Entries with the tag: Chicago Blackhawks
In ten years, I’m guessing that NHL inflation wouldn’t have accelerated to a point where $5 million is an average salary. In other words, it’s still going to be a premium price for a premium player.
Knowing that, the Chicago Blackhawks, the king of the bizarre long-term contract, are poised on signing Duncan Keith for a lucky 13 years. He’ll be 39 at the end of the deal.
Maybe they figure 40 is the magic number, or maybe this was the only way the could re-sign Keith at a cap hit that fit ($5.5 million). Of course, if they never put forward the insane Brian Campbell contract, none of this would have happened.
ith a big Game 5 looming around the corner, it seems like Hawks fans are ready to throw Brian Campbell and his mega contract to the wolves. Some pretty nasty stuff is being said; some are calling it the downfall of Dale Tallon while others simply just throw out expletives. You’d think that Campbell is the worst thing to wear red and black since The Master in Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Let’s take a step back here. So Campbell’s not the second coming of Nick Lidstrom or Scott Niedermayer…is that actually surprising? Yes, Campbell’s one of the highest paid defensemen in the league, but Dale Tallon even admits that he overpaid for Campbell to make a splash in the suddenly hot Chicago marketplace.
On XM Home Ice this morning, a Blackhawks fan called in to talk about how he wanted to face the Red Wings in the conference final. As an aside to that, he went on about thanking Rocky Wirtz and company for reviving the team.
This got me to thinking: what if Bill Wirtz was still running this team? Since his death hasn’t really changed the on-ice product (GM Dale Tallon has acquired all of Chicago’s key pieces through drafting, trades, and signings), so it’s really about off-ice perception. The one area where that might be different is with Brian Campbell; while Tallon knew Campbell was a talented puck-moving defenseman, he basically acknowledged overpaying him as a means to keep market momentum going.
So let’s say that theoretically, the Hawks reproduce this on-ice success but have done it under the black cloud of Bill Wirtz. That means no local TV of home games, no bringing back legendary players, no Blackhawks Convention, and probably no Winter Classic. Last season, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews probably would raised an eyebrow for the Chicago sports public but nothing more—after all, the non-playoff Hawks probably would have been viewed as the same old, same old.
Did you know there was a point before the Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era when Chicago still cared about hockey at the United Center? Yes, for the first part of its existence, the United Center version of the Blackhawks were still the run-you-over-and-score team led by Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios. A lot of people tend to forget it, mostly because it was more than ten years ago and so many bad memories came between then.
The phrase “Remember the Roar” was used to celebrate the old Chicago Stadium when that old barn finally met its time. The Roar, a bone-shaking collective cheer that started at the national anthem and remained raucous throughout the game, was transplanted to some degree over at the United Center before the franchise committed PR suicide by letting go all of its popular players and bringing in poor replacements. (Anyone remember Michal Grosek?) Any roars that came during that period were probably due to a Zamboni malfunction more than anything else.
There was, however, one bright moment in the decade or so between the JR/Cheli teams and the current Kane/Toews squad. However, it goes to show you that it’s just playoff games the city really cares about, it’s the players and the organization. Otherwise, why would have the successful 2002 season been so dismal for the Hawks?
With the Chicago Blackhawks flying high (literally and figuratively) in the post-Bill Wirtz revival starring Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, I thought it’d be a reasonable time to take a quick look back at one alternative timeline for the Chicago Blackhawks. Younger fans, after all, may not realize that they missed out on an NHL titan back in the early/mid-90s—a team that really could have been even better.
Stanley Cup winners are often built around a strong pair of centers. In the 1990s, Mario Lemieux had Ron Francis, Steve Yzerman had Sergei Fedorov, and Joe Sakic had Peter Forsberg. As good as the Chicago Blackhawks were during the early/mid-90s, they only had one top-flight center in Jeremy Roenick.
However, they sure came close to getting one. In this alternate timeline, we’ll assume that all feasible trades and drafts were made in 1992 - 1994, except with one big change: Eric Lindros came to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Longtime Blackhawks fans – those with memories that can stretch from at least Ed Belfour – fondly recall a dirtsheet/newsletter/gossip rag called The Blue Line. As a Hawks fan growing up in San Jose, I’ve never actually seen one of these, just heard about their mythical status while chatting about the Hawks on old Usenet forums back in the mid-90s.
While writer/lawyer Mark Weinberg (author of Career Misconduct, the scathing take on Dollar Bill Wirtz) doesn’t put out The Blue Line anymore, a few fellows over at Second City Hockey are reviving the tradition with The Committed Indian. It’s a combination pre-game program, The Onion-style satire, and awesome statistics (e.g. Hawks record when the PA plays PJ Harvey: 0-0-0, Hawks record when Toews tries to hard: 3-3-2). You can preview the inaugural issue from a few weeks back here.
For tonight’s issue, the Committed Indian folks have asked me to provide some commentary (f-bombs allowed) about the Sharks. You can pick up your copy outside of the United Center at tonight’s Hawks/Sharks game.