Chicago Blackhawks' Brian Campbell celebrates go-ahead goal against Vancouver Canucks in 2nd period during Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Game 4 at United Center in Chicago, IL on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune) B581209379Z.1 ....OUTSIDE TRIBUNE CO.- NO MAGS,  NO SALES, NO INTERNET, NO TV, NEW YORK TIMES OUT, CHICAGO OUT, NO DIGITAL MANIPULATION...  (hockey pro)

Maybe They’re Lookin’ For Answers – C.I.’s Season Preview: 51 Phantom And The Defense

When the Hawks opened camp on Friday, we discussed what their biggest problem is, and that’s forward depth. Today might be a good day to swing at the other side, before we spend the rest of this in the middle (sounds like life). And that’s the Hawks’ defense.

Which sounds strange to say, because the Hawks’ defense last year was most certainly not a strength. And some of those problems could be problems this year, too. Duncan Keith’s knee is not really ever going to be “better.” That may be nothing or it may be something, and that something may be down the line. Once you remove that cartilage though, it’s not like it regrows. And he was clearly off by a half-step last year.

Secondly, if Brent Seabrook is still ordering the menu at Manny’s on the way to the morning skate, then there are still issues that Brian Campbell is not going to solve. So far so good, on that front, but we’ll see what the real games have to say.

What we do know is that the signing of 51 Phantom is going to solve a lot of problems.

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Roy Radke – Everyman Prospect

With the Hawks opening camp today, their roster is currently about 3 times the size of what it will be three weeks from now, peppered with draft picks, invitees, and career AHLers (and in Tyler Motte’s case, the ECHL according to Fifth Feather). And one entry on the list stands out among all the others.

Roy Radke was taken by the Hawks in the 6th round last year as the 164th overall pick. And what’s striking about him is not his projectable frame or his mediocre OHL point totals, but the fact that he is for all intents and purposes a child under 20 years old named “Roy” in the age of Jadens, Cadens, Braydens, and such and such. Add to it his family name of Radke, and the name is an anachronism for a fresh-faced hockey prospect.

So here at the Committed Indian Chuckle Hut, we have devised a list of hardscrabble occupations far more befitting the name of “Roy Radke”

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Oct 7, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save on a shot by Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) in the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe They’re Looking For Answers – C.I.’s Season Preview: The Left Wing Problem

I never know quite what to do with these season previews. To go player-by-player gets monotonous for you and for us, but there isn’t really way to do something every day either. We’ve tried multiple paths, so this year we’re just going to blend them all. Over the next couple weeks before Meth County shows up on the 12th to kick things off, we’ll look at certain players, certain questions, and certain other factors on how this season will go. We can’t be contained.

So today, it feels right to look at the Hawks biggest problem, and that’s their forward depth and specifically, who the fuck is playing  the left side on any of these lines?

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World Cup: Fantasy Booking

It’s hard to get a gauge one how this tournament is going over. We know Twitter can be something of an echo chamber (ha, “can”). So if you thought this thing was stupid  you definitely can find enough people who agree with you to get the impression that everyone thinks it’s stupid. If you like it, because hey, it’s hockey in September and these are still the best players in the world out there you can find enough voices too.

I’ve enjoyed having hockey back this early, enjoyed laughing at Team USA, and while The Young Ones have been endlessly entertaining I can’t escape the feeling of it being misplaced and manufactured. I feel the same way about the Young Ones that I do about 3-on-3 OT. It’s a gimmick, an entertaining gimmick, and the gimmick-nature of it kind of robs it of its meaning and misses the point of the competition.

So of course the two would merge yesterday afternoon, and anyone watching it couldn’t take their eyes off of it, no matter the internal struggle.

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American Gothic

There isn’t much I can add to what everyone else said last night about Team USA. We basically knew this team was doomed the minute the preliminary roster was released and Justin Abdelkader was on it. We knew they were further doomed when the U-23 players wouldn’t be available, though we were suspicious that they would have been picked anyway given USA Hockey’s, and really hockey in general’s, adherence to veterans and #GRITHEARTSANDPAPERFAAAAARRRT.

Last night I spent a fair amount of time baffled at how Dean Lombardi had put together two Cup winners (though I guess it’s really one team that won twice when they’re that close together) if this is what he prioritized for Team USA. But the thing is, there was a time when Lombardi totally got it. While the Kings first Cup team was big and nasty and relied on Quick to bash their way to a parade, the 2014 team beat the Hawks at their own game. Lombardi saw what needed to be done and added Gaborik, called up Pearson and Toffoli and let them run. All of that was added to Doughty, Martinez, Voynov, and Muzzin who could really push the play. Remember the pace at which that Conference Final was played. That wasn’t neanderthal hockey. That was hockey as it should be. Where did that Dean Lombardi go?

Apparently he was lost long ago as he tried to back it up after that with the likes of Milan Lucic, Brayden McNabb, and Vinny Lecavalier. Maybe he was on drugs in 2014?

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Russia Tries Something New

See now this is what I’m talking about.

We have our most exciting game of the tournament, Russia-North America from last night. And while we wax poetic about the Olympics and about the two Canada-US games from 2010, how many other great games do you remember from the Olympics? Maybe one or two others? This was as good as anything that tournament has offered up.

Ok, sure, it’s one made-up team that essentially got to pick current or about-to-be All-Stars while everyone else had harder restrictions. But it was still faster than just about anything you’re going to find in an NHL game. And that’s the point. These international tournaments are supposed to be of a higher level than what we get in the league. This is why soccer fans love the World Cup and European Championships (even though the last version of each of those has been rather dogshit). It’s the best the sport can produce. That’s what we got last night.

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The Program, A Couple Other Announcements, And World Cup Weekend

So as training camp approaches, it’s time for us to announce a couple changes going on here at our humble home.

First and foremost, the gameday program I have done for the past eight seasons is not coming back this season. I have a couple other projects I’m working on that really wouldn’t allow for the time to do it, and more importantly I just don’t feel it anymore. Those of you who read it every game are owed a level of dedication and focus that I just don’t think I’m capable of right now.

However, I won’t leave you totally bereft. If you feel the need to “complete the set,” I’m making every back issue available here.  It’s $10 bucks for each season, and all three commemorative issues are included with the three seasons they won the Cup. If you feel you need it, it’s there.

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