Couple of notes popping up the past day or so.
-Duncan Keith has dropped out of Team Canada, apparently to keep rehabbing or resting his knee that he had problems with last season. I think this is a good barometer of what these players think of the World Cup, where they sort of like it but they’re not risking much for it. If this were the Olympics I wonder what Keith would have done. And we’ll go more into the World Cup in September, but it feels like a real missed and biffed opportunity on the NHL’s part.
What’s more important locally of course is the condition of Keith. While Keith’s play didn’t really drop off from what we’ve come to expect, and he certainly benefitted from getting to play with Hjalmarsson the most, it was noticeable that he didn’t have quite the jump that he used to.
At this point in his career, Keith’s brain can certainly make up for the loss of a half or even full step. And that’s something he’s going to have to do anyway due to age. The problem for the Hawks is that they basically need Keith to be Keith, especially considering the state of the forwards right now. And it’s going to be even more vital if Seabrook does not return to anything resembling his top form.
If Keith’s knee is going to be a problem all season, whether he can’t be what we’re accustomed to seeing or he has to miss a handful of games to rest it, the Hawks’ outlook becomes a lot darker. Brian Campbell can only do so much and though he was taking on the toughest competition in Florida, in the West that’s a different animal. The Hawks need Keith and Hammer, or Keith and Seabrook, however it shakes out, to clear the way for Campell and TVR or Kempny below that to basically bum-slay. If Keith is merely playing his opposition to a standstill, that’s not really going to be good enough.
It’s quickly becoming the biggest question heading into the season.
-Now to Dave Bolland, who was traded today simply as cargo so the Panthers could get some cap space and the Coyotes could hijack some more young talent from another team. Bolland’s contract might be the worst in the NHL, which is saying something. And it may be that he doesn’t play again, as he’s struggling with some injury that no one can quite place as achilles or something else with his legs or his back again.
It’s sad for those of us who warmed ourselves up in the darkest days of 2006 by checking out Bolland’s junior stats. We didn’t know it was all Schremp-influenced then or that everyone scored 130 points for London. Toews and Kane hadn’t been drafted yet, Keith looked like he was at most going to be Eric Weinrich II and Seabrook an overwhelmed rookie. But at least looking what Bolland was doing in the OHL there was some flash of light on the horizon. The hope that things could actually get better one day, if we could just hold on a little longer.
It seems a waste with Bolland, because there was and maybe still is a really effective player there. Maybe his checking abilities were always overblown, as he played in front of a young Keith and Seabrook most of the time. But he had skills, and he had awareness. And he got rich, and he got two rings, so we can’t say he tossed it away. But he hurt his back once because he didn’t give a shit, and it’s hard not to assume that his newer injury problems are at least partially due to not giving a shit again after completely rehabbing his back. And there are other various other things he’s done that haven’t helped his career.
We still have the best memory thanks to him, so we can’t be too upset. But you feel like he didn’t have to settle for just that too.