NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets

And Off Silently

Yesterday was just about the last formal time that the Hawks’ brass meets with the media, barring a trade or something, and the players are not seen again until the Convention. I’m sure they’re heartbroken to not have to answer the same questions over and over again.

Usually at these season wrap-up things is when you find out all the injuries that players were carrying but weren’t talking about during the playoffs. There wasn’t much from the Hawks, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m sure there were some, Sharp especially, but I appreciate not running to that as an excuse. One of the hallmarks of Q’s teams is that they don’t run for excuses and generally take responsibility for everything that goes on (except for Q himself, of course).

-While it would have been nice for Stan Bowman to show up to his press conference and say, “Boy that whole Versteeg thing got shoved up my ass, huh?”, that was never going to happen. If only because you can’t throw a player under the bus if you’re hoping to move him along, which I’m not sure Bowman is. Same for Q,  who wasn’t going to bus-toss anyone either, though we may want him to.

Some of the comments regarding Jeremy Morin were somewhat interesting. Morin doesn’t have a lot of options as a restricted free agent, and I have no idea what the conversations between Stan and J-Mo have been. A moving along of Versteeg would certainly open up a spot for Morin. But his patience must be wearing thin. The thing is, he needn’t look any farther than Ben Smith to see how long it can take.

Smith came up in ’11 for a couple games, the end of the season and playoffs and then was something of a hero against Vancouver, capped with an OT winner in Game 6. And then Smith was in the wilderness for two years after that, barely getting a look while having excellent seasons in the A. It’s also worth remembering that when the lockout shortened season started, Smith had broken his hand. If he were healthy it isn’t not all that unfathomable that it would have been Smith to play on last year’s team instead of Saad, because Smith was having a better year with the Hogs than Saad was at that point. He certainly would have started with the team.

Morin has been in the organization exactly as long as Smith, and a pro for the same amount of time (though he’s younger as he didn’t go to college). Morin is only 23, and next year looks like the one he should finally get his chance. He probably should have already.

I can’t prove this, but I also believe that Bowman isn’t going to give up on Morin until he absolutely has to. Remember, Morin is the only non-pick piece he has left from the great Cap-purge of Summer ’10, and I doubt he wants that to pass without every avenue explored. But Stan can’t force Morin to be used by Q, of course.

I’m reminded of something Chris Block said on our podcast in March. And that’s the longer a player stays in the organization, the Hawks have a tendency to focus more and more on his faults than his pluses. Morin has already spent four seasons with the Hawks, and one of those was basically wiped away by a concussion. We know they thought he took too long coming back from that, which is why you saw him trying to fight everything in sight when he did come back. Maybe they think the skating isn’t quite there. I don’t know.

I’d like to think if J-Mo puts in the same effort over the summer that one Brandon Bollig did, people would notice. But I won’t hold my breath.

-Morin fits into a plan that I can see shaping up, and we’ll obviously get more into it as the summer goes along and especially when training camp begins.

This year, Q sent out a lineup that wasn’t the usual model. Instead of two scoring lines, one checking line, and a 4th line of grunts, Q used Bollig-Kruger-Smith as a checking line and had three scoring lines. As a theory, I’m totally about this. I’ve never understood that if you have the amount of skill, why not try it? However, having Bollig on that checking line made no damn sense.

But let’s just say Teuvo slots in on your second line next year (likely). You know Toews is up top. Your top six wingers are some combo of Hossa, Sharp, Saad and Kane. That leaves you Shaw, Bickell, Morin (if Versteeg is punted and he should be), Kruger, Smith possibly Nordstrom or one or two other kids/signings to make out the rest (yes, I’m purposely leaving Bollig out of this). You can certainly craft one checking line and one other line that can score out of that, especially if you can get an affordable signing to play center, say a Mikhail Grabovski or Jussi Jokinen or the like to push Teuvo to a wing or as a 3rd scoring center.

I think it’s a model within reach, but it needs the right personnel.

  • Peter Turner

    Like it or not, Dongballs is gonna be the enforcer for the next 3 years.

  • Captain Cornhole

    Saad-Toews-Kane
    Sharp-Teravainen-Hossa
    Bickell-Shaw-Smith
    Morin-Kruger-Nordstrom
    This seems like the most sensible with the current roster, although I’d love to see Danault and McNeill get looks at Center at some point as well. And of course Bollig will end up playing all 82 games again because it’s hard to get hurt playing less than 5 minutes a night.

    • Hags

      McNeill is a winger at his point, he played there almost exclusively this year, so he is not going to be a center option moving forward. I also believe Danault took some time at wing, but for sure completed the season at center.

    • ballyb11

      Re post that mid September. See how close.

      • ChicagoNativeSon

        Even if all those players were on the roster and Bollig gone, you’ll never ever see that f’d up lineup.

    • DJ

      Flip Shaw and TT, I think. That puts TT in perhaps a less-pressured setting, and enables him to get some early confidence against other third lines.

      • Jalamanta

        …or it sets him up to fail. If you’re going to throw him in the water, make sure he’s with someone who can swim.

        This whole concern about Teuvo’s defense is conjecture at this point anyway. We have no idea that they are concerned about it. If I recall, they seemed to be more upset that he wasn’t shooting more. which was later proven to be complete bunk anyhow. Let’s actually confirm that’s a concern before we run away with this awful narrative.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      More likely is…

      Sharpie – Cap – Panda
      Manchild – Shinpads – Kaner
      Bicks – Krugs – Agent Smith
      Morrin – Dragon Boy – Nordy / Bollig / a dead raccoon.

      • krome

        If TT is upshifted to 2C, he’ll need Hossa at RW instead of Kane. Kane is too much the same stylistically, and Q would want the extra size/defensive safety net Hoosa provides to cover for TT.

        • cza

          I agree. Kane needs to be with two people who grind/crash and make space, so assuming he’s handcuffed to Saad, that requires Toews or Shaw. Kane likes to dish as much as shoot so I have nightmares about TT-Kane passing up looks to make beautiful passes back and forth.

          Passing thought for the hive mind: do you think management is committed to Sharp finishing out his contract (2016-17; he’ll be 35), or do you think we’d shop him before his value declines? You could have a whole line of Bolligs for $6 million : p

          • birdhead

            There’s only another three years on his deal? Man, IDK, he had a great season last year but how long can he keep that up? Or, alternatively: is it possible to find a player to replace that kind of value? it’s one thing to say you can get three Bolligs for him but you can only dress 12 forwards …

          • cza

            The Bollig line was an angry joke. I don’t know that anyone who provides what Sharp has so far would be available at his price. But I was thinking more in terms of cap flexibility given that we’ve got some young forwards that need ice time, and we could probably stand to put some more money into defense. I know the cap is going up, but I expect Toews and Kane will take a serious bite out of the increase, even with a “we love the game and each other” discount. And Saad is going to require Sharp bucks.

            Sharp (Seabrook?) seems like the guy other teams would be most willing to take.

      • To Saad be the glory

        Bollig still makes it in over the dead racoon? Probably cause of that damn contract.

  • TitanTransistor

    Well, the three scoring lines, one checking line model was used to great effect in 2013 as well. Bickell-Shaw-Stalberg may have been conceived as a checking unit, but it wasn’t long before their ferocious forechecking and solid production caused them to get rolled out as a scoring line, leaving most of the heavy lifting as far as shut-down to Fro and Kruger on the 4th line (and Bolland, once he finally got busted down there). It’s a model that works well for the Hawks, provided they have the right personnel and play the right way.

  • chipandchase

    Anyone else feel that these write-ups tease possibilities that, due to their sound logic, will never happen?

    I’ll just prep for Versteeg at 2C coming out of camp…

    • jacquescloutier

      sigh. projected lineups look much better without bollig and versteeg, and really allow you to spread out the talent.

      quick eg:
      bickell / toews / morin*
      saad / shaw / kane**
      sharp / teravainen / hossa
      nordstrom / kruger / smith
      *don’t know if morin has spent much time on the off-wing, but i think bickell has spent a little
      **i know, odds we see this line out of camp are slim
      ***i know, i know. this is all pointless now.

      don’t know how you trade bollig. sending him down to the A still leaves you with half the cap hit, i think.
      versteeg seems a little more getridofable.

      also, interesting that morin was the first one stan mentioned when talking about some of the kids getting a shot next year. ‘just needs to be given the opportunity’, or something to that effect.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Steeger still has potential (not at 2C), but he needs to make better decisions with the puck, especially in his own zone and between the blue lines. That could be said to varying degrees of any hawk Forward not named Toews or Hossa.

      • lizmcneill

        Didn’t he do a brief stint centering Kane and someone?

      • birdhead

        Versteeg would be reasonable on this putative non-checking scoring third, right?

      • fat_tony_amonte

        Steegers potential has been realized. I’m sad to say, but I really believe his career arc is going in the wrong direction. He’s hesitant and clearly multiple steps slower.

        • I Remember The Roar!

          I could be wrong, but I seem to remember this blog (back when they were still on Second City Hockey) claiming that they believe Versteeg had peaked the year we won the cup, or the year before….

          Impressive!

    • I Remember The Roar!

      For all of the craziness that Q employs, one thing he doesn’t do with consistency is ice players that are defensive liabilities. This season, I think there was some loyalty employed with playing Versteeg, but unless he learns to take care of the puck, I can’t see him getting much playing time.

      But who knows!?

    • Joe Banks

      Oh lord… can Bollig play center?

  • Skags

    I really don’t understand why you’re purposely leaving Bollig out of this. First it was Scott, then Carcillo, and now Bollig. One thing you can count on is that Q or Stan or both like an enforcer on the roster. Q liked his presence so much that Bollig played all 82 games and several playoff games.

    There is no way Bollig should not be in the conversation. At this point, you may as consider him part of the core.

    I don’t agree with it, I don’t understand it, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s playing. Well, he’s dressing. He’ll play 5 minutes a game and absolutely be part of the line-up on a regular and consistent basis. Absolutely guaranteed.

    • ToucanStubbs

      It sucks because I am totally against the league getting rid of fighting but I would support them 100% if it meant we never had to see Bollig again.

    • ahnfire

      I violently object to having the name “Bollig” and the word “core” together in a positive sentence.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Bollig and corpse?

        • ahnfire

          Acceptable.

          • lizmcneill

            /Johnsson’d

      • SAMCRO Outlaw

        I couldn’t agree more & I think there is hope for burying him if not @ RFD then at least somewhere parking cars @ UC. I’m thinking about if Johns gets onto the NHL roster then he can handle any of the “tough guy” stuff & that frees up Q to put a legit fourth line on the ice that can play with some speed.

        • To Saad be the glory

          Is he even eligible to be sent back down anymore? cap geek says his hit is the same in the A as it is in the N,which makes me think he is on a one way contract at this point in his career

          • To Saad be the glory

            I’ll tell ya what…. I live less than 15 mins away from where the Hogs play. I would be ecstatic to go down there and take a picture of his happy ass skating on to the ice in a Icehogs uniform and post it here for everyone to enjoy. Heck I will even take my cell phone and record the cowbells bangin away when the hogs skate out and he starts circling the ice for pregame. Alas,I fantasize too much = )

          • birdhead

            you can send anyone down, one-way or two-way. After players have played a certain number of games they have to go through waivers before you send them down, and if they’re good you’ll lose them. Bollig was 23 when he signed his entry-level deal, has played more than 60 NHL games and it’s 3 years since that deal, so he would have to pass through waivers.

            I imagine the Hawks would have no trouble getting Bollig through waivers if they wanted to send him down. However, because he does have a (totally unnecessary i m o) one-way deal, he will be paid the same in the AHL as he is in the NHL, and part of that money will count against the cap. You can’t bury salary in the minors anymore; next year, any salary above $925k will count against the cap. Bollig’s horrawful deal will see him paid $1.25mil, so even in the AHL he’d have a cap hit of $325k. Which is fricking criminal and indicates to me that they won’t send him down because what’s the chance of some terrible team picking him up? Not, regrettably, much.

          • To Saad be the glory

            I figured there was no way in hell they would put him on waivers after signing him to that deal. What I meant by eligibility was a straight shot down w/o the waivers. The one way contracts always confuse me because in some instances,I cant figure out why they would pay someone the same amount in the minors as they would at the pro level.

          • birdhead

            After you’ve played a certain number of NHL games and met another couple criteria you have to be given a one-way deal. I’m sure Stan would like everyone on the roster to be signed to a two-way deal!

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

            Actually I think there was some purpose to the size of his deal. Everything you’ve said about waivers and cap hit are correct (I believe). But I think the purpose of the deal is that he’s marginal enough no one would claim him at a 1.25M hit, however, if he needs to be sent down (assuming he clears waivers) it only hits us for 325K. And while 325K is not chump change it’s not a bad as say sending Steeger down, theoretically

      • Joe Banks

        Bawahaha! … Barf!

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    From the other thread, WGN Sports (yeah, I know….) reported on the noon news show that Hammer, OD, and Shaw were hurt and probably would not have played in the finals, had we made it. Makes me wonder where they got their report.

    • YoAdrienne

      Q said in the press conference yesterday that Oduya was injured badly enough to miss the final. We already knew that Shaw was injured, He said he was playing with a leg brace. I didn’t hear Hammer’s interview, but I’m not surprised that he’s injured beyond the his throat injury.

    • birdhead

      No Hjammer or Oduya? So you’re saying it’s a miracle the Hawks pushed the Kings to seven? Holy crap, I don’t like to imagine the beat-down the Rangers would have employed on a defense consisting of Seabrook, Keith, Leddy, Roszival, Brookbank, and … uh … Clendening?

      • lizmcneill

        Sparky.

        • birdhead

          Johns? Dahlbeck???

          • lizmcneill

            Rundblad.

          • birdhead

            oh, *him*. I forgot about him. yeah, that would have been the guy I guess. lol.

          • lizmcneill

            I think Q did, too.

          • Joe Banks

            Every time someone says “Runblad”, I have to go to the bathroom… why is that?

        • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

          Maybe before the heart attack….

  • birdhead

    Even if we don’t leave aside Bollig, Bollig-Kruger-Smith was a reasonable regular-season checking line this year. It’s infuriating it went nowhere in the playoffs. Nordstrom-Kruger-Smith? Someone-Kruger-Smith to leave open Bollig rotating in there?

    • ruinedhnic

      My only issue with Smith staying on the checking line is that he proved himself to be incredibly versatile during this playoffs and seems like a prime candidate to be inserted into the top lines as needed (injury, slump, whatever). I think that a vacancy left on the third line would be a little easier for a rookie to step into than a vacancy left on the checking line, but I could be totally wrong there.

      Basically, I want someone on the checking line who Q has no temptation to put into the top lines. Fro… ;_;

      • birdhead

        That’s actually a good point but, equally, it’s going to be a balancing game, because a good enough player to make the fourth good is probably good in other ways … (Fro played at least a couple of games on the top line last season, I think when Hossa was injured?)

      • wowwowweewoo

        can’t remember who was out of the lineup, but Fro played on the top line for 2 games I think in last year’s run. Maybe against Detroit? He broke out for 3 goals as I remember it. One was a foreshadowing of the high tip that led to DFB’s cup clinching goal.

        • ruinedhnic

          Ah, I had completely forgotten that! I probably have that 4th line in my head as being a lot more untouchable than it actually was…

  • wanker751

    This all sounds great but will take stan taking roster by balls and giving q no option to be dumb….sadly I do not trust that

  • teuvosimple

    Seems like the tight-lipped nature of the organization about internal affairs necessitates people hypothesizing for themselves what is going on. Don’t understand why the assumptions are always so negative, and that doesn’t start or end with the Hawks. How many NHL teams are absolute train-wrecks in the eyes of the fans? Having been in upper management almost all of my adult life, I would hate to work for a company where the general manager was so disconnected from the office manager. Since most players seem to agree that the Hawks are a model organization, I can’t imagine the supposed dysfunctional nightmares portrayed are anything other than fans projecting their own fears.

    • Research Analysis

      Wonderful that fans have this outlet but your point is well taken.

  • Giamarino

    Is the podcast a thing I can download somewhere, or is more like the Kings/Hawks preview where it will randomly pop up as a story? Sorry, new to this…

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Yeah… NOW the Kings power play turns into Klown Shoes.

  • SAMCRO Outlaw

    I know that Stan said that he wasn’t looking to make any major moves, but Barry Rozner said that he knows they are going to shop Sharp. That doesn’t mean they are going to move him, but they are going to see what type of interest he generates.

    I think it’s also accepted that he’ll attempt to move Oduya to free up a spot for Dahlbeck.

    While Stan may say he’s not looking to make a major move, either of those would constitute a major move.

    Getting some fresh blood into the lineup is a necessity for next season and taking a small step back during the regular season in order to make a big leap forward for a Cup run is going to put Q in a position he isn’t all that comfortable with, but he’s not a HOF coach for nothing. I really think he gets that he’ll need to work a couple of these young guys into the lineup next year.

    • Bannerman

      Trading Sharp- the teams leading goal scorer- is not a major move?! I’m not saying it’s a terible idea or that it might not even be completely necessary but Sharp is a fan favorite and was a big part of 2 championships. He’s overshadowed by Kane and Toews but he didn’t make team Canada on his good looks whcih he obviously has. Trading Sharp would constitute a pretty major shake up.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      I love Sharpie, but shopping him does make a little bit of sense. He’s at the top of his value, It would free up some cap space for DDN / Saad, but not as much as you’d like, as you would HAVE to get value in return, maybe a 3C or a solid backup G, either of whom would rip into that perceived savings in cap space.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Kings fall behind 2-0. Tie it, and win in OT.

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

      They are the cockroaches of the NHL and will not just die!

    • The Nutbrown Hare

      Yes, I wanted to vomit after seeing this whole nightmare replayed yet again. I could just sense some crap goal was coming late in the first after NY was up 2-0. And damned if Clifford (I think it was him) didn’t do just that.

  • To Saad be the glory

    On a side note, R.I.P. Don Zimmer.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Probably arguing with St Peter right now.

  • rhodes

    I don’t hear much about Saad and his contract. He’s got 1 year left at roughly $800k (cap hit a bit less). You’ve got to figure he’s in for a big pay raise after that.

    Does Stan extend him now, or wait? After settling Kane and Toews (and Smith?), seems like the Hawks might not have much left under the cap to offer him now. If he has a monster year in 14-15, this could be an issue, no?

    • birdhead

      yes. huge issue. people talk about it all the time, it’s just that bc he’s RFA and due at the same time as Kane and Toews people are more interested in those deals. But I don’t think people are forgetting about it – yesterday someone was discussing the idea of a Saad offer sheet having the ability to really fuck with the Hawks if it came at the right time.

  • JB from PA

    Haven’t done the research on this but I guess there’s zero chance of getting Hagelin? Man that guy can fly and tenacious! Looks like hes got good hands too.

  • raditzzzz

    i actually think smith would have been up with the club in 2011, had he not gotten brained in the preseason.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P2wTEidNEE

    that set him back two seasons, but he was good enough earlier. his void opened up the possibility for shaw (at least it did in my head). and we all saw how shaw ran with that opportunity.