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.