Friedman, then confirmed by the team early Wednesday morning. As originally reported by John Jaeckel as early as June 10th (but not confirmed by team sources) and followed up shortly thereafter by Jay Zawaski, The team announced that Marian Hossa would miss the entire 2017-18 season to deal with complication relating to a skin disorder that he has been undergoing treatment for. According to the team and their staff, Hossa has been dealing with this disorder for a while, but the treatment can only go on so long before it becomes not only ineffective but detrimental. It was also released that his hockey equipment actually makes the skin condition worse, which was impeding treatment. Anyone who has played a sport that requires this kind of equipment can attest to the fact that it can sometimes rub your skin raw, without any skin disorders.

Anyhow, I have to be completely honest; I have taken Hossa for granted during his time in Chicago. We all probably have. The guy is a slam dunk Hall of Famer, a crucial ingredient to the three cups, and one of the great gentleman in the game. It is perfectly alright to admit that you took him for granted. He flies under the radar while the flashier players hold the spotlight, but he just does everything well. When I got a Hossa jersey from my wonderful Fiancée this Christmas, I seriously contemplated trading it in for a Crawford or Panarin. As I sat and thought about this conundrum, it occurred to me that what I was contemplating was utter lunacy. Marian Hossa might be one of the most under rated players in Hawks, and maybe NHL, history. I hung onto the jersey, and I'm so grateful that I did. He is arm in arm with Jonathan Toews as the Blackhawks player that I would want my son to model himself after, which is why I was elated that my little guy got a Hossa jersey for his birthday, to go with his Toews one jersey. Hossa is a player that you don't truly miss or appreciate until he's not here. We are all going to find that out in about four months.

The follow-up around the Assholenet was not unexpected, but stupid nonetheless. Most Blackhawks fans were sentimental and sad. Outside of the Hawks fan base, there were all kinds of conspiracy theorists crying foul. Accusations that the Blackhawks were circumventing the salary cap with Hossa's impending long term injured reserve status. This is a fair point on the surface, until you actually break it down. Hossa is coming off a resurgence where he scored 26 goals, which goes to show that he is still a very effective player in this league. He is a perfect mentor to the new generation of players coming up. He is a great ambassador of the game and franchise. His cap hit is manageable based on his production. More importantly, he will only cost the Blackhawks $1 million in actual dollars for the next four seasons. Finally, the Blackhawks are just a worse team without him. The LTIR is the only advantage, but is that $5 million overage allowance worth losing a player the quality and stature of Marian Hossa?

Unequivocally NO!

If I'm Stan Bowman, I want Hossa to stick it out for another season or two, to usher in the next generation. There will be enough turnover and turmoil this summer on the Blackhawks roster. Another loss, especially of this magnitude, is terribly painful.

That won't stop the snarky Twitter WebMD experts and NHL conspiracy theorists, though.

The part of this story that a lot of people don't quite understand is that Marian Hossa is not recovering and coming back. He is done playing hockey! This is an unofficial retirement from the NHL. The only reason he won't officially retire is that the Blackhawks cap recapture penalties (roughly $4 million a season) would be crippling. Folks, this is not a "take one season off" thing. We have seen Marian Hossa play his last hockey game. These same sources that had this information also unanimously called it a retirement. When Jay Zawaski flat out asked his "guy" if there was a chance Hossa would return, this is the response he got:

This is from a source close to the team and Hossa. Believe it, people. The Marian Hossa era is over.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blackhawks Sign Czech Defenseman
More Moves to Come

by Gatekeeper

The Blackhawks announced early yesterday morning that they had signed 6'3" 200 lb Czech defenseman Jan Rutta, which had be speculated by John Jaeckel as far back as May 19th. Financial terms to the deal have not yet been announced.

It appears as though this signing finally signals the exit of noted lightning rod Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Blackhawks. I want to, again, clarify what I have said all along about van Riemsdyk. He's a fine 5-6 defenseman and could even fill in elsewhere, in a pinch. My contention has always been that Joel Quenneville miscast him and set him up to fail, thus making him look a lot worse to the naked eye. In no scenario should Trevor van Riemsdyk have been in the Blackhawks top 4.

I digress, though; van Riemsdyk looks to be headed to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, which should be a great opportunity for him. If reports are true, the Golden Knights will acquire Marcus Kruger in a trade with the understanding that the Blackhawks will expose van Riemsdyk for the Golden Knights to select in the expansion draft. These moves will save the Blackhawks just under $4 million in cap room, which will still leave them roughly $500K over last year's threshold, not including Rutta's contract.

As far as Rutta goes, the contract is an entry level contract but, since he's 26 the deal can only be for one year and cannot exceed $925,000. Even though the terms have not been announced, but I would expect them to be in the area of Michal Kempny's incentive laden $700,000 last season.

Rutta is actually a bigger, slightly older and hopefully better version of van Riemsdyk and retains something that the Blackhawks have coveted for quite a while, which is that he is a right handed shooter. They currently only have Brent Seabrook, the corpse of Michal Rozsival, and van Riemsdyk as righties with any kind of NHL experience. Pending UFA Ville Pokka, Robin Press, and Jake Ryczek are the only right handed defenseman in the entire system, so if the Blackhawks are going to sign some more, I'd bet on some more right handers.

In other news, There have been no official announcements on the team site, yet, but several outlets have reported that the Blackhawks have also hired former NHL defenseman and AHL Charlotte Checkers coach Ulf Samuelsson to fill Mike Kitchen's vacant spot on the coaching staff. Brian Hedger also tweeted that the Blackhawks are in the process of hiring Wisconsin associate coach Don Granato for an organizational position, as well.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast
Episode 83

The team is back in 83rd Puckin Hostile Shoutcast (the Vernon Fiddler episode) Gatekeeper, Fatrick, Bryan, and Norton. The dream team comes back from their month long hiatus on this Slayer day (6/6) firing and slinging insults.

The topics discussed include:
-We're back from the old tired graveyard like a fax machine or a 56K modem
-Gate is back from Cancun, and another great In Flames show
-Fatrick is back from his catfishing expedition
-Norton's mouth is running like his hair is on fire
-TOOL is #BetterThatPearlJam
-ESPN Dumps almost their entire hockey department
-Sweden wins the IIHF World Championships
-Screw Ilya Kovalchuk right in the butt
-Rockford gets a new head coach
-Blackhawks trade Scott Darling away
-Blackhawks sign David "Mein" Kampf
-Blackhawks targeting other FA college and European players
-Deal and expansion draft speculation
-Listener/Reader questions
-And of course, as always, an abundance of extremely inappropriate references, jag-douchery, and jokes in incredibly bad taste

You can find the episode on iTunes by following this link: iTunes

Get the Shoutcast directly though Soundcloud here:

For all your custom jersey needs visit Black and Tan Sports at:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Report from Hostile Headquarters

by Gatekeeper

Greetings, Hostile faithful.

I just wanted to raise from the (almost) dead and give everyone an update on the site, podcast, and such.

After our (too short) May hiatus, we're coming back to you this next Tuesday night with Shoutcast episode 83. Please send your questions in to @HawksShoutcast on the Twitterz or PuckinHostile at Gmail. The more the better, because there isn't anything going on in Blackhawks land at the moment. We plan on dragging you all through the summer kicking and screaming with all the usual nonsense and ass-hattery, but we also want to hear from you. If you have a segment idea, let us know. I'd like to do some new things this summer. Do you want to hear more of something? Less of something? Would you like us to reach out to a particular guest? Let us know. We are not above anything, in fact, we are probably beneath just about everyone and everything.

I'd like to take advantage of the time, this summer, to possibly try and do a remote podcast somewhere with the local Hostile members. We could invite some of the listeners to sit down, chat, and talk Blackhawks. I really think it would be a fun way to meet some of you and put some voices/faces with the names. Mullets Sportsbar in Homer Glen is usually our default spot, but I'm really open to anything reasonable and central. Again, offer your input, because we are absolute dullards.

For the NHL entry draft, here in Chicago, Fatrick and I will be there for the first night. We might even get the big guy out for day two, but don't hold your breath. We can't afford to lose the readership/listenership. I will hopefully be there for both days, and all 7 rounds. If you're going to be there, let me know. I'd love to shake the hands of our "fives of fans", and personally thank you for your loyalty.

We will, of course, also be covering all the usual summer Hawks events like the expansion draft, free agency and prospect camp, as per usual. I plan on getting out to personally see the baby Hawks at prospect camp for at least a couple of days.

Finally, I have been bringing this up on the past few Shoutcasts, but we could really use some help with recaps this next season. Ken Kallembach has offered to jump in and take some, but we can never have enough good people helping out. Even five games taken off our schedules helps.

Thanks again for your support. If you could do one thing for us, please spread the word. Our traffic and downloads have been growing by leaps and bounds, and it's all because of your continued support. Please, share our site and podcast with your friends and family. Even torture your enemies with Fatrick's inappropriate jokes, or Norton's conversations with his parents.

That said, We will be in your ears, offending your brain again next Wednesday.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Darnit, The NHL Needz Moar Goalz
Kill Da Goaleez

by Gatekeeper

The entire reason I started this website was to keep track and publish my idiotic rants. Over the last 7 years this as morphed into more of a reporting and news site, but occasionally there are hockey related issues that just grind my fucking gears. Buckle up, Hostile fans, because today is one of those particular days. You can thanks apparent idiot Mark Spector of Sportsnet and his stupid tweet:

Now, by this point in time, most of you know that I have dressed up as (and attempted to play) goalie for roughly 30 years. Sure, yes, I'm just a short, old, bald beer league goalie and probably a bad-to-mediocre one, at that. I have, though, seen a shot or two in my day (most of them whizzing by me into the net).

Today, folks, was my tipping point. I have watched media falsely blame goalies for this fake "goal problem" the NHL has claimed. The league and the media have demonized goalies for adapting and developing from pudgy outcasts who couldn't skate, into real actual athletes for long enough. All the while, coaches have created defensive systems to choke the game (and fans) to sleep. Seriously, Watch a goalie from 1985 move out on the ice and then watch one of them move now. It's almost a different sport altogether. The position is certainly completely different, outside of the name. Thanks to goaltending coaches and youth programs that cater specifically to the position, goalies have just caught up to the rest of the players. No longer are the goalies just the fat kids that can't skate who get cast off by the coaches as weird little, barely useful, freaks. Goalies today can skate well, they are certainly the most flexible players on the ice, and have virtually perfected actual styles/methods. Goalies before 1995 had a style called "Just get in front of the puck". Very little of this development has to do with the actual equipment, but lets go over this:

-The gloves and blockers are probably slightly bigger than the ones used in 1985, but the flex on the lighter composite sticks also allow players to shoot much faster and harder than what is natural. An inch here or there won't add more than a couple goals a year, if that. The gloves are built better and actually flex much better than old gear.
-The chest and arm pads might be able to use some tweaking on the design but, again, you're not going to change any underlying goal numbers by tweaking the shoulder protection. Once again, players shoot harder and faster than they ever have. If you reduce the padding, you'll have many more goalie injuries.
-The legs pads are certainly taller, but when you really break them down, they aren't considerably wider. They just hold their form longer, which makes them seem wider. So, great, cut the height down. They addressed the width years ago. It's not going to matter. Nothing changed.
-The masks are actually more form fitting than a big thick helmet, thus streamlined.
-The skates are MUCH smaller than the old bozo cowling style skates and, again, streamlined. This hasn't miraculously resulted in any more goals, though.
-The pants are pants. The league made them tighter and it changed nothing as far as goals per game.
-The sticks are basically the same size they have always been. Goalies have just learned how to use them more effectively.

The bottom line is that goalies are just bigger, faster, more flexible, stronger and more well versed in the method of their craft. If they change any of the padding, you won't see a god damn difference whatsoever. There is nothing you can do, outside of eliminating the position altogether and just skating six players, that will give you goal production like the late 80s and early 90s. The game is completely different. Coaches are adding complex systems to choke the speed down, while sucking any creativity whatsoever out of players.

Think I'm full of it?

In Chicago alone, and outside of the few upper echelon players, when was the last time you saw a 3rd line forward NOT benched for trying, and failing, with some kind of unique or creative move? Never. If they pull it off, the coach whispers, "nice play, but don't ever pull that shit again". If they fail, which happens more often that not, they get stapled to the bench. There is no room for creativity in this old boys network NHL.

Just look at the PK Subban saga, for example. Guy is creative, charismatic, and super talented. In every other sport, teams would be begging for a player like that. Instead, he was run out of Montreal for an older, safe, vanilla guy. NHL "experts" like asshole Mike Milbury are calling him a clown for showing some personality; IN WARMUPS! The guy that climbed into the crowd and beat a fan with his own shoe. Seriously? Fuck this league. Fuck the media. And, fuck the "experts". Grow up or you're going to kill this league.

So, back to my original point. Mark Spector want to chop goalie sticks off, so that they no longer extend out past the blocker. He wants to turn goalie sticks into blunt machetes, with the equivalent hockey effectiveness of a whiffle ball bat.

No more poke checking.
No more playing the puck.
No more playing the paddle down in a scrum or to stop wrap-a-rounds.

Because Alex Ovechkin hit the shaft of a goalie stick in the playoffs, once. You know what this "solution" also gives goalies? A much more manageable weapon to swing at other players, while trying to protect themselves.

You think I'm full of shit?

Try swinging a fairly dense five and half foot stick with one hand at someone. It's not easy. It takes room, a decent wind-up, and possibly two hands to even get the thing around. Still not buying my theory? Take a goalie stick, or even just a five and half foot stick, to a batting cage and try to hit baseballs with it. Good luck!

Now, cut that stick in half and swing it at a baseball, golf ball or anything, for that matter. Much easier. It's now a legitimate weapon, intended or not. If I'm getting hacked, whacked and run over all game, you bet your ass that my natural reaction will be to protect myself with what I have available. If it means sticking my blocker hand up in someone's face to keep them from injuring me, so be it. Hell, I used to carry a 2 foot section of a hockey stick under my car seat, just in case I needed to defend myself. They make players drop broken sticks on the ice for a reason. That's because it's easier to use as a weapon or projectile. Safety, right?

Unless you're a goalie.

I'm not even going to get into the entire physics of a full length goalie stick, but making a simple save of a puck coming in at even 70MPH, with half a stick, would become much, much harder because there is less actual material to absorb the impact.

You know what this stupid league needs?