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Friday, December 21, 2012

Children of Boredom

Ten Lesser Known Blackhawks of the 80s & 90s

Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, this is what the the Blackhawks blogsphere has been relegated to. Writing about barely significant Blackhawks of my childhood. Thanks, Fucktards.

AnyWHO, Considering I am almost a generation older than most of the current Blackhawks fans, I've seen some things. Excluding the early 90's and 2010, most of those things regarding the Blackhawks have been downright awful. So much so, that sometime around 2001, I stopped giving a fat rat's ass about the organization altogether. Some of that had to do with one person in particular, William W. Wirtz, and the rest had to do with the fact that they were just a complete joke of a franchise. I didn't have the time to devote to a franchise that didn't even respect for itself. They KNEW that Wirtz had run them into the ground, and could do nothing about it.

But I digress; I'm not here to go into a homicidal rage about Dollar Bill's rotting, worm infested, pickled carcass.

This is a fun little exercise to jog some of your minds, and introduce others to some of my personal favorites from the 80s and 90s.

Bob Sauve

This one is a given. I wrote about it on Second City Hockey, and reposted it here. Just click the link to see the story, because I hate repeating myself; unless it is about how right I am.
My First Blackhawks Hero - Bob Sauve

Rick Vaive

Sam Fels of The Committed Indian wrote a great piece on Vaive, back when they were still Second City Hockey, and I too was a big fan. He reminded me of RoboCop because of the amount of equipment he wore. He was a big body, with some silky mitts, that would park himself in front of the net and take massive amounts of abuse. He came with three 50 goal seasons already under his belt in Toronto.

When I say big body, I don't mean by today's standards. Six foot and 180 lbs isn't big at all, in today's NHL, but in 1987 that was large. He only played a season and a half for the Hawks, but he netted 61 goals in 111 games, including 49 total goals in his only full season with the organization.

He came to the Hawks, with Steve Thomas (featured later in this piece) and cementhead extraordinaire Bob McGill, in a trade for Al Secord and Eddie Olczyk. Some pretty notable names of the time.

Rob Brown

We now turn our attention to one of the most recent infamous Blackhawks, Rob Brown. Most of you have probably ready the Blog of Sean McIndoe, better known as DownGoesBrown on twitter. Well, that moniker refers specifically to an incident that happened to Brown while playing for the Hawks. Take a gander for yourself:

And here Brown himself discusses the fight.

Shenanigans aside, I was a closet Brown fan. First of all, who doesn't love a player wearing the number 44 (I know he briefly wore 22, also)? Second, He came to Chicago with a great deal of scoring potential. Brown was also one of the few players to play for both the Blackhawks and Wolves. Brownie was one of those players that would put up Gretzky like cartoonish numbers in the minors, but never really consistently reached those levels in the NHL. If you look at his stats, these point totals smack you in the face: 259, 212, 173, 155, 143, 117, 115, 115, and 107. The problem was that, save for the 115 points in Pittsburgh in 88-89, all of those seasons were in the minors. He still had himself a nice NHL career with 438 points, but one could argue that his true potential was never fully realized. He only managed to play 40 games in a Blackhawks uniform, but as you witnessed above, he made them count.

Gary Nylund

Nylund is probably more famous for his signing as a restricted free agent with the Hawks or for being a less than stellar third overall pick (Hello Cam Barker!), but number 22 had a run with the Hawks organization for 2 1/2 seasons in the late 80's. Another cementhead defenseman, Nylund was generally better with his gloves off and hams up. His best NHL season was, in fact, with the Hawks as he racked up 27 points in the 86-87 season.

As compensation for signing with the Hawks, Toronto received Jerome Dupont, Ken Yaremchuk and a fourth-round pick in '87 (Joe Sacco). Originally, they had asked for Eddie Olczyk, whom they eventually acquired in the Rick Vaive trade.

Here is a video of of Nylund eating Bob Probert's fist, with cameos from the previously mentioned Bob Sauve and everybody's favorite color man, Eddie Olczyk.

Stu Grimson

One of the more infamous names of Blackhawks lore, his name fit the role he played. He was John Scott before there was John Scott.

I have to take that back and apologize to Stu Grimson, because nobody could possibly be that fucking terrible. Please, don't punch my face, Stu.

At 6'6" and 240 lbs, he was considerably bigger than a majority of the players of the day, and used that size to his advantage. He made a living doing one thing, pounding faces, and he did that very well. The chants of "Stuuuuuu!" still rattle around in my head from time to time. There really isn't much more I can say, that these videos don't already showcase, so enjoy:

Keith Carney

Keith Carney is one of the less clownish players on my list. He had himself a nice career as a second tier NHL defenseman. Nothing Carney did was all-star worthy, but what led him to play over 1000 NHL games was that he was consistently consistant. Regularly a "plus"player, he was a top notch shut down defender with very good skating skills. After his time with the Hawks, he played in the '98 Olympic games. I would compare him to a less physical Brent Seabrook. With Chelios and Suter logging the top minutes, Carney was an excellent compliment to that first line duo. He played five seasons with the Hawks and was traded to Phoenix for slugs Chad Kilger and Jayson More. Brilliant move.

More recently Carney has been back with the Hawks organization as a skating instructor and player development coach. Judging by his appearance at the Hawks prospect camp he looks like he could step back out on the ice and contribute, today.

James Black
James Black had the unfortunate luck of coming to the Hawks at the beginning of the lean years, after Roenick and Belfour were cast off. He was first brought up in the 95/96 season after an impressive 80 plus point season in Indianapolis and was traded to Washington for a draft pick after only 47 points in parts of 3 seasons in Chicago. Black was probably best known for his booming slapshot, his husky build, and his long bushy hair which made me take notice. As with thousands of players, his game never really translated to the NHL ice. After a couple of seasons with Washington, he retired.

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas was probably my second favorite Blackhawks player at the time. He came over with Vaive, from Toronto and played parts of 5 injury plagued seasons on West Madison. The 40 goals he scored in 89/90 made for the second best goal output of his career. Another winger with a booming slapshot, obviously his game was better suited for the NHL. When he was traded to the Islanders, the return was Brent Sutter, who was instrumental as a shutdown center for the 1991 cup run.

Thomas appeared with then Leafs prospect Peter Zezel in the movie Youngblood as Hamilton Mustangs teammates.

Reto Von Arx

This one is sort of a throw away that I added to the list because of his bad ass name. Von Arx is currently playing in Switzerland along with his brother Jan, after only 19 games and 3 NHL points, all with the Blackhawks. Too bad his talent didn't match up with the hype.

Von Arx never scored more than 21 goals at any level, so it looks as though he was a throw away 9th round pick. Then again, aren't most 9th round picks?

Ray LeBlanc
Last, but not least, is America's last amateur Olympic goaltending hero, Ray Leblanc. Leblanc backstopped the last successful truly amateur US Olympic team to a 4-0-1 prelim record in 1992, before losing to the Soviet Unified team in the semis and the Czech team in the bronze medal game. All the hype surrounding Leblanc's effort and the impending expansion draft led the Blackhawks to a very peculiar position. They had to expose one goaltender to the draft, and didn't want to expose Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek or Jimmy Waite. They activated Leblanc for his only NHL appearance against the San Jose Sharks, where he gained a 5-1, thus making him eligible for the draft. He wasn't selected.

Nonetheless, LeBlanc appeared in all eight Olympic games for the United States, compiling a record of 5–2–1 with two shutouts, gaining brief fame, and later playing for the upstart Chicago Wolves.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

HockeeNight meets Puckin Hostile Puckcast

The Cheat Sheet for the Puckcast

Last night the fine gentlemen at HockeeNight.com asked to be a guest on their weekly puckcast. Since I'm an avid listener of their program, I had to oblige. Thanks to this glorious lockout, we didn't have a great deal of hockey to talk about. Luckily, being the talkers we are, we filled the time admirably.

I would like to graciously thank Forklift and CT for inviting me, and I hope I can join them again sometime, when there is actual Blackhawks hockey to discuss.

Until then, there are a few handy links and tools for you:

Click here to go to the post on the HockeeNight.com website

Here is the direct link to the player with the episode:

Click here for the direct MP3 download link


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rockford IceHogs at Chicago Wolves - Win Recap

"Can I Play with Madness"

Every time I write one of these Ice Hogs recaps, I think to myself, "Self? I hope I'm far too busy writing Blackhawks recaps the next time a Hogs/Wolves game rolls around to be able to partake". Of course each time, I've been wrong. I have got nothing against the AHL, the Rockford Ice Hogs, or the Chicago Wolves (well, unless you factor in that they are the baby Canucks), but recapping games that feature sand bagging baby Blackhawks in small arenas, in STANDARD DEFINITION are not what I signed up for. I'm a snob and I make no bones about it. I want NHL hockey in High Definition. That is just how I roll, ladies and gents. Of course I'm interested in what happens in Rockford with the prospects, but Chris Block does a much beter job than I, at covering the Hogs. Thanks to the colossal failure that all NHL fans are in the middle of, I'm stuck keeping myself busy by recapping late November minor league hockey. Look at me go!

The Ice Hogs didn't start out so hot, to say the least. They gave up a terrible goal just over a minute into the game, which put them in a rough situation. They seemed to bounce back fairly well, and went into the intermission down only one. That is about the best they could have hoped for, especially outshooting the home team 15-11. The Wolves rebounded in the second, outshooting the Hogs 18-10, but the teams tied the period with a goal each way and the Wolves had a chance to bury them, but the fortunes turned. The third period was all Hogs, with some help from flurry of stupid Wolves penalties. Rockford pulled off a comeback and left with a huge win.

The Good
  • After a rough first two minutes, the Hogs ended up peppering Matt Climie with 15 first period shots. At least the boneheaded play didn't get them down.
  • The Hogs cut the Wolves lead on a late second period 3-on-2. Brandon Saad hit the third man in, St. Pierre, who was left with a gaping net and didn't miss.
  • Jeremy Morin and the Hogs took advantage of a powerplay and some lively board, to tie the game up five minutes into the third period. A wide shot by Clendening ricocheted right back out in front of the net. Saad fought to get possession and blindly shoveled it in front to an open Morin, who chipped it past Climie on the short side.
  • Ben Smith redirected a Brett Lebda slapshot just a couple of minutes after the game tying goal, to give the Hogs their first lead of the game. A pretty simple play, as Smith was left wide open. I'm not sure I agree with the Wolves approach on that defensive strategy, but the Hogs will take it.
  • Shaw closed out the Wolves night by picking off a blue line pass attempt and getting the empty netter to give the Ice Hogs a 4-2 win. Looks like his time off due to suspension has paid off. He was a plus 1, with a goal, 2 PIMS, and a team leading 6 shots on net.
  • Brandon Saad continued his improved play with 2 points, and a plus one on the night.
The Bad
  • Jeremy Morin looks to be getting a little full of himself. He tried to stickhandle through about 3 Wolves defenders as his teammates went for a change. Of course, he turned it over at the Hogs blue line and it ended up a quality Wolves scoring chance. Just plain stupid.
  • Andrew Shaw led a 3-on-1 just over halfway through the first period, which was turned into a 1-on-1 when Kevin Connauton cut off the passing lanes and the Hogs forwards felt it was best to hold hands and hug, rather than spread the ice. Shaw was left with only one choice; shoot. Climie nicely beat him with the glove.
  • A late second period Paradis boarding penalty ended up leading to a Jordan Schroeder Wolves powerplay goal, when Shaw, Leblanc and Lalonde got happy pants and tried to run a shorthanded odd man break. The Wolves took advantage of a covering forward and Leblanc was caught out of position. Schroeder was left all alone on the back door and Hutton had no chance. It was scored just after the penalty expired, but it was virtually a powerplay goal.
  • The Hogs blew a huge 5-on-3 powerplay at te end of the second and into the third period. I probably counted 4 shots the entire advantage, which is completely unacceptable. Baby Blackhawks they are.
The Ugly
  • Not much more than a minute into the game and the Hogs are picking the puck out of their own net. Clendening and Saad treated the puck like a rotten egg, and it squirted off a board scrum and into the middle of the Hogs slot, where Zack Kassian was standing by himself. Stop me if you know how this one ends. 1-0 Wolves.
  • It's pretty clear that Carter Hutton is pretty fucking bad at handling the puck. The first period was a Shanghai Shitfest, when it comes to the Hogs defensive puckhandling, Hutton included. His stickhandling prowess did't get any better as the game went on.
  • Kyle Beach took the worst of a scuffle with Zack Kassian, when he voluntarily put himself into a headlock. Really, enough with the theatrics, gents.
  • Sam Fels and Chris Block weren't lying when they brought up the parade of penalties that the Hogs take. They continuously shoot themselves in the foot with needless infractions. Believe it or not, as bad as the Hogs were, the Wolves were even worse.
Here are the lines for the IceHogs, last night:

Kyle Beach-Brandon Pirri-Andrew Shaw
Ben Smith-Jimmy Hayes-Leblanc
Jeremy Morin-Martin St.Pierre-Brandon Saad
Philippe Paradis-Rob Flick-Brandon Bollig
Klas Dahlbeck-Ryan Stanton
Adam Clendening-Nick Leddy
Brett Lebda-Shawn Lalonde

Here are the video highlights:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rockford IceHogs vs. Chicago Wolves - Loss Recap

"Makin Bacon"

On the same day the NHL announced the cancelation of the the Winter Classic, the Ice Hogs hosted the Chicago Wolves, which meant Chicago area fans were able to take advantage and see some of the baby Hawks play on TV. Good for us, but bad for the Hogs.

The Ice Hogs showed they truly are the baby Blackhawks, by starting off VERY slow. Evn though they outshot the Wolves 15-10, they were down 2-1 going into the first intermission after some very lackadaisical defense. The second period was just more of the same for the Hogs. Three goals on a total of 10 shots still left the Hogs down by 2 goals with 20 minutes to go in the game. There was no big third period comeback in their one. Even though they were able to put 11 shots on net, the Hogs were outscored 2-1 for a third straight period, and sent the Wolves away with a 6-3 win.

The Good
  • I know there were issues with Bill Sweatt and the Hawks organization, but damn it would be nice to have him wearing a Hogs Jersey. The guy is SO fast that he looks like Stalberg. He turned Brett Lebda around like a top, late in the first.
  • Just when you think Kyle Beach was a useless sack of skin and bones, he snaps off a laser of a wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1. Flick picked up the faceoff and chipped it over to Paradis. Paradis dropped it back to Beach, who was camping out high in the slot. Beach didn't exactly break and speed records getting the shot off, but he beat Lack to the stick side with an accurate shot. It's about time Beach did something constructive.
  • The powerplay unit of Kruger, St. Pierre, Smith, Lavin and Pirri brought the Hogs back within two goals, late in the second period. Lucky Pierre and Smith worked a little game of catch until Kruger was able to create a little room for himself. St. Pierre hit Kruger for a one timer that was blocked by Smith, but the puck squirted out to Pirri. Pirri just turned and fired it into the net past Lack.
  • Somehow the Hogs centers dominated in faceoffs. I say somehow because they have been so bad lately that Chris Block has reported that Kruger, and Pirri weren't even lining up for their own faceoffs.
  • Kyle Beach snapped off another wrist shot that found it's way through Lack for his second goal of the night, with 4 minutes to go in the game. The goal brought the Hogs within 2 goals, but that's all they could muster up.
The Bad
  • A Joe Lavin miscue a the Wolves blue line led to a couple of great Wolves chances and eventually the puck in the back of the Wolves net. Lavin tried to make a rush all by himself, had his chip pass blocked, and then dropped his stick. From then on out it was time for the Shanghai Scramble. Eventually, a pass was slickly slid under Lavin and to a streaking Andrew Gordon, who beat Hutton for a 1-0 Wolves lead.
  • Lavin's bad first period didn't stop with the goal. He was repeatedly caught out of position and gave the Wolves scoring chances.
  • Jeremy Morin really has some snarl to his game. He took quite a few exceptions to some chippiness, which will land him in te ox more than Quenneville would like
  • The Hogs powerplay breakout looks exactly like the anemic Hawks powerplay. Four players skate to the blur line and drop it to the trailer, who then has to try and maneuver through 8 players. It doesn't take a scientist to put the brakes on that one.
  • Beach's hug-a-thon with Kevin Connauton was a snorefest. Probably the easiest 5 minutes either of those guys ever earned.
  • Two goals on 4 shots in the second frame was just unacceptable.
  • The Hogs got caught about halfway through the third with a forward (Pirri) covering on defense, and the Wolves took full advantage. Chris Tanev was the lucky recipient of what turned out to be a 2-on-0, and Richard had no chance.
  • Hawks for a second Andrew Ebbet was left completely uncovered with just over 2 minutes to go in the game, and he put the little piggies to bed.
The Ugly
  • Brett Sterling raced up the middle of the ice on a late first period powerplay and through 4 Hogs players. When all was said and done the Hogs were all staring each other in the face with mouths agape. Sidney Crosby shouldn't walk through 4 players, much less Brett Fucking Sterling. Of course Joe Lavin was the last player to get his hands on Sterling before the puck went in the net. Brutal.
  • The Wolves Jordan Schroeder and Tim Miller completely clowned the Hogs shorthanded unit, that was killing a Bollig delay of game penalty early in the second. Miller squirted past Clendening who completely whiffed on a half ass hit attempt, and then slid a pass through Olsens legs to a wide open Schroeder. Schroeder was able to snap of a shot and beat Hutton stick side for a 3-1 Wolves lead.
  • Another stupid Brandon Bollig penalty led to a Wolves powerplay and eventually a Bill Sweatt powerplay goal. Peter Andersson was left wide open in the slot, and Jordan Schroeder hit him on the tape with a nice pass. Andersson's shot was stopped by Hutton, but Lavin couldn't tie up Sweatt, who just swept it in the net. That was the end of the nights action for poor Carter Hutton. In came the next sacrificial lamb, Alec Richard.
  • The needless penalties are just mind numbing with this team.
  • The Hogs goalies were not on their game for this tilt. Six goals on 25 shots won't get you a win in many leagues.
Here are the lines for the IceHogs, last night:

Ben Smith-Brandon Pirri-Jeremy Morin
Brandon Bollig-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw
Peter Leblanc-Martin St.Pierre-Jimmy Hayes
Philippe Paradis-Rob Flick-Kyle Beach
Klas Dahlbeck-Ryan Stanton
Adam Clendening-Dylan Olsen
Brett Lebda-Joe Lavin

And yes, we even have some video highlights for you:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

News Flash - Fans DO Miss Hockey
Champs for Charity a Huge Success

Last night some former and current Blackhawks played a charity game against some other NHLers for the Ronald McDonald house, at the All State Arena in Rosemont. Anyone showing up to this event thinking it was going to be anything other than a lighthearted schmoozefest, well, the joke is on them.

There were "missed" calls, all penalties were penalty shots, there was a mob style mugging of Dan Carcillo, and there was a goalie on goalie penalty shot. This was a CHARITY game with a bunch of highly paid, when they are actually playing, professional players. No one was going to risk serious injury for a charity game. The players yucked it up for the crowd and took a primary role as "entertainers", rather than "cattle", and the overall theme was laughs and tom foolery.

With an announced crown of just under 12,000 people, and over $323,000 raised, it's safe to say that people in Chicago miss their hockey, or at least their Blackhawks.

Blackhawks Star Patrick Kane did exactly what you would expect him to do, by scoring 5 goals and winning the MVP trophy, just in time to head over to Switzerland with mom.

Here is the recap of my live tweeting:

-Kaner comes out to cheers and a standing ovation
-Joe Corvo (Boston, but playing for his hometown Hawks) rocking the killer Mohawk
-Mike Brown (Toronto) is rocking an EPIC lockout beard.
-Wizzzer (Columbus) with an Atrocious turnover and the hawks team down 0-2
-Jared Boll (LA Kings) for a 3-0 World team . Ouchie
-Kaner give the Hawks team life. 3-1 world
-Tazer breakaway goal on a "missed" offsides for the hawks second goal.
-Ladd (Winnipeg) brings out the dagger for 3-3 tie
-Craig Adams (Pittsburgh) on the penalty shot for a 4-3 hawks lead
-Jordan Staal (Carolina) ties it back up at 4s
-Kaner puts the hawks back ahead with under a minute left in the 1st.
-Ladder (Winnipeg) scores again to incite the canoe celebration and the daggar again.
-Sharpie scores for a 7-4 hawks lead.
-Lockout beard (Mike Smith of Toronto) scores to cut the lead to 7-5.
-Anderson (Ottawa) turns puck over to leino (Buffalo) for a world goal.
-Goligoski (Dallas) ties the game up at 7-7.
-Burish (San Jose) does a ned braden striptease after putting the hawks up 8-7.
-Timonen (Philly) ties it up again After a huge Anderson save.
-Tazer with goal 9 for hawks.
-Correction sharpie with 9 followed by kaners hat trick goal.
-Corvo (Boston) on the delayed penalty. 11-8 hawks
-Bobby ryan (Anaheim) scores the 9th world goal.
-Staal (Carolina) with #10 for the world.
-World ties it up 11-11 By Brookbank (Hawks but playing for the World).
-Ladder (Winneipeg) hat trick puts the hawks back up 12-11.
-Penalty shot goal for Jake the Snake Dowell (Minnesota) for a 13-11 Hawks lead.
-Detroit sucks chants loooouuuuud and clear. (TRUTH!!!)
-Carbomb (Hawks but playing for the World) pulled onto Hawks bench to fight Ryan Dempster, Wizzer, and Burish
-Thornton (Boston) goal to bring the world back within 1. 13-12.
-Backstrom (Minny) scores on the first goalie on goalie penalty shot. 13-13. Sandstorm ensues
-Miettinen (Winnipeg) pits the world up 14-13.
-Wizzer turnover = carbomb goal. 15-13 world.
-Kaner goal brings the hawks back within 1. Gould throws the challenge flag and loses.
-Kaner ties it up with the goalie pulled and 1:42 left. Crowd on their feet.
-After watching Wizzer play this game Scott Howson just shot himself. Shootout time.
-Tazer hits crossbar.
-Bobby Ryan scores
-Shooter evens it up
-Staal stopped by anderson
-Kaner scores to put hawks up.
-Leino stopped by anderson
-Ladder Stopped
-Timonen beats anderson to tie it up
-Brouwser no goal.
-Carbomb Scores to win the game on the kaner stop n go
-Kaner wins MVP
-$323,500 raised for Champs For Charity

Some videos for you to enjoy:


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Several Cup Winning Blackhawks to Return for "Champs for Charity" Game

"We're Getting the Band Back Together!"

Former Blackhawks fan favorite Adam Burish headed up a news conference, yesterday, and announced the plans for a Champs for Charity game at the All State Arean on October 26th. Joining Burish on the ice for the game will be several former and current Blackhawks from the 2010 cup winning team. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster.com. The intention is for the game to raise hope to raise $250,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana.

Joining Burish on the ice will be Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Jake Dowell, James Wisniewski, John Madden, Troy Brouwer and Kris Versteeg. Other NHL players that are set to join the former champs are Bobby Ryan, Ryan Suter, Jack Johnson, Ville Leino, Mike Brown, Antti Miettinen, Jared Boll, Tom Gilbert, Alex Goligoski, Al Montoya, and Kimmo Timonen. Rumors are also being thrown around suggesting that Sidney Crosby will be on the ice, as well.

As far as tickets, there are 100 VIP tickets for $500 and include glass seats, an event jersey, and a pre-game meet-and-greet with the players from 6 to 6:45 p.m.. There are also $60, $30, $15 and $10 tickets available.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Rockford IceHogs at Chicago Wolves - Loss Recap


Well, here we sit, on October 15th, and the only hockey we can manage to watch is the joke that is the KHL through some kind of ESPN pirate feed, or the AHL. Lets be honest, neither is the quality we are accustomed to, but it will have to do, given the circumstances. Mind you, the fans aren't even offered the AHL team most Hawks fans WANT to watch; unless the Wolves are facing the IceHogs. This madness is all we have, while the NHL and NHLPA continue to measure each others dongs and argue about the length and girth differences. It's getting old REALLY fast, assclowns.

We were given a morsel of Blackhawks hockey on Saturday, as the Wolves beat the Hogs 1-0 in a shootout, and Sunday was game 2 of the opening AHL weekend. No one expected a double shutout and a shootout on the opening night of the season for these two clubs, but that's what they got. The supposed firepower that the Blackhawks left the Hogs with was rumored to provide some serious goal scoring, but that was nowhere to be found against Eddie Lack and the Wolves Saturday night. We were all hoping for something a little more "scorish", for this contest. See? This recap thing is like riding a bike. Right back on for another ride.

The first period opened like a thoroughbred race, going end to end and back, but slowed into a fairly boring period, as the period went on. The Wolves outshot the Hogs, 8-6 for the opening frame, scoring on one of those 8 shots. The Hogs came out in the second period, and looked more focussed, but a shorthanded goal took the wind out of their sails REAL fast. For the remainder of the period, the Wolves had a wild Hog hair up their ass and ended up going into the second intermission up 2-0. The Hogs pulled a page out of the Hawks book, dominating in shots, but tied in goals 3-3 for the period. That was all the Wolves needed to send the Hogs packing and winless for the season. Final Score, 5-3 Wolves.

The Good
  • Nothing against Jim Cornelison, but Wayne Mesmer will forever be my favorite anthem singer. Memories of the old Barn, and the '91 All-Star game.
  • It was really nice to not have to watch 100 of those insufferably brutal Binny's commercials.
  • Martin "Lucky" St.Pierre is a slick little player. This is the first I've seen of him, and he has some serious stick skills. From what I've heard, it's his off ice antics that kept him out of the NHL.
  • Dream Warrior, Lucky Pierre, and Scorin Morin hooked up for the first Hogs goal of the season, on the powerplay, if you can believe that. Not really much to it, really. Kruger lugged it around the net and dumped it off to St.Pierre, who took a second and fired it to a wide open Morin across the crease. Morin just jammed it past Lack to breaks HIS shutout streak.
  • Just a few minutes after the Morin goal, Marcus Kruger snapped a nice wrist shot past Lack on yet another powerplay.
  • Morin scored the third Hogs goal of the game on a very simple play. He skated up the middle and snapped a wrist shot that looked to be slightly redirected by a Wolves defender.
The Bad
  • Seeing people in Hawks color sweaters wearing the numbers 18, and 21 is really strange. Most people might not even notice it, but those numbers stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
  • The Wolves finally broke Hutton's scoreless streak about halfway through the first, as the Hogs had major trouble getting the puck out of the zone, and Former Hawk for a second Andrew Ebbett scored on what looked like a deflection from outside the left circle.
  • Couple of minutes into the second period, and the duo of Leddy and Stanton got caught up, and left the Wolves with a 3-on-1. Luckily, Patrick Mullin hit the post, with Stanton diving to try and poke the puck away. Some things never change, Leddy. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for Leddy in his own end. Hawks fans have seen THAT a time or two.
  • Brandon Saad had two GREAT chances in the middle of the second period and was robbed blind by Lack. The Canucks have to feel really good about their goaltending future with Corey Schneider and Lack in the system. Eddie Lack is a man among boys in the AHL.
  • The Wolves took a two goal lead back just after a bad Dylan Olsen penalty, in the third period. Longpre took a pass in the low slot and snapped it by Hutton. St.Pierre got caught reaching for Longpre and Olsen was late getting back into the play following his penalty.
  • Former Hawks draft pick Bill Sweatt put the final daggar in the Hogs, as he took a nice feed in the slot and snapped it past Hutton with about 3 minutes to go in regulation.
The Ugly
  • Not a minute into the game, and Joe Lavin got his dick absolutely knocked into the dirt by Steve Pinizzotto. Head up, kiddo.
  • Shawfacts was up to his usual shenanigans, spearing a Wolves player in the back of the knees after a whistle that negated an upcoming Hogs a powerplay, at the end of the first period. Quenneville would have sat his dumb ass for the next 3 weeks for that shit, minimum.
  • Nathan Longpre took advantage of Jeremy Morin playing the point on the Rockford powerplay, and ended up one-on-one with Hutton. Longpre did just what a sniper should do when he's in all alone, shorthanded no less. What is the fascination with this organization and forwards playing the point on the powerplay? 2-0 Wolves.
  • Just to prove that they are affiliated with the Hawks, the Hogs showed off their very own dogshit circus powerplay. They finally found their legs in the third period, but they ended up 2-13 for the weekend, with a shorthanded goal against. When you outshoot a team and have 7 powerplays, you should win.
  • Brandon Pirri pulled some shenanigans of his own, late in the second, elbowing the Wolves Kevin Connauton in the dome. This could very well lead to a suspension for targeting the head. Way to show off your poise and maturity.
  • Noted Canucks Dickbag Zack Kassian took exception to the Pirri elbow by throwing a flying shoulder to the head of Ryan Stanton. I guess the douchebaggery was being spread like a case of herpes on spring break, in Rosemont. Jimmy Hayes was kind enough to rush in and offer up his face as a fist magnet, while coming to Stanton's aid. Hayes earned himself a deuce of his very own for his troubles.
  • The third goal of the game was as ugly as they come. Ben Youds turned the puck over on the near boards, and Brett Sterling picked the puck up and threw a simple shot towards the net. Easy play unless Dylan Olsen kicks it into his own cage, which he did. Hutton got NO help from his defense in this affair.
Here are the lines for the IceHogs, last night:

Brandon Saad-Marcus Kruger-Jimmy Hayes
Peter Leblanc-Martin St.Pierre-Jeremy Morin
Ben Smith-Brandon Pirri-Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig-Rob Flick-Kyle Beach
Nick Leddy-Ryan Stanton
Ben Youds-Dylan Olsen
Brett Lebda-Joe Lavin

And yes, we even have some video highlights for you:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blackhawks Sign Defenseman Michal Rozsíval

Hello everyone, I'm Gatekeeper, but you can just call me Gate. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to have content to provide for this here blog. I figured that it had been such a long time, that a formal introduction was needed. The words "LOCK OUT" have pretty much scared everyone away from doing anything hockey related, which leaves fans and bloggers to go into hibernation. Kind of like the hibernation that Dustin Byfuglien was apparently preparing for, when he attended Dave Bolland's wedding, in July. But, I digress; I'm still here and I'm looking forward to Hockey, whenever that may be.

On to better topics, the Blackhawks surprised the hell out of their fanbase Tuesday afternoon by announcing that they had signed 34 year old defenseman, and former Phoenix Coyote, Michal Rozsíval to a 1-year $2 million contract. Rozsíval is a 6'2", 210 pound second tier defender, that has been called soft a time or two. He had a couple of 30-40 point seasons with the Rangers, but those days are clearly behind him. He's probably going to play third pair somewhere, here in Chicago.

What does this mean? The big thing that sticks out is that the Blackhawks now have NINE defensemen with NHL experience, fighting for 6 spots. Seven spots if you count that nightly healthy scratch. For my money, this has to signal the end of Niklas Hjalmarsson's time here in Chicago. They would have a hard time carrying 8 defensemen, much less 9. Unless the brass are completely disappointed in Dylan Olsen's progress, they aren't sending him to Rockford. By all accounts, they are, in fact, very pleased with his progression, so someone has to go. I would put my bet on Hammer, especially if there is a salary rollback in the new CBA. Here is some Michal Rozsival for you:

Jimmy Hayes railroads Rozsival

Rozsival might be a little more famous for this hit this last year


Friday, August 17, 2012

My First Blackhawks Hero: Bob Sauvé

This is an article I wrote for Second City Hockey, and figured I should post it here too.

In my nearly 40 years on this planet, more than 30 of them have been spent watching the Blackhawks and the NHL. That is a long time to be committed to anything, especially one that provides so much pain and heartache. Just ask anyone who has been married for that amount of time. Some would argue that I should be committed to an asylum, instead, but I digress. I found hockey, street hockey at the time, through neighborhood friends and fell in love instantly. For some unusual reason, at that period in my life, I was fascinated with any position that required the most equipment. I chose to volunteer to be a catcher, in baseball, even though I was far and away the fastest player on the team, and I had an obsession with goaltenders. My goaltender obsession clearly continues almost 3 decades later. That particular obsession is one that you might compare to a mental illness because it will never go away, and might very well require medication.

In addition to an unhealthy goalie obsession, I had that ever popular habit of pulling for the underdog; to a fault. It is hard to get your favorite player's jersey when he is playing for a different franchise every year. Some of my favorite players from my youth were Mike Vernon (then of the Calgary Flames), Don Baylor (of the Red Sox and a million other teams), Gerald Riggs (briefly of the Redskins), so on and so forth. It was cliché to follow the popular players, but I was never one to do something just simply because it was the popular trend. As a result, I was always tuned in to the little known Blackhawks backup goalies, no matter how insignificant they were. There were names like Warren Skorodenski with his great mask, Chris Clifford, Christian Soucy, Adam Munro, and even the Greatest American Hero, Ray Leblanc. I had an unhealthy knowledge of these players, most of which only played a handful of games.

Warren Skorodenski

These players, though, all came after my first Blackhawks hero, Robert F. Sauvé. I know, this revelation is really dating me. A majority of the Blackhawks, or even NHL, fanbase probably can't even recall the name, much less his very short Blackhawks career. First of all, he began his Blackhawks career as the backup behind Murray Bannerman, which caught my attention. Second, he wasn’t much to look at. Sauvé stood at a very generous listed height of 5’8", carried a robust playing weight of 175 lbs, and had a moustache that would make Tom Selleck jealous. He was the Blackhawks pre-Dirk Graham and pre-Michel Goulet equivalent of a Mario Bros long lost brother. Little did I know, at the time, that he was a former 1st round draft pick (1975), William Jennings (1985) and Vezina Trophy winner (1980). Maybe I just felt sorry for him because he had the dubious distinction of being traded away from the Buffalo Sabres TWICE to the Norris Division (Redwings in 1981 and later to the Hawks in 1985).


Despite all the legendary names of the time period, those Blackhawks teams were absolutely terrible, playing in front of the ageless and clearly witless bizarro Jacques Lemaire of his time, Bob Pulford. While my brother and my friends were all following players like Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, Al Secord and Doug Wilson, I was paying close attention to the dynamic duo of Sauvé and his boy wonder Bannerman. Sauvé was brought in to provide some solid relief for Bannerman, but neither really stood a chance. Honestly, I can’t recall any specific plays that Sauvé made during his Blackhawks tenure, but I know I was quite possibly his one and only fan.

One might venture to call Sauvé the Ray Emery of his time, or call Emery the Sauvé of his time. I would have entertained calling him the "Marty Turco", but I can compare that debacle to nothing else. In theory, it was the same scenario, but the results were quite different. Sauvé actually outplayed Bannerman both seasons he spent at the Old Barn, but was left to sign elsewhere, aka New Jersey, when Pulford decided to scrap the entire goaltending crew after the 86-87 season. The Blackhawks then elected to go with Darren Pang and the" original Cristobal Huet, Bob Mason. How about that for a resume highlight? "Lost job to a Keebler Elf and the goaltending equivalent of John Druce". Ouchie; very very ouchie!

In a bit of an ironic side note, Bobby Moustachio devised a very diabolical way of paying back the team that unceremoniously jettison him many years previous, by representing the painful goaltending experiment known as Jocelyn Thibault as his player agent. Touche, Monsieur.

When the only good pose Todd Macfarlane can get out of you is drinking out of a water bottle after fishing the puck out of your own net...it's safe to say you've give Blackhawks fans nightmares.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Committed Indian / Second City Hockey

On Wednesday, the latest digital edition of The Committed Indian UnOfficial Blackhawks Program was released. As they have hinted to the rest of the intarwebs, the gents are breaking away from the Blog-o-sphere conglomerate that is SB Nation, and starting their own empire.

Back the truck up, and let me rephrase, because that is not entirely true. The gentlemen, and I use that term very loosely, are "moving" their existing empire over, to create the monster that will become TheCommittedIndian.com, mirroring The Committed Indian print and digital programs. This makes all sorts of sense. One name, one point of contact.

I have been a huge fan of the satirical musings if the triumvirate for quite a while. Specifically, since I read an article in the Sun Times about Sam and the Indian, sometime around '08. I'm also not afraid to admit that they are the biggest reason I started this insignificant little rag of my own.

I was always a huge fan of the old Blue Line program, because of its scathing criticism of the Blackhawks, the Wirtz family, and the nightly opponents. They even had the balls to peddle this genius rag on the doorstep of the Stadium/UC. Lack of funds and support, prior to the digital explosion, were the death of the old Blue Line. When I read that Sam was publishing a new and improved version, I was immediately on board. In the same fashion I specifically went to the store to support my favorite bands, even when the digital music apocalypse hit, I will not go to the UC without buying 2 copies, and I subscribe to the digital version. Call me old fashion but I believe in karma, and "paying it forward". I will voraciously support the people I respect and admire, and this is one of those cases.

Second City Hockey, and The Indian helped introduce me to places like The Third Man In, Hockee Night, and quite a few others that I follow

That being said, I'd like to provide you with some links and request some "assignments":
-The guys will be leaving Second City Hockey on September 14th to begin their new endeavor at www.TheCommittedIndian.com. Please, update and create your links and bookmarks.

-Secondly, as with any endeavor, there always needs to be some kind of start up capital. They are raising some funds to get the ball rolling, and if you can afford to do so, I strongly urge people to contribute. You can do so by following the following link:

-Lastly, if you're a Facebooker, go to www.facebook.com/thecommittedindian and "like" the page.
None of this benefits me, in any way, other than providing me and the Blackhawks fanbase with great Blackhawks material for the foreseeable future. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Peabody's Improbable Blackhawks History

This is a post I put together dring the final days of the 08-09 regular season, which turned out to be my first attempt at blogging about the Blackhawks. The season before they won the Stanley Cup. There really isn't too much I whiffed on, overall. Sure, Brian Campbell ended up winning me over, and Cam Barker ended up, well, a bad Edmonton Oiler. All things considered, three full years later, that's not a bad batting average.

As the 2008/09 regular season is about to come to a close for the Blackhawks, I can safely say that for the first time in over a decade, I’ve payed enough attention to the Hawks to be able to give a solid season ending synopsis for the team. Until this season, I’ve boycotted the team because of one single person, Bill Wirtz. The day he passed on was the day I came back to the world of Chicago hockey, and I am so terribly glad to be back. Last year, I successfully predicted that they would be better than their previous years, but were still a year away from the playoffs. I also predicted that this year they would return to the playoffs, and maybe win a round or two. Thus far, I’ve been right on. With 2 games remaining against the devil’s very own hand selected team, Detroit, the Hawks have 44 wins and 100 points. I can whole heartedly say I am very proud of what I have seen and the progress they have made as the NHL’s youngest team.

Coach/Denis Savard – He never stood a chance. It’s clear that Dale Tallon was just looking for a reason to put Quenneville behind the bench, and that slow start was enough. It’s a shame that they treated one of their most popular all-time players that way, but it was bound to happen sometime. I’m glad to see the hard feelings passed, and he’s back as an ambassador, but that’s clearly Savard stepping down about 10 steps in the organization. Grade - Incomplete


Coach/Joel Quenneville – From the day they hired him, they were just waiting to get him behind the bench. He’s a proven, experienced coach, and could light fires under the butts of some of the “tweeners”. He’s done a very admirable job. As with any situation, he’s made some questionable decision, but I have to give him credit for a few. The first, was making Khabby the “go to” guy. He is clearly the most experienced and dependable guy for a tough playoff run. The second is moving Havlat to play with Kane and Toews. This is one of the most talented lines in the entire NHL. Shades of Secord, Savard and Larmer, of the 80’s. Of course they don’t have the grit of Secord, but on pure talent alone, this line is among the best 5, if not best 3, top lines in the game today. The rest are hit and miss, but he’s done what he was brought in for; win. Grade - A



36/Dave Bolland – I’m sure no one expected 18 goals and 46 points out of him, but he’s proven to be a great player with a lot of heart. In a perfect world, he’s probably an excellent 3rd line center. He doesn’t have the finesse of a top 2 center role, but he’s done the job’s he’s been asked of, and he’s done them well. One of many pleasant surprises in 08/09. Grade - A


56/Tim Brent - Didn’t see much of this kid, but what we did se was that he’s still green. I can’t really say much more than when he was up, he wasn’t noticeable, and he ended up back at Rockford. I’d say that says it all. Grade - Incomplete


22/Troy Brouwer - This is a guy that was handed a golden spoon from game one. He was put with two of the most promising young players in the NHL. 10 goals and 26 points doesn’t exactly make one jump up and notice he has some great talent. He’s probably a solid 3rd line guy with some grit. I feel Quenneville let this combination go on far too long, and should have put Marty up with the kids a lot sooner to build that chemistry. I’m not comfortable with him being the “old man” of the top line, at a ripe old 23. Injuries caught up with him, and he was forced elsewhere once Marty clicked with the kids. He’s where he should be now, and it looks like he can be one of the great young Hawks players for years to come. Grade - B

NAILED IT, and Quenneville still fucked it up

37/Adam Burish – classic overachiever. There is nothing flashy about Burish, but he has a huge heart and a motor that doesn’t quit. I really like what I’ve seen out of him, and it’s great to see him throwing his body around game after game. He plays the game like it should be played. When I see him streaking around, I can’t help but think of how he would have fit right in on those late 80’s and early 90’s teams. He’s certainly one of the fan favorites, and reportedly a favorite with the ladies. He reminds me of a Mike Peluso. I hope to see him around for a while. 6 goals and 9 points is nothing to sneeze at, but this is a total character guy. Grade - B


33/Dustin Byfuglien - Big Buff. Sometimes I think he should be called Big Fluff. Someone, somewhere has a fascination with this kid. He’s one of the biggest guys on the team, but he gets lost out there. He often looks confused with the puck, and just confused overall with what his role is. He’s played D and O, and he never looks comfortable at either. I guess he has talent and when he applies himself, he can lay out anyone in the league. You just rarely see that. Coach Q needs to sit him down and define a role that he can fill and have him perfect that. I can’t see him being more than maybe a 2nd liner at best, and a failed footnote in Hawks experiments at worst. Grade - C


55/Ben Eager – If there is an “enforcer” on the team, it’s Eager. He’s no Bob Probert, and as enforcers go, he’s no Stu Grimson. I doubt you’re going to hear any team mumbling about Ben Eager’s jackhammer right hands, and how you have to watch out for him. On the other hand, to his credit, he has stepped into some pretty large skates. He’s young and has time to develop. One of the highlights of the season was his crafty goal in the Winter Classic. That’s something that’ll go down in history, and who would have ever guessed that the nicest goal the Hawks would score in that game was from Ben Eager? Not I, Kemo Sabe. 10 goals and 14 points isn’t too bad, considering his role. Grade – C+


46/Colin Fraser - Here is a guy no one rated very high as a prospect, but has stepped up and found a role as a solid 4th line center. You’re not going to get great speed, a blistering shot, or some great size, but you do get a guy that fit’s his role well. Again, he is an overachiever. He’s right where he belongs. Grade - B


24/Martin Havlat – Marty “Crutches” Havlat. I never thought I’d mention the words injury free, and Havlat in the same sentence, but he has had a remarkable and injury free year. For the first time as a Hawk, I’ve seen him put a little fear in opposing teams. He’s stickhandling, shooting and overall playmaking like an all-star. Of course, this is a contract year for him, so Dale Tallon has a big decision to make. This is certainly why I’d never want to be a GM. One has to ask them self, does 1 year a career make? With all he’s done, can we expect a year even close to this from him ever again? At 27, he hopefully has a lot more hockey in him, but his fragile body is scary. The future aside, he has had an amazing year. Grade – A+


88/Patrick Kane – The sophomore slump hasn’t Patty Kane. He has followed up a rookie of the year season with a very admirable season. If he has a solid final 2 games, he could tie his point total from last season, but you’d like to see him move up a notch each year. 70 points a year is good, but for a talent like Pat, he should have neared the 85 point range. Something he really needs to look into is plus/minus, which is negative both years. A top line guy should be in the plus. That being said, he’s a top NHL player and should be for years to come. At 20, he has a lot of good years ahead. How about a scoring title right here in Chicago? I wouldn’t be surprised. Grade - A


16/Andrew Ladd – When the Hawks traded away Tuomo Ruuttu, I asked myself, who the hell is Andrew Ladd? Now we know. He’s been a solid 3rd liner all year. For most of the year, he’s had to help shut down many of the top lines in the game, and he’s been successful. He’s gotten himself 13 goals and 46 points, along with an exceptional plus/minus of +23. He’s not going to “wow” you, or stickhandle through two guys, but he will bowl you over and throw his body around. He’s shown to be another character guy, that has done nothing but produce. Once again, he’s another person that has some good years ahead of him, at 23. Grade - A


26/Samuel Pahlsson – Now, I’ve never been a fan of the trade for Pahlsson. I’ve always thought his best days are a bit behind him, and even his best days weren’t mind blowing. But, based on their weakness at the center position, I can see how they needed to give it the ‘ol college try. I just think we could have gotten more for what we gave up. Wizer was a great locker room guy, and a solid Defenseman. I think we gave up a little too much chemistry for this guy. Granted he’s only played a few games, but I really don’t see much that has impressed me. We don’t need one top center and a bunch of 3rd liners behind him. Grade - Incomplete


27/Pascal Pelletier - Didn’t see much of this guy, but like Brent, when he played, he was invisible. And how dare he don the number of the great Darryl Sutter, Rick Vaive, and that Roenick character. Big shoes to fill, Pascal. I suggest a change. Grade - Incomplete


10/Patrick Sharp – One of the unsung heros of the Hawks. Sharpie followed up a career year last year, with another banner season, to show the league he has arrived. I liken his rise to that of Steve Sullivan here in Chicago. No one thought much of him, but once he found a home here, he lit things up. He’s the perfect guy to build the second line around. Let’s not even mention the fact that he’s been playing out of position most of the year. The top brass owes it to him to find a solid center for him to work with in the offseason. Throw Versteeg up there with him, and you have a great line. How’s that Matt Ellison trade looking for you now, Philly? Grade – B (because of injury)


11/Jack Skille – Here is a guy that I’ve been hearing about for a few years now. The next big power forward. In very limited action, I’ve seen nothing memorable. At the rate he’s going, he can team up with Pascal and Brent for a killer line…in Rockford, IL. Grade - Incomplete

NAILED IT, enjoy Florida

19/Jonathan Toews - Jonny T, Superman, JT, or whatever you’d like to call him. The kid can play. Toews is the face of the franchise at 20. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him. The only criticism I have of him is some of the bad penalties in the offensive zone. That aside, this is the next Blackhawks Icon. Watch out Troy Murray, your number is going to be hanging in the UC rafters someday with the name Toews under it. Grade – A+


32/Kris Versteeg – Here we have one of the biggest surprises of the season. If you would have told me Kris Versteeg would be in the running for the Calder trophy, I would have looked at you and said “who?” After watching his spark, he has become probably my favorite player. He’s fairly quietly put together an excellent season with 22 goals and 52 points. If it weren’t for the goalies in Columbus, and Nashville, he might have a serious shot for rookie of the year.

Dropped off a bit in Toronto (who hasn't?) and Philly, but found a home in Florida


25/Cam Barker – Cam has been another pleasant surprise for the Hawks. Just a year ago, it looked as though he could be another overhyped high draft pick, and here he is one of the top defenseman on the team. He’s made it easy to overlook Brian Campbell’s virtual disappearance in crunch time. It’s amazing to see the poise and maturity he’s found in a year’s time. He ranks as one of the top powerplay defensemen in the entire league. He has used his size to outmuscle people, and on more than a few occasions he has made diving and sprawling stops. Add his heavy shot and you have another young star in the making. You’d like to see him bring his plus/minus up, but he’s only 23, and has a bright future ahead. Grade – B+

This was the big whiff. Hey, I was green.

51/Brian Campbell – As they call him in the Committed Indian, Phantom 51, because he disappears. Everyone in Chicago wanted Campbell, and we overpaid to get him, so we can’t really fault anyone but ourselves. Fast forward to present day and give up Huet and Campbell for Hossa. It’s looking like it would be a much better deal. Not only that, but you save yourself a few million dollars. Campbell has shown some flashes of excitement, but for the most part he’s been a disappointment. For all the hoopla and All-Star shenanigans, he’s barely been a top 4 defenseman on his own team. Keith, Seabrook, and Barker have all played better. Credit the Hawks farm system with this dilemma, because it’s not a bad one to have, but Campbell needs to step up and stop the silly ass spin-o-ramas. We once had a beloved player here in Chicago named Savard, who trademarked the spin-o-rama, Danny Partridge. Just stick with the speedy, puck carrying, powerplay quarterback defenseman, because you have a bit to go on that one. Grade - C

He stepped up and won me over the following two years. Secondary whiff.

6/Jordan Hendry – Another prospect we hear so much about, but hasn’t played enough to even be noticed. Add him to the Pascal, Brent, and Skille line. Grade - Incomplete


4/Niklas Hjalmarsson – Again, a prospect we hear so much about. I’ve seen nothing that impresses me. He plays smaller than his size, and gets outmuscled. I’m not sure he’s quite figures out how to properly finish a check but then again that wouldn’t be the first time a Swedish defenseman couldn’t check. He’s bigger than Nick Lindstrom, but hasn’t shown it. Could we really get that lucky here? Don’t hold your breath. He’s very raw at this point. Maybe he’ll be something to crow about in 2 years, he’s still very unfinished. Grade - D


23/Aaron Johnson – I guess they really have gotten all they could out of Johnson. He’s not dripping with potential. He’s big, and kind of on the slower side, but he’s done an admirable job when asked. His plus/minus of +18 in 36 games is freakish, but don’t hand him the Norris trophy. With the stable of defensemen the Hawks have, he’ll be lucky to hang around for another year or two. Just too much talent. Grade – B-

Generous on the grade, but pretty much, nailed it.

2/Duncan Keith – Quietly, he’s lead a solid season on D. I’m sure it’s nice to have all the pressure on Campbell. Keith does nothing but produce and lead by example. You don’t hear complaining from him, and he just shows game in and game out why he’s one of the classiest defensemen in the entire NHL. He’s near tops in the league with a plus/minus of +32. Lets hope #2 is roaming the Chicago blue line for many years to come. Grade – A+


7/Brent Seabrook – On very few teams would Seabrook not be the top blueliner. This is one of them. Like Keith, he’s done nothing but show class and solid gameplay night in and night out. He’s big, intimidating, and has no problem catching you with your head down. He’s also another guy with a freakish plus/minus of +21. This core of big young D-men has to make most of the league jealous. They’re all under 25 and shown stellar composure. Grade - A


5/Brent Sopel – the old man of the D-men at 32 hasn’t shown much. At this point he’s just a spot filler for one of the kids to finally find their step in the NHL. 1 goal, and 2 points in 23 games with a plus/minus of -4 is just snooze worthy.


8/Matt Walker – He must be bringing Q coffee every morning, because he’s just plain bad. He’s big, slow, and seems to trip over his own feet. I’d rather watch one of the kids trip over themselves and get some serious time with the big club than watch Walker not be aggressive enough. I hope to god we don’t see him in the line-up for the playoffs, and I happen to thing Khabby feel the same way. Grade - D



50/Corey Crawford – I’m beginning to ask myself who’s cereal he pissed in, because he’s getting the shaft. I added him in, even though he hasn’t even been able to sniff a dirty Hawks sweater this season. Last year he was anointed the future goaltender of the Hawks and they let Lalime go. Game on, right? No! They sign Huet to some retarded overpriced contract, and then sign Niemi to take Crawford’s spot in the minors. Did he sleep with Dale Tallon’s daughters or something? I’m not sure what happened, but I hope he gets a shot somewhere that wants him. He’s a good young Goalie. Grade – N/A


38/Cristobal Huet – I don’t like him. Plain and simple. I didn’t agree with the signing the day they did it and I still don’t. He’s overhyped, and a technically lazy goaltender. He really needs to thank Bob Gainey for trading him to Washington last season. That team carried him to the finals, and lead to the silly contract the Hawks offered him. As he sits on the bench warming his butt cheeks, he’s laughing all the way to the bank. His play overall has been good, if you go by stats, but if you watch him play, you see that he’s lazy when recovering from shots, and his 5 hole is awful. There is a reason LA, Montreal, and Washington gave up on him. Unfortunately, Tallon will never admit the signing was a mistake, so we’re stuck with him for a few more years. Grade - B


39/Nikolai Khabibulin – I am now comfortable admitting that the day Khabby was signed, I was stoked. Four years, and several disappointing seasons later, Khabby has finally found his game. Maybe its because he finally had some legitimate competition, but he’s been phenomenal. I was even shouting for them to trade him at last years trade deadline, and before the season started. I’m glad they didn’t. I’ve always liked his style, and pulled for him to do well, but it just wasn’t working. He has had one of his best seasons ever, and has been the veteran wall he needed to be for this team. The bad part is that they’ll never resign him. He’s probably going to end up somewhere like Detroit, and we’ll miss him when he’s gone. Grade - A

NAILED IT. Remember that trade talk last spring about bringing him back?

31/Antti Niemi – If I’m Corey Crawford, here is my arch enemy. I’m securely holding down the top at Rockford, and they bring in this hotshot kid from overseas to take over. I can’t say I’ve seem much of him, but he comes highly rated. In the games he’s played, he looks like he’s still a season away from NHL backup duty. I see potential, and I preferred him over Huet when Khabby was hurt, even though Huet is clearly a better goaltender at this point. Niemi is not as sloppy, technically, he just isn’t adjusted to the quality of NHL shots. I really don’t know if he is the future of the franchise or solid trade bait. I personally like Crawford better, but that has nothing to do with talent. I would imagine Niemi will end up a #1 Goaltender somewhere in a few years, and it could be here. Having a European goalie it’s the worst thing in the world. Just look at Niklas Backstrom, Pekka Rinne, and the gaggle of other ones throughout the league. Niemi and Crawford are the same size and almost the same age, so it comes down to talent. Unfortunately for Crawford, Q seems to like Niemi. Grade - Incomplete


Friday, July 13, 2012

Disposable Teens: Blackhawks Prospect Camp

The Blackhawks have been holding their annual prospect camp this week, at Johnny's Icehouse West, and I took the trek to rink with a friend of mine that coaches High School hockey, to get a peek at the gents for ourselves. Most of the Free Agents there won't ever see a Blackhawks or Ice Hogs contract, but the chance that a diamond in the rough might surface is intriguing.

For the most part, there are two levels of player in this camp. The Blackhawks draft picks; and everyone else. This was the first chance for Blackhawks nation to see the most recent draft picks strut their stuff on the ice.

All of the draft picks suited up for this weeks festivities minus second round pick Dillon Fournier, who was listed on the roster but wasn't practicing. I'm not sure if he was hurt or something, but it would have been nice to see him skate.

Here is a run down of my thoughts of the players on the ice. First, I'll weigh in on the 2011 draft picks:
  • Teuvo Teravainen - This kid was far and away the most talented guy in camp. He has 2 goals and an assist in the two games I watched. He's certainly on the smallish side, but he makes up for it with his hockey sense, speed, and stick skills. Here is his goal from Thursday, His goal from Wednesday, and his nice set up of a goal on Wednesday.
  • Chris Calnan - The kid is fast, and word is that he came in as the best physical specimen. Nothing stool out except his penalty kill prowess, but he is still really young. Here is his goal on Thursday.
  • Garret Ross - Got into a fight on Wednesday. He is a version of Andrew Shaw that agitates opponents, and yaps a lot.
  • Travis Brown - Nothing of note. He blended in with the rest.
  • Vincent Hinostroza - Small and shifty, but too willing to hog the puck. Quick and like a firefly, but needs a lot of refining.
  • Brandon Whitney - Looks 12 years old when not suited up. Of the past two prospect camps, Whitney is the best goaltender I've seen on the ice. The kid is big and slim, and expends very little energy making saves. His stature alone keeps him in position to succeed. Wanted to see more of him, but he was held out of the scrimmage on Thursday.
  • Matt Tomkins - Didn't really stand out, but didn't disappoint. Average sized Goalie that blended in with the free agent invitees.
Next, we have the Blackhawks draft picks and signee's from years past. Just a brief overview:
  • Terry/Alex Broadhurst - Alex was the most noticeable, but younger, of the two Broadhurst boys. Terry sat out Thursday's on ice activities, so that has something to do with his visibility. They got a big push playing with McNeill as their Center Wednesday. Both guys are fast and really slim.
  • Phillip Danault - Showed great instincts at both Center and Wing. Had a goal, and had a few other chances. The puck seems to find him, and he's a smooth skater. A tad on the lanky side.
  • Dan Delisle - This 2009 3rd round draft pick was just another face in the crowd. BIG body, but nothing really stood out. Back to College for you.
  • Kevin Hayes - Played Center and didn't look out of place doing so. Still raw.
  • Mark McNeill - Played both Wing and Center. Had a good portion of his draws taken by Alex Broadhurst, which can't be a good thing. He looked of average foot speed, and really didn't do anything of note.
  • Joakim Nordstrom - Got a good push, playing with Danault and Saad. Solid European player didn't look overmatched.
  • Brandon Saad - The golden goose of the group, other than Teravainen. Looked like he might have been coasting a bit. We all know what we're going to get from him already.
  • Maxim Shalunov - Fourth round pick from last year's draft played with the better prospects, but just another one of the guys that blended in.
  • Braden Birch - Tall defenseman from the 08 draft. Nothing special. another face in the crowd.
  • Adam Clendening - One of the top Defenseman prospects in the Hawks system. Tad on the shorter side, but looked as though he was the defensive captain out on the ice. Will see time in Rockford, come fall.
  • Klas Dahlbeck - Third rounder from 2011, is tall but not exactly fleet of foot. Defensive defenseman.
  • Joe Gleason - Quick/Small defender that likes to carry the puck a bit too much. Can see him getting caught rushing too much. Looked like he was thinking all Offense. At a generous 5'9"/171 he's Brian Connolly version 2.0.
  • Justin Holl - Another tall defender from the 2010 draft. Didn't stand out.
  • Sam Jardine - Of the defensive prospects, The Dean of Mean looked like he had flashes of potential. Sat by his mother Wednesday and watched her cover her face as he got into a fight just a few minutes into the scrimmage. Only 18, and headed to College.
  • Nick Mattson - Twenty year old Defenseman played with Clendening. Nothing of note.
  • Michael Paliotta - Big 19 year old Defenseman that seems to be getting some coddling from the organization. If he puts on a few pounds, he might be a bulldozer.
  • Paul Phillips - Average size College Defenseman at Denver and from Darien, that also played with Clendening. Blended in.
  • Mac Carruth - One of two mid level prospects. Played better than average, and better than Simpson. Seems to get stuck on his ass/back alot. Lost in the shootout Thursday.
  • Kent Simpson - The other mid level goaltending prospect in the organization. Didn't stand out, but also didn't play terrible. Had a rough stretch on Thursday, but didn't get much help either.
These guys are free agent invitees, most of which will be playing elsewhere come Autumn:
  • Adam Berkle - I didn't notice him much, but my friend pointed out that he made several irresponsible plays with the puck. Pass.
  • Kyle Bonis - Saw him out there, but couldn't tell you anything he did
  • Ryan Carpenter - Another name, with no real recollection.
  • Daniel Carr - Fast and scored a couple of goals, including the Thursday Shootout winner, but I doubt it will do him any good.
  • Kyle De Laurell - Played with some of the bigger names, but didn't really leave me clamoring for more.
  • Denis Hollenstein - Nothing of note, despite playing top 6 minutes.
  • Miks Indrasis - My friend and I both liked what we saw of this guy. I'd call him a bubble player. Big, and has played in the KHL. Might make a good Ice Hog.
  • Matthew Lindblad - Another face in the crowd.
  • Matthew Lorito - See above
  • Chris Martin - Got into a fight Wednesday with Garett Ross.
  • Nick McParland - Pass
  • Pat Mullane - Forward from BC, Scored and was in on some of the action.
  • Mihail Plotnikov - Looks bigger on the ice than the 5'7" he's listed at. Threw is body around a little, but wasn't as fast as you'd expect from a player that small. Played with Hinostroza to create the mighty mite line.
  • Aaron Schmit - Got into a fight with Jardine Wednesday. Big cementhead that is better off with a club ib his hand than a stick.
  • Mat Bodie - Nothing noticeable
  • Chris Casto - Nothing noticeable
  • Jake Chelios - Chris's kid looks tall and thin. Nothing really of note, but turned over the puck at bad times.
  • Mark Nemec - Nothing noticeable
  • Steven Spinell - Nothing noticeable
  • Viktor Svedberg - One of the players I really was curious about. Got a big push. On the slower side, but not as slow as you might think a 6'9", 221 lb, 21 year old. I wouldn't be opposed to a better look at him. Didn't look overmatched at all and had a big body to throw around.
  • Troy Grosenick - One of three Free Agent Goalies, and didn't look bad or great. I would have ranked him the #3 FA guy.
  • Andrew Hammond - 24 year old from Bowling Green. Made several nice saves and stood out as the best FA Goalie in the camp. Oldest player in camp could stick somewhere.
  • Eric Mihalik - Quirky goalie from Colgate, with an interesting style. On the shorter side. Former Team USA World Junior A Goalie wasn't bad at all but, in a tight race, I feel he was #2 of the 3 FA guys. Won the Shootout on Thursday against players like Danault, Nordstrom, Hayes, and Calnan which deserves some credit.
Here is the Shootout from Thursday's action:
Stay tuned for my live photos from Thursday's practice and scrimmage.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blackhawks Free Agency: Drop the Ball

We were fed all kinds of lines for the last two months about a busy draft and a busy free agent period for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks brass and every talking head assured us that they were seriously going all in and were going to be hitting the market like a heavy bag. At this point, it all looks like a big bunch of management lip service. I posted this the other day, but this is truly how the Blackhawks "plan of attack", or "roadmap" looks:

As of July 3rd, the Blackhawks have had their least eventful offseason since years before winning the cup. One minor trade during the draft, and one minor signing on the opening day of Free Agency. Sure they picked up some kids at the draft, but none of those players will help the Blackhawks in the 2012/13 season or even the following one, if there is in fact a season.

A hurricane of speculation erupted yesterday, when a few flapping gums in the media threw out some speculation that the Blackhawks were one of the exclusive finalists for the Parise-palooza-mania. This just sent the intarwebs into a mad frothy frenzy. Later in the day, I saw a twat that said the Hawks had put in serious offers for both Suter and Parise, and were willing to sign both. While I'd love to see both players on the Hawks, I call shenanigans on that rumor. They barely have the room for Parise, much less Parise AND Suter. When the dust settles, don't be surprised if both players are elsewhere, and the Hawks are left like a jilted Bride on her wedding day.

Blackhawks fans will be disappointed once again, and looking forward to the last possible scenario for help. Trade. Bowman has, basically, painted the Blackhawks into a corner by not being more aggressive at the draft and in free agency. With their single D-list signing, Sunday, all that is left on the market are the huge dollar players (for the moment) and the scrap heap players. No "creamy center" players, and certainly no decent top six center icemen. Now the entire league knows what the Hawks holes are, and will ask a king's ransom through trade. Honestly, if the Hawks PP can prop itself up into the top quarter, or even top half, of teams, the defense and goaltending will right themselves to a respectable level. Does wonders when you're working with a lead.

Moving on, The Hawks now have 48 players signed to contracts, which leaves 2 spots. TWO! People need to be moved, especially when you have 8 defensemen signed, which means that Dylan Olsen will be towing the Rockford Icehogs on his back for at least half the season. That still leaves the Hawks with 7 defensemen, although Brookbank could easily be a #7 guy. He is a SLIGHT upgrade over Lepisto, O'Donnell, and John Scott.

The desire to unload Nik Hjalmarsson is the worst kept secret in he NHL, which means the Blackhawks will get a big bag of "fuck all" in return for him. Cautious Stanley will have to sweeten the pot quite a bit to get anything of significance in return.

Anyhow, Lets get on to the shockingly bland Blackhawks news of the Free Agent period. The Blackhawks signed 31 year old defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to a 2 year deal worth $2.5 million. His brother has played in Rock Vegas last two seasons, so he has some ties to the Blackhawks other than being pummeled in the melon by two different Blackhawks in one season. From everything I have read, Sheldon was well liked in Anaheim. All things considered, he is no Ryan Suter. He will be a 6-7 guy that can buy into the "sandpaper" role, and tenderize a few faces. Last season was his career best in points, with a whopping 14, and games played, with 80. The bottom line is that if we see a lot of Sheldon Brookbank on the ice, there is something wrong here in the windy city. Sunday, was the most attention he will get this season.

Here is a little of Brookbank's "handy" work:

"Sheldon Brookbank on the wrong end of that confrontation"

The Blackhawks also signed journeyman Martin St. Pierre, who they dumped back in '08 for Pascal Pelletier, to and AHL deal. Nothing like living in the past, eh? Couldn't get enough Martin St. Pierre could they? He's pretty much an AHL bumslayer, but the good news is that Patrick Kane will now have another bro to party with. Check out St.Pierre partying in vegas with Mr. Biznasty himself. He's going to fit right in!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make A New Plan, Stan
There Must Be
Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover

Tuesday, some wise ass gave me the old "what would you do? what is your plan?" regarding a comment I posted that eluded to the fact that I wasn't going to expect any big transactions from Stan Bowman until he proves that I should feel otherwise. I figured the best thing to do was put together some plans to quiet the wise asses. What does HE know? Maybe I just missed my calling. Maybe I secretly AM a brilliant hockey mind.

To blindly throw trust into a GM that has watched the team he controls progressively head in reverse is naive and irresponsible. Everyone and their housekeeper can criticize the President when the economy doesn't recover or Obamacare gets uphend, but Stan Bowman should be allowed carte blanche because his last name is Bowman, which obviously means he must be the right hand of God. If that's the case, Obama should seriously consider a name change to Barack Kennedy Roosevelt.

Contrary to the conclusions that most Twatters probably have drawn, I don't hate Bowman at all. If Cautious Stanley is the type of GM he is, then so be it. If that approach means that the Hawks will continue to fade into the lore of the '85 Bears, then Bowman should end up jobless in the near future. If that approach means that the conservative method works them back into the conference or cup finals, then great for everyone. Based on the evidence of his first 36 months in office, his cautious approach has yielded them draft picks aplenty and little else. Using the salary cap as an excuse for failure is really unfair, because every team has the same restrictions, and Bowman was billed as the cap savant that was going to make all the issues magically disappear. He has had a respectable amount of cap space for 12 months, now, and has done nothing to improve the team. These are facts, kind people. He is quickly losing my support.

A team getting ousted in the first round for two straight years with a decent amount of cap room left on the table smells of a few possible scenarios:

-Bowman hoped that the team would get lucky, catch fire, and some players would carry them for four rounds, which is like rubbing a lamp and hoping for a genie. Hoping and wishing is a bad business strategy.

-Bowman grossly overvalued the talent on this team, which is a seriously disturbing character flaw. If he watched this team play and thought they were capable of anything more than what happened, he's not smarter than the meatballs who were doing their chicken little dance in December.

-Bowman just simply gave up, which is unacceptable for any number of reasons.

I would put my money on one of the first two. None of them should make fans all that comfortable. Anyhow, Enough "angry" bashing of the chosen one, and on to my brilliant couch GM rantings.

With the draft in the rear view, and the UFA period period on the horizon, the Hawks have less opportunity than they did a week ago. The draft could have been a prime opportunity to drop some less than desirable players and some salaries. We don't know what happened within the inner circle Friday night and Saturday. Bowman may have been weeping and begging on his knees for someone to Nik Hjalmarsson and Michael Frolik, and ever single GM in the league turned him down. He may have cornered Doug Wilson and threatened to shank him if he didn't take Hjalmarsson this time around, only to have his bluff called. I highly doubt both, and it looks as though Bowman wasn't willing to take any more losses on deals to free up cabbage. Your call, Stan.

One thing that the team has on its side is that there are no RFA's to tender qualifying offers to. One less thing to complicate the process. See? I'm not completely negative. Good boy, Stanley; you're such a good boy!

On to the UFA frenzy. This is the biggest and most exciting transaction day in the NHL. Chum in the water, and the sharks are swimming. Before I examine just who the Hawks should put on the speed dial, it would be best to lay out the current rostered players under contract. The current roster lays out like this:

CJonathan Toews19
CDavid Bolland36
C/WJamal Mayers22
CMarcus Kruger16
WBryan Bickell29
WBrandon Bollig52
WDaniel Carcillo13
WMichael Frolik67
WJimmy Hayes39
WMarian Hossa81
WPatrick Kane88
WPatrick Sharp10
WAndrew Shaw65
WVictor Stalberg25
DDuncan Keith2
DBrent Seabrook7
DNick Leddy8
DJohnny Oduya27
DNiklas Hjalmarsson4
DSteve Montador5
DDylan Olsen34
GCorey Crawford50
GRay Emery30

That, right there, is what you call a full boat, folks. Four Centers (if you include MegaMayers), ten wings, seven defensemen, and two goalies. If the season began tonight, three of those players would be healthy scratches. The problem with this is that the roster above is the same team that lost 9 straight last season and was schooled by Phoenix in the first round; and are a year older. That cannot stay the same. If you keep going to war with the same army, you're going to keep getting the same results. Expecting different is the DEFINITION of insanity.

The only two choices are trade, and then free agency. One doesn't have to come before the other, but if they sign someone July 1, they will need to move a body or two somewhere. They have three open slots in the entire organization to sign players, because currently teams in the NHL can only have 50 players signed to contracts. As I sit here, the team has 23 in the NHL and 24 in the depths of hell. They can currently sign three players for a total of $8,134,872 annually, with the recent salary cap announcement. For those mouth breathers having this read to them in their cages, that is $2,711,624 a year. Not exactly bait for any big fish unless they just sign one or two players.

The first scenario is trade. It is pretty much understood that the names most mentioned in trade rumors are Hjalmarsson, Stalberg, Frolik, Bickell, and any of the assorted kids in the system. Most of you should be aware of this, but there aren't many teams out there bidding for those players. The pickins are slim, as they say. Bolland and Montador have been discussed, but they are players with injury histories and fat contracts. Of the players listed, the Hawks are most likely to hear back about Hjalmarsson, Bolland and Stalberg. I could sit here and dream up some crazy scenarios like a certain message board, without knowing if the players at the other end are even available. Not worth wasting my time. What IS worth telling you is that Hammer would free up $3.5 million, Bolland $3.375 million, Stalberg $875K, Frolik $2.333 million, Montador $2.75 million, and Bickell frees up virtually nothing while swimming in the shallow end at the league minimum. The would, no doubt, have to take SOME salary back, but it's safe to say they could clear up another $2 million without breaking a sweat. With Stall off the market, Evander Kane is a possible big name guy, but they would have to trade for, and then resign him. I don't see it happening.

If they are able to pull off some fat trimming, they would have enough room to make a run at either a big name player or a couple of lesser solid ones. I'm fine with either, as long as it is an honest attempt to make the team better. What I'm NOT fine with is Bowman sitting on his thumb while teams like the Rangers, Pens or Wings make significant additions. The Hawks are not that good. They are not a team that can stand pat and dominate. One more year of mediocrity and this team is bordering on the need for a rebuild.

I know all the wise asses are out there saying, "OK, genius, tell me who they should get". In a fantasy land, Zach Parise, Shea Weber or Ryan Suter sound like lovely plans, but this isn't NHL 12 and there are other factors. Of those three, Suter is the one most likely to wear an Indianhead, but I'd give that a %15 chance, at best. Again, I'm all for a run, but I don't think the Hawks can compete, and I can accept that.

Where I think they need to make their mark is where they have failed pretty miserably since Bowman's promotion, and that is the second level FA market. I could run down the list, but there are a few names out there. Jason Garrison, Sheldon Souray, Matt Carle, and a host of others are out there on the back end.

As far as forwards go, there are people out there, just not the big names. Filling the hole at center would be a huge upgrade, but that would probably mean that Bolland needs to move up or Sharp bites the bullet. Kane cannot be the Blackhawks second line center, long term because he can't win a faceoff. Someone like Paul Gaustad could step in at #3 or #4, and I always like the face-off ability of Zenon Konopka at the #4 center. Hell, even Olli Jokinen is an attempt. It has been put out that Toews was sweet talking Shane Doan in the NHLPA meetings. If they can get him for $2 million or less, by all means, sign his tough ass. Otherwise, they are at risk of another Andrew Brunette debacle with an aging player, on the decline, getting pulled around the ice by the kids.

Take this for what it is worth, folks. It is a plan of attack. When all is said and done, I don't want to have to criticize anyone in the organization. I was a stern supporter of the Capocalypse of 2010. It was a necessary evil. Two years removed and the team is still moving in the wrong direction. As a fan, I SHOULDN'T be happy with this, and neither should you. Damn the man! Save the Empire!


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