NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks

And So It Begins – ’13-’14 Hawks Preview: The Elderly

Ok, quick announcement. I honestly thought up until last night that camp started today. And then it struck me as weird that I wasn’t seeing any tweets about South Bend, or about camps anywhere. Only then did I bother to actually look it up again. So it’s next week. Huh. Well what do you know?

So because I was all ready to work on an issue, there actually will be a Bears Preview (sorta) edition of The Indian tomorrow. Keep an eye out.

Right, more preview! More asbestos! More asbestos!

How will the team handle the elderly over a full season (Hossa, Rosival, handzus) – Mighty Mike D

To me, this is a great question and a true test of what Q has learned from ’10-’11. As we remember then, when Q had a roster he deemed….incomplete let’s say, he decided to ride the ones he did trust awfully, awfully hard. You’ll remember Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, and especially Hossa getting an absurd amount of ice time per game. And then there were some games where they simply had nothing in the tank. Sharp got hurt to complicate things even more.

You could extend this question now to Keith and Sharp, who are over 30. There are a few things I’d like to see done for the top end elders. First, at least until March, I’d like to see Hossa off the kill. I know it sounds silly to fuck with a unit further after it’s already lost Bolland and especially Frolik (though Bolland didn’t actually kill that much last year). But you have to shave Hossa’s minutes somewhere, especially if he’s going to Sochi. And he is.

With Kruger, Smith, Shaw, Saad, Toews, you’ve got five forwards and for a lot of penalties Q just rotated through four. Morin killed penalties in the Rock last year if he makes the team. Bickell wouldn’t be the worst idea, though might be a little leaden-footed. When Handzus plays Q hasn’t hesitated to get him a shift on the kill, if only to win a draw. You could rotate the sixth slot around if need be.

On the flip side, and this will never happen, but get Keith off the power play. He’s not really doing much on there, and Leddy should be the #1 QB now anyway. It makes for a hole on the second unit obviously, but it would allow Q to get creative. Maybe have Seabrook on the second unit. Or let Pirri QB it? Like that would ever happen. It’s hard to do, but with Keith having reached the peak of 30 years on this planet and now beginning the descent (not effectiveness wise, just metaphorically. EAT MY METAPHORS), it’s worth looking into. Considering Hammer actually has a bomb from the point when he gets time, is it worth giving him a shot as a trigger-man somewhere?

Sharp shouldn’t kill penalties regularly, which would only leave a handful of players who play on both special teams for sure (Toews, Seabrook, Saad….and that really could be it).

As for Handzus, he really shouldn’t play more than 60-65 games. Q will have to go without his binky, and we know how he feels about that. But there’s no way he’s getting through 82 in four pieces, much less one. And he shouldn’t be asked to do more than 12 minutes a night on the 4th line. When he comes out, Smith or Shaw can easily fill a 4th line center role for 20-25 games and 10-12 minutes a night. That should keep Zus as fresh as you would hope for in the spring.

Look for Rozie to again platoon with Brookbank, or a Piggy who makes a splash/fills in for injuries (Stanton, Clendening, if Olsen can un-fuck himself, that sort of thing).

But mostly this will all be a test to see if Q is more interested this time in growing a roster through the season, with all the bumps that come with it, and sacrificing some points in the regular season for a better team when things count. Basically, he’s going to have to find his inner Popovich. With the new set-up, Western Conference teams don’t have to be balls out from jump street to get to the playoffs. Even if St. Louis doesn’t collapse as I hope (and half expect) and ends up winning the division, that’s hardly disaster. The Hawks would really have to try to finish any lower than 2nd. There’s room to play with here and try stuff if Q is so inclined. And we know he is.

  • Preacher

    Q spoke a lot last season of “rolling 4 lines” and all their depth, etc., etc. Hopefully, he will continue to go with that philosophy. I keep thinking he’s still learning, but then he puts Bollig in or something like that.

    • Why

      Here’s the problem, Chicago doesn’t look as deep going into the season at forward as they did during the last season. Frolik, Bolland and Stalberg are gone and their potential replacements are guys that didn’t crack the line up last year (Bollig excluded).

      • Waylon

        but isn’t one of the reasons why they didn’t crack the line up was precisely because of whom was in front of them at the time? At some point the young guys have to step up, and it’s now or never for at least a few of them.

        • Why

          No doubt. The expectation is that at least some of these guys step up and there’s nothing wrong with that expectation. All I’m saying is that things look a little bit different this year than they did last year.

          • Preacher

            True, but you’re also talking about 3 third or fourth line guys. We’re not looking to replace our top six. The main requirement will be hustle–and guys trying to get in the Show are going to go all out. I don’t think depth is going to be a problem once we figure out who those three guys are.

          • Why

            It’s the tough part though, right? What I’m seeing here is essentially that for long swaths of the regular season, Chicago should look to “replace” extra minutes for the top six (Sharp, Hossa, Handzus?) to keep guys fresh.

          • Preacher

            Which is why our depth continues to be such a strength. Last season, Bickell played most of the season on the third line, and then lit it up on the first line in the playoffs. Likewise, Saad was on the first line almost the whole year and then moved down in the playoffs. Zus is really a 4th line guy, but played (and played well!) in the playoffs at 2C. So, we’ve got interchangeable parts that can be effective just about anywhere in the lineup, with maybe 3 new kids coming in trying hard to make an impression. So I’m liking our chances (if Q uses his players well).

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        This is exactly the reasoning behind the salary cap. Don’t let them keep everyone.

        • Why

          I get the reasoning. The issue is what to do once you’re in the position the Blackhawks are. Do you depend on your stars to carry you or do you throw the new guys into the deep end?

  • Waylon

    I have hope that two or more of the pigs will step up during the pre – season and Q will have to play them in order to spell the others. I also have hope that Q has learned from that ill – fated season, and he’s shown in the past that he’s willing to change his MO (sometimes) if circumstances dictate. And if it’s and but’s are candided nuts, we’d all have a hell of a Christmas.

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    Re Rozsival and Brookbank … I also wonder how much of a look Kostka (a righty) will get and, to a lesser extent, Peckham. Kostka is hardly a third-pairing saviour, but he had some really good games with the Leafs last year, and only seemed to falter once he realized Carlyle planned to run him till his tank emptied. As a true third-pairing guy I could see him usurping Brookbank … and I think he also got a few PP minutes in Toronto.

    Anyway, add in the promise of Rockford, and I really don’t see any defensive group in the league that compares. There are good defensive teams out there, but our depth is unmatched. It’s going to be needed … coming off a short season, an Olympic year. There’ll be some banged up bodies.

    • putmeinthemadhouse

      totally forgot they signed kostka and peckham.

      peckham is more of a face puncher, but he would be suitable on the third pairing on a team like the hawks given he was…passable…on the oilers?

      • 334Rules

        If he’s a face-puncher, you can bet he’ll be Q’s darling.

        • Z-man19

          and replace Bollig?

          • rkeign

            (who replaced Fluffy)

          • Z-man19

            NO ONE replaces Fluffy, played F, D, PP and could clobber anyone, tough for one guy to replace all that

          • rkeign

            Geeez, let’s see what Stan can do to get him back then, heh?

          • Joe Banks

            Sounds like the plan all along.

    • Z-man19

      and let’s not forget all the sex, gonna be a looooooooong year

      • Preacher

        They did enjoy a tremendous amount of sex last year, but I’m sure the new players will help the old guys get a break from that this season.

    • Accipiter

      What I saw from Kostka was definitely better than what Brookbank put on display. I like your idea not Chico, get it to Q, stat.

  • VanDorp’sMullet

    Great call on Q finding his inner Popovich. Exactly the kind of coaching performance I’d like to see out of the Stache this season. Rest Hossa a shit ton this season (I wouldn’t even mind seeing him take a seat for a breather every now and then and play 70ish games) as well as Zus. Rotate Rosival with the 7th d-man dujour… basically I repeating what you said in your article. Ride some of the yoot and let them show their wares. Win-win deal.

    • https://www.facebook.com/rich.westerman.1 zookarama

      Huh. I thought he was referring to Paul Popovich, the Cubs utility man from the 70′s. Never mind.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        I loved Paul Popovich, but how bad did you have to be to be the Cubs Utility Infielder in the 70′s ?

        • https://www.facebook.com/rich.westerman.1 zookarama

          Pretty bad, I guess. But still better than Carmen Fanzone, who, as far as 1st basemen went, had great hair.

    • MoneyBoy

      A friend had an interesting idea. Tell Hossa *up front* that he will be rested every 5th game until the Olympics.

      I like Sam’s thoughts about both Zus and Rozie!!

  • Marian Brossa

    When the 2013 Hawks release their album, it will be called “Balls Out From Jump Street”

    • Preacher

      ANOTHER Christmas album by our guys? Didn’t they learn the last time?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR6mhS0KUq4

      • AMR

        Say what you want but it always makes me laugh

        • lizmcneill

          The best bit is Toews with the sweaters. He looks like he wants to murder all of BHTV. “Kill them all, I hate this. SO MUCH KILLING.”

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            How bad does Bick’s singing have to be for his spot to not contain him trying to sing? It’s not like anyone else carried the tune. Maybe it’s that when he sings, turtle doves die.

  • bizarrohairhelmet

    Still a better love story than Twilight:

    • lizmcneill

      I love his “wtf is this shit” expression.

      • bizarrohairhelmet

        I love the single stripe armband. By love I mean it makes this jersey more laughable than Team USA’s. Fake laces? Check. Shiny, bedazzled shoulder patch area? Check. Logo outlined in gold puffpaint? Check. Wait! Holy Shit! Asymmetric arm banding FTW??? Were these designed by an Orlando, FL trailer park manager while on maternity leave from getting her GED?

        • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

          Shut up. Big jerkface jerk.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            If it makes you feel better, the US armbands don’t go all the way around the arms. Stupid^3. I’m starting to think there is some traction behind the desire to kill jersey sales through bad designs theory. We aren’t exactly buddies with Russia at the moment and sticking them with an Olympics bill that will never realize an investment return would be a small part in the tit-for-tat battle.

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            sneaky cold warriors

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Are we done taking pictures, mom? Can I go play hockey now?

  • cliffkoroll

    Pretty funny story Sam. I laughed anyway.

    “First time I’ve ever been early for work! Except for all those ‘daylight savings’ days… lousy farmers!”

  • cliffkoroll

    2013: the Year of Urgency. And they fucking got it done, cuz awesomeness.

    2014: The Kids Are Alright, right? Let’s find out. Barring a bad stumble out of the gate, I expect this to be an extremely enjoyable season.

  • StealingHappyHour

    For me, this season (and maybe a portion of next) is all about Stan and Q figuring out which of these Hogs are eventually going to be Blackhawks. I see this year as live fire tryouts for Pirri, LeBlanc, Morin, Smith, Hayes and potentially even Stanton. Not all of these guys are going to be here a year or two from now if the widely held assumption that Danault, Teuvo and Clendening are all basically penciled in is true. (Sidenote: How cool is it that we’ll probably be a Stanley Cup contender in a year where half the forwards are basically in a evaluation year?)

    It’s going to be extremely helpful for Stan to know what 19 & 88 come in at next offseason. Once that happens, he’s going to be sitting pretty. He’ll know exactly what his parameters are and he should know a lot more about his prospect pool. I love that bald bastard.