Kukla's Korner Hockey
If I may steal a line or two from Sir Paul, Memory “Lane is in my ears and in my eyes…” These are some of my earliest and favorite Blackhawk memories.
The Program / Bobby Hull
My late Uncle Joe (and Godfather) attended a Hawks game during the 1968 - 1969 season. After the game he brought the program (a 65 page booklet which cost a quarter) to a bar near the old Chicago Stadium, where the players would hang out after the game. He got several Hawks to sign it, including, Phil Esposito (Yeah, we traded him) Stan Mikita, Wayne Maki, Pierre Pilote, Dennis Hull, and Bobby Hull. When The Golden Jet signed the book, he also went through all the pages signing every picture of him to “Vince, Best Wishes”. My uncle bought him a drink, which he of course accepted, and moved on. When it was Bobby’s turn for a round later on, he told the bartender “..and one for my friend Joe” When my uncle left the bar later that evening, Bobby yelled across the bar, “Thanks again for the drink Joe, say hi to your nephew for me.” (Btw, in the back of the program was an ad for the Chicago Basketball Bulls. Seats sold from $2. - $3.50. Court side seats could be purchased for a hefty $5)
Here’s one that should have you haters calling me a moron. Jonathon Toews won the TSN “Franchise Faceoff”. This was, for those of you who didn’t play along with it like me, a contest for all NHL fans to vote on. The concept was, who would you want to build a franchise around with current NHL players who are under 23 years old..The voting was set up in bracket form, single elimination style.
The talk about the 2011-2012 Hawks continues today with a new player. It is off season acquisition Andrew Brunette. Andrew, age 37 has paled 15 seasons in the NHL, the last 3 with Minnesota. He is a 6 ‘1, 210 pound left winger, who was originally drafted in the 7th round back in 1993. On Monday, August 8, he was introduced to the Chicago media. Here are some excerpts.
When asked about his age and never being the fleetest of foot he responded,
Once again, since it’s the off-season I am taking a player or two each blog and discussing last year’s performance while looking forward to this season.
Today let’s discuss Marian Hossa. Last season was an interesting one for The Hoss. A donut season, if you will. It started great, ended good, but had nothing in the middle. I remember the beginning of last season, Hossa started off with a goal a game for the first 8 games and several assists thrown in there. Coming off the Stanley Cup victory, I was, for one, a little worried how he would perform. The Cup hangover is a concern with all players, but especially with him. Everyone knows the story of him losing out in the Finals the two previous years with Detroit and Pittsburgh. However, the way he came out of the gate was a real nice surprise. What unfortunately wasn’t a surprise were the injuries.
I you have been following this blog (by the way, comments from people other than Red Wings fans are also welcome) you know that I’ve been taking a player or two and giving my thoughts on them. The “Player by Player” series, if you will. Well here’s another.
Let’s tackle the Boy Wonder, Patrick Kane. I’ve never doubted the ability of this Number 1 Draft Pick, or his talent. I will remember his unusual overtime goal in Game 6 against the Flyers forever. However, he seemed to be riding that glory a little last season. I don’t know what’s in a guys head, not to mention it’s been a long time since I’ve been that age, but that’s the feel I got. One thing for sure, the honeymoon is over from the ‘10 Cup and I think Kaner knows it. For one, he is a little older - maturer, I would say yes, judging from his comments and attitude at the HAWKS Convention. His dedication, although always there, seems to be more focused.
With not a real lot to talk about before the pre season starts, (that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseam) I thought I would take a couple or more players each blog and give my thoughts on them, hopefully inspiring you to share yours. You can speculate all you want on what might happen in the upcoming season – no one is wrong until it happens, and usually by then, everyone forgets what you predicted. I prefer to watch and comment on the current, not guess on what might be. Either way, here we go.
Let’s start with Jonathon Toews. Good old (young) Captain Serious.
I must admit, I was starting to get a little worried about Patrick Sharp going into his final year without a contract. But now, I can put my worries else where. The HAWKS and Sharpie have come to term on a contract extension. Although I could not find any details yet on the official Blackhawks website, the deal, as reported by WSCR, The Score radio station in Chicago, will be 5 more years at roughly $5.9 million. This, of course, will not take effect until the 2012 - 2013 season.
However, according to the Hawks website:
“Sharp, 29, paced the Blackhawks and shared eighth in the National Hockey League with 34 goals, and ranked third on the club with a career-high 71 points (34G, 37A) in 74 regular-season contests during the 2010-11 campaign. He also finished second on the team with three goals and added two assists in seven games during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and was honored as the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.”
As I have mentioned before, the only real shocking resigning to me this off season was that of Viktor Stalberg. I remember saying, “I wonder where Viktor will play next year.” immediately after the season. He basically added nothing to the team offensively (especially after the game where his shot hit the post, the crossbar, and other post -weird indeed- and did not go in) He also had a few mental errors down the stretch that costs us goals. Don’t get me wrong, when he first joined the Hawks, I thought with his speed, he was a great acquisition. One of the few pluses in the off season, salary cap dumping, post Cup, I thought.
Sometimes it seems like some of my friends who are Blackhawks fans aren’t happy unless that are worried about something. “Sure Corey Crawford did a great job and won the goal tending job but what about his back up?”
Relax and wait is my approach. Yes, it’s always nice to have a veteran back up, but at what price tag? There is also the factor of diminishing skills (which we saw with Marty Turco last year) When some goalies lose it, it seems to go over night. What good is having some one who is just a “name” and nothing more. Currently, Salak is listed as the number two. I’ve never even seen him play, so let’s see what he’s got.
Looking down to the AHL we have Alec Richards (I’ve gone to a few Ice Hogs games with him between the pipes and wasn’t really impressed) and Hannu Toivenen.(spell check had fun with this one). Both are younger talents, I know, but not your experienced pro.
Veteran back up goalies are like veteran back up quarterbacks in the NFL. As training camp winds down, there are always a couple let go in favor of youth. I say we let camp play out, and see what we got first. Then let’s see what becomes available. Of course, if Crawford gets hurt in the preseason, you can call me a moron (which people do anyway no matter what you write).
I was looking at the Hawks upcoming schedule for this season. My usual checking out what “must see” games are out there before single game tickets go on sale. Every year when I do this, the same thought comes to mind. Why can’t the Original 6 teams play each other at least once during every season? The Original 6 teams, for “all you young hockey players out there” (thanks Edzo) are, the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Would it be that hard to arrange the schedule every year to do so?
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com