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Exit Interviews: Brandon Bollig

And now that we’re done with the defensemen, it’s on to the forwards. And since I’ve already written more words about Brandon Bollig this season than he’s written in his entire life, what better person than myself to undertake this massive duty. Buckle up.

Regular Season: 82 games, 7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points, -1, 0.947 Behind The Net Rating, 2.19 Corsi per 60 (-12.5 Corsi Relative per 60).

Playoffs: 15 games, 0 goals, 1 assists, 1 point, -6, 0.043 Behind The Net Rating, -28.88 Corsi per 60 (-28.2 Corsi Relative per 60)

What We Liked: Not really anything. Sure, he’s got a wicked shot and besides being able to be repeatedly punched in the face, it’s the only reason why he gets to be part of the NHL. But hey, he did score 7 goals this year which is 7 more than he’s ever scored before. Of course, he also fired pucks towards the net when possessing the puck may have lead to a better scoring opportunity but I’m getting ahead of myself now.

What We Didn’t Like: Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Bollig put together a really fantastic pre-season which is as impressive an achievement as a toddler learning to wipe his/herself after shitting. Unfortunately for us, (and the Hawks) that was all Joel Quenneville needed to see to justify his presence in the lineup every. damn. game.

Bollig scored his first NHL goal on opening night against the Capitals and for a brief stretch of the season, he, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith were a very good 4th line. But as tends to happen with below replacement level players, the stretch of good play ends and things go back to the way nature intended. What was mostly brushed aside was how good Kruger and Smith were playing to keep Bollig afloat from the Olympic break until the end of the regular season.

Instead of rotating different players into the 12th forward role like Jeremy Morin or Joakim Nordstrom or Peter Regin or the ghost of Mike Peluso along with Bollig, Joel Quenneville elected to continue dressing Bollig.

And really this is where my biggest beef lies. In years past, I’ve never really had a problem with guys like Ben Eager, Adam Burish or Dan Carcillo in the lineup for a couple reasons. One, those guys could play on a scoring line in a pinch and they all did with varying levels of success and two, Joel Quenneville seemed to understand their shortcomings and had no problem shifting them in and out of the lineup at will. Hell, for all the shitstorms I pirated for John Scott dressing during his Blackhawk tenure, at least he never played all 82 games!

Brandon Bollig cannot play in any other role than his current one. 4th line, no special teams duties and no ability to win a face-off.

Yet, he’s treated like the offspring of Neifi Perez and Shawn Thornton who brings all sorts of different intangibles that helped lift the spirits of the actually talented Blackhawks to play better.

Making matters worse, at the midway point of the season for reasons that have never really been answered, Stan Bowman turned around and gave him a 3-year extension with more than a 50% raise. Would he have gotten that on the open market? Probably. There are plenty of idiotic general managers out there that overvalue truculence, post-game high fives and hate-tweeting Blackhawks fans on the Internet.

But we all have been led to believe the Hawks had a general manager that valued advanced statistics and analytics to help him make sound and logical decisions, not meaningless bullshit. Alas.

Just to prove I’m not a total HATER, I think I could’ve lived with a 1 or 2 year extension. It’s that 3rd year that makes absolutely zero sense to me.

Then in the playoffs, even as it was apparent to everyone with an unbiased opinion, Bollig was continually dressed in the playoffs. So instead of getting Jeremy Morin or Peter Regin into a rhythm in the playoffs, they were often dressed mid-series and were mocked as saviors by the unwashed. Then when they didn’t instantly score three goals on their first shift, they were loaded and launched to Jupiter in the Quenneville cannon.

It wasn’t until Bollig was suspended after Game 4 against Minnesota where Peter Regin was able to get comfortable with his role and the Hawks were able to play 4 lines for the first time in the playoffs. They won those two games and then Regin was immediately scratched upon Bollig’s return in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Hawks were one goal away from repeating as Stanley Cup Champions. And in that do or die game, Brandon Bollig played 2:28. 2 minutes and 28 seconds. How can anyone with a right mind not believe if the Hawks played someone that was just capable of being trusted with 9 minutes, the outcome wouldn’t have been different against Los Angeles?

You’re right. Even Arkham’s Asylum’s longest tenured tenants think that’s batshit crazy.

So in conclusion, Bollig takes bad penalties (how did I not mention that until now?), can’t be trusted with more than 5 minutes of ice time when the games matter, doesn’t score, can’t possess the puck because he’s too busy being a GLORY BOY and shooting even when he has a .00001 chance of scoring, isn’t quick enough to chase down the puck and takes away opportunities from people in his organization that could all do better than him.

Sounds like a keeper to me.

What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here: Great question. In one corner, there seems to be a split camp that believe Bollig will be properly launched at the upcoming draft or next year’s trade deadline (which is where I’ve been leaning). In the other, there are those that have resigned themselves to the fate that Bollig will play out the rest of his contract with the Hawks while playing all 246 regular season games.

If we look at this logically, there really seems to be no room for Bollig. Morin will definitely get a shot next year to lock down a top 9 role, Peter Regin hasn’t been ruled out to return yet, Joakim Nordstrom will make the team if he has a camp as strong as last year and add that in with the likely arrival of Terravainen, whatever other offseason acquisition is made and anyone else from Rockford that makes the jump this summer, it’s hard to see how Bollig fits in anywhere. Though, we all said these exact same things last year and he ended up netting himself a 3 year contract extension because he tried really hard during the preseason.

If he comes back next season, he cannot play in all 82 games again. Certainly not on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. As a 22nd guy on the roster, he’s serviceable. He could possibly give the team a jolt when needed, may (and I use the term “may” very loosely) provide some type of protection against the St. Louis Blues of the world and is an ok guy to punch in and out of the lineup when certain guys need to be sat down.

What he can’t be is what he was this year because we all saw how that turned out and it would only get worse.

In a perfect world, he’d be out of our lives and someone else’s problem. In a logical world, we’d get a straight answer as to what he does that justifies his place on a team that preaches puck possession, scoring goals and disciplined play. In an unfair world, Brandon Bollig continues to lock down a roster spot on one of the most talented teams in the league and hold back players that are 10 times more talented than he’s ever been.

We all know how this ends.

 

  • http://www.nosqldatabases.com Derek Stainer

    Couple thoughts about the contract. First, totally agree 2 year max would have been preferred. Second, I believe the comparable was Ryan Reeves (that should make you pause right there, but…) so it’s inline with his contract (not saying its right just inline). Third, it can still be jettisoned to the Rock with only a $425K hit to the cap, not ideal but you still are able to make room if necessary. His contract is “waiver” proof if you will, as not many other GMs especially on the crappy teams are going to take him on.

    I don’t think there’d be as much angst about Bollig if he would have just been stapled to the press box during the playoffs, as he would have “served” his role during the regular season of helping get the Hawks to the playoffs in one piece.

    • I Remember The Roar!

      I don’t have a problem with Bollig so much as how Bollig was used. His imperfections are those of a typical fourth liner, and I think there are MANY players that could have done the job as well or better. But had he been sat in the playoffs, I wouldn’t mind. Recently, we’ve had the 6-7 D-man (Brookbank and Rozie) – I wouldn’t have screamed to loudly if Bollig was the 12-13 forward, but I would have rather seen a kiddo.

      Anyway, we’ll see how things go, and hopefully we can end up with a roster that can be trusted when the heat’s turned up!

    • fromheretoinfirmary

      Well said.

  • TKHO

    This was more entertaining than many of the Puck Daddy eulogies. Couldn’t agree more with your thoughts.

  • Jalamanta

    Bollig is the first enforcer the ‘Hawks have had in a long time that not even the meatballs will go to bat for. He’s poisoned the water.

  • Brain Sprain

    It’s an unfair world boys and girls. Cowboy up and hold on when Bollig is announced as the new 2nd line centre.

    • bigtreina

      I’d go as far as saying Bollig will get more TOI next year and it’ll be Morin/Regin on the short leash (2-5 TOI per game). Q loves his St Louis boys.

  • Harry Longwood

    Maybe Stan gave him a raise to use him as trade ballast for another contract (Oduya) he plans to move.

    pleasepleasepleaseplease

    • raditzzzz

      lol, i like that idea.

  • SAMCRO Outlaw

    FF hit it right on the head with using Eager, Burish, & even Carcillo as comparables for the role; but they all had one common denominator that escapes bollig, they could all bring speed to the game. Burish could kill penalties, Eager and Carcillo could both play throughout the lines in a pinch and when focused both were ok. Whatever I’m not going to harp about Q’s trailer park kid’s hockey ability today.

    I think we are stuck with him for the foreseeable future because it was reported recently that he bought himself a condo. I doubt he would do that without some assurances that he wasn’t getting jettisoned to Moose Jaw. So my hope is that he spends this summer juicing whatever PED’s he needs to get his fast twitch muscles to actually fast twitch. If he can skate at the NHL pace and be leashed to his side of the ice then maybe he can be of use. Otherwise the only hope is he hits a star like Sid and gets suspended for life.

    • OMFS88

      So much deer antler spray that it makes his head spin

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

    Okay, yes, it’s Bollig. But not one single reference to the way Q used him in the regular season (highest percentage of d-zone starts of all Hawk forwards, and yet a positive Corsi) … and the success he had in that role? Seems disingenuous. Now, he couldn’t handle the same role in the playoffs, obviously, and that’s clearly worrisome.

    Second, take a look at contract comparables on Capgeek … this is what EVERYONE is paying for this player. So the salary is in fact market value.

    And last, I’m all for a complete ban on fighting, I hate it. But as long as there are fights, teams need fighters. Who is our fighter in the absence of Bollig?

    I don’t care. I’m just as happy if Bollig is gone next season, but the amount of emotion spent on him simply boggles my mind.

    • raditzzzz

      duh, much like dunc and seabs, smith and kruger’s performance obviously overinflated his numbers. imagine their numbers without him, would’ve been over 9000. it would’ve been like wolverine’s healing factor not needing to compensate for all the adamantium.

      • birdhead

        Unlike with Seabrook, there is actually some good evidence of the latter proposition. Specifically what happened to Bollig when he played 45% of the time with Kruger and Smith, instead of 80% of the time with them.

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

        I realize Bollig isn’t the fundamental key to that line’s success. But my argument for his worth–not his greatness, his worth–isn’t just that.

        People talk about roster positions as though there’s an inexhaustible fount of bodies to fill them.

        • raditzzzz

          im just joshin anyways. im mostly annoyed with how bollig “plays” the body. mostly his borderline hits, and that 90% of the time his checks take himself out of the play.

    • Black JEM

      We have discovered that Smith can play and Kruger finally learned how to take a faceoff. Bollig’s Corsi stats in this case I believe are more a factor of who he played with than he himself. It doesn’t pass the eye test. He has no business eating the cap space he is eating when other players for similar money could fulfill his role in the lineup more capably. He was never better than any other forward – with the exception maybe of Brookbank who is a defenseman. Bollig was not good defensively and made stupid turnovers on a regular basis.
      I assume he has pictures of Stan and Q in a hotel room on the road. There is no other explanation.

    • Black JEM

      One thing to add. We lost in OT of game 7 to go to the Cup finals. The teams were very evenly matched. Yes, would have been nice for Crow to have a better series – but to deliberately put a skater on the ice who puts you at a disadvantage against any other skater your opponent can suit up is conceding something. We decided to not put our best squad on the ice – and that is unforgivable. I think that is worthy of emotion being spent.

      • Joe Banks

        Well said. When I realized Bollig and Versteeg were dressed for game 7, the little voice in my head began to cry…

      • HossasPierogi

        Absolutely. And anyone who saw a Kings playoff game live can describe the utter terror of seeing Bollig on the ice and how that automatically shifted the advantage to the Kings. We looks even worse live.

    • Bannerman

      Chico is absolutely right on all points here. When they had Scott, Q said that if they didn’t have Scott they’d be looking for someone like him. The Hawks are going to carry a guy like this whether we like it or not. They could, and recently have, done much worse than 13-14 Bollig (2012-13 Bollig or any version of John Scott for example)

      In defense of Bollig, he made strides this season. Until he signed the extension, then I think he got complacent. Since we’re likely stuck with him anyway, I’m hoping he can maybe show some work ethic and be the best Dongballs he can be- even if that’s a totally replaceable 4th liner.

    • cliffkoroll

      Yup to regular season minutes-eater.

      But no fighting in playoffs. And game 7 OT? I’m not saying it would have made the difference, but you wanna put your best foot forward in such a razor-thin situation.

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

        I realize there’s no fighting in the playoffs–a big reason, I agree, not to ice a fighter, or at least someone who’s only a fighter.

        I’m not even convinced Bollig is the best regular season answer, but people talk about this guy worse than they talked about John Scott, it’s hilarious in my opinion.

    • birdhead

      make Morin do it. they’re always getting in fistfights in the A. (Note: I don’t actually think Morin should do it. i don’t think ANYONE should do it. But if you have to have someone, why not make it Bollig but just not dress him every damn game and the duration of the playoffs? rotate him with someone who might actually score a goal.)

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

        Morin would die; fights here aren’t the same shindig. Like I say, I’m 100% behind a total ban on fighting, but until there is teams need a guy to do it. Point taken about the playoffs, though, Bollig couldn’t cut it there.

        • birdhead

          LA has guys who do it (Colin Fraser), but they are distinguishable from Bollig by them *not dressing every game*. Just like Bollig didn’t used to.

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

            Fraser’s barely a regular anymore (maybe injury, though, dunno). But Kyle Clifford is, he’s more their fist guy.

            I don’t really want to be the resident Bollig Lover, so I won’t go back and forth here. I just think his relevance to this team’s success isn’t worth a fraction of the bile he generates, especially if you look at his use with a more balanced eye. I don’t always have a balanced eye, but I do think I might be closer in this particular case.

            If people wanted to dwell only on his playoff performance you wouldn’t hear much of an argument from me.

          • birdhead

            I mean, I think Bollig gets a lot of crap because we just don’t have that many actual problems, right? Stanley Cup, Western Conference Final, some of the best young players in the league, some of the best veterans in the league, there just aren’t that many places to point the finger.

            I think for me the playoff performance ties into the regular season thing, and also into the relevance to the team’s success thing. In the regular season, I really came around on the way Bollig was being used. I absolutely think that line’s success helped drive the team’s success. Now in the playoffs, Bollig doesn’t affect the team’s success that much in a negative way, because Q is a smart guy and doesn’t play him that much in the playoffs. But he doesn’t have the positive impact of being on that line, either. However, Q doesn’t have any choice but to dress him because he doesn’t have that many experienced guys. And he doesn’t have that many experienced guys because of the minutes Bollig is getting in the regular season – unless there’s someone else at forward you’d like to scratch from time to time, but barring injuries, maybe I’m a homer, I like the Hawks forwards a lot and I’m not sure there are people in the system that replace them.

            So to say well he only sucks in the playoffs, complain about that – right okay, but he would suck less in the playoffs if he played less in the playoffs, but he’ll only play less in the playoffs if he’s not such an important tool in the regular season.

          • Black JEM

            I don’t disagree. But there are better regular season options as well. If you want him as the 23rd guy who gets 30 games a year – fine. But that means he is still paid too much and playing him every regular season game and any playoff games is an injustice. It is an easy miss to avoid and Q went deep into the well anyway.
            I don’t care how little our real problems are. He helped cost us a SC final appearance. And his placement in the roster every night prevented a better player (and there are a number of them) – albeit some with less NHL time – to develop to the point they could have been a factor when it mattered.

      • http://www.nosqldatabases.com Derek Stainer

        Morin I believe has had concussion issues, I’d much rather have him scoring goals than having his head get scrambled

        • birdhead

          yes he has (although I’d be shocked if Bollig hasn’t as well, not that he will ever go on record admitting it). I agree with you, him fighting would be a pretty terrible idea.

    • Bob Lanz

      Only because you think the fourth line doesn’t matter. Smith and Frogger are better with an actual hockey player… Don’t you agree?

  • Jim Peterson

    I can’t…I mean there’s noth…in short, you said it all….

  • HossasPierogi

    I don’t think Q should be fired (due to his other redeeming qualities) but I think his use of Bollig over better players was coaching malpractice and a firable offense. I think many Hawks fans understand deep down that Q’s stubbornness on this matter cost us the Cup — there’s no other way to say it. When a bounce decides a series, Regin over Bollig would have given us the bounces we needed.

  • jordyhawk

    Stan made two obvious mistakes last year. Resigning Bollig and getting Versteeg. It will be interesting to see if he does anything about them because, let’s face it, the fourth line (or lack of) hurt us in the end.

  • TitanTransistor

    Fantastic article. Bollig’s continued employment and usage by the Blackhawks management is a real black mark against this supposedly ‘model’ and progressive organization. He has no place in a Hawks sweater.

    • Yachtsman

      Sometimes I wonder how much influence Q has on Stan Bowman. Q loves Bollig so much as his security blanket that SB is compelled to extend him. And Q’s impatience with the youngsters on the wing leads to bringing back an old favorite in Versteeg, even though he was damaged goods. I can hear Q saying “get me someone who I can trust…these kids are driving me nuts”.

      Think of it, there were three regular forwards in Bollig, Versteeg and Handzus who just weren’t cutting it. That’s a body count of 1 entire line that took away development time for some of the so called highly touted youngsters. That makes me just shake my head in amazement.

  • BestPredsForward

    I’m a White Sox fan: Can someone explain the Neifi Perez reference please?

    • hauss

      Neifi sucked. Dusty loved Neifi. Neifi played a lot.

  • Korab22

    I’d have to say that’s a pretty fair assessment of Bollig’s season. Credit given for a surprisingly good stretch of games (hell, might have been a couple of months there) but also recognition of his rapid reversion to the mean at the end of the season and into the playoffs.

    This is going to sound funny, but I thought Bollig looked tired at the end of the year. The guy was being asked to play a shut down role. It was something he had never done before. Perhaps the minutes and pressure caught up to him. Maybe some nagging injuries as well. The whole idea of playing him 82 games was always stupid from a talent perspective, but general wear and tear may have been an issue as well. A 50 games a year Bollig is probably better than an 82 games a year Bollig.

  • Oldfarthawkfan

    I hope StanBo is looking at Daniel Winnick who was just cut loose from Anaheim. He would make a perfect 4th line winger with Kreuger and Smith.

  • Joe Banks

    Alas, poor Bollig. So misunderstood.

    • birdhead

      I knew him, Horatio.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Grit….

  • OMFS88

    I’m on board with this whole post but do not understand/remember where the “hate-tweeting Blackhawks fans on the Internet” thing is coming from. Can someone bring me up to speed?

    • mightymikeD

      He has regularly referred to “haters” in tweets, posted that image above after his return from suspension (?) and got into a Twitter slanging match (since deleted) with our buddy John after a very negative review of his lack of skill on CtA.

  • Jim

    He adds toughness to the linup. Protects Kane.

  • Bob Lanz

    82 fucking games and I still can’t believe it. This reason alone is justification for questioning Q. Then there is the ridiculous contract extension that also justifies questioning Stanbo… Why why why

  • Jacqueass

    Paging Dale Tallon…

  • Nat

    Bollig didn’t fight enough. Us fans that like physical hockey and you pancy passifist who want to turn hockey into soccer both agree we could have a better enforcer than Bollig. Brian Mcgratton would be great from calgary. Oh i wiss Ryan Vandenbussche was 20 years younger he would have thrived in todays nhl with his speed as a checker.