As I watched on Monday night while Jonathan Toews returned to action and helped lead the Hawks to victory, a story came to mind. This tale has been around but awhile back it was confirmed for me by someone who is a reliable source and was close to the situation.
Many people credit Dale Tallon for being a huge part of the Blackhawk rebirth which led to a Stanley Cup victory, and justly so. The cornerstone for the Hawks rebuilding process was Toews, who was chosen by Tallon in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
As the story goes the Hawks captain almost never made it to Chicago. If Bill Wirtz would have had his way Toews probably wouldn’t be a Blackhawk. Fortunately for Hawk fans Tallon wouldn’t budge on his strong opinion of Toews.
Others in the organization wanted to draft Phil Kessel when the Hawks were to select third. Tallon wouldn’t be swayed by those who preferred the flashier Kessel. The lure of a big goal scorer and increased ticket sales were most likely the reason for their preference.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Tallon’s biggest accomplishment was selecting Toews. If he backed off and made any other choice the Stanley Cup would not be in Chicago today.
No disrespect to Kessel, but if all 30 general managers voted the overwhelming preference would be Toews. Actually Kessel would probably receive one vote by default, and the other 29 would go to the Hawks’ captain. Toews makes everyone better and has an overwhelming will to win which is not often found even in the finest players.
Look no further for confirmation as to the difference Toews makes when absent from the lineup. When Toews is out injured the Blackhawks are a dismal 9-17.
Onto LA and beyond…
The Blackhawks put together the most impressive 40 minutes of hockey in quite awhile and captured a well deserved victory in Los Angeles. Leading the charge were the best players, those who must be counted on to bring their “A” game every night.
It won’t be very long before Blackhawk fans have a good idea if their favorite team will have a firm shot at a playoff birth. The overriding question is whether the team can consistently play the correct style of play without committing costly turnovers and taking poor penalties.
After the opening period in LA the Hawks displayed the correct style against the Kings.Goals were scored by going to the net and individual battles were won. At this point mistakes won’t be tolerated as Joel Quenneville has a healthy roster for the first time in quite awhile.
Although the season is half over Hawk players are still searching for the correct balance.
Some players still try to do too much, or forget the game situation. Their inexperience shows at times and mistakes can’t always be absorbed.
For example, Jack Skille shouldn’t turn over the puck inside the opponent’s blueline late in a period of a close game. Skill made an ill advised play and before one could blink Ryan Smyth scored and the Kings evened the game at two. That could have been a crushing goal but the Hawks bounced back…This time.
Skille should know better and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was given another night off. Quenneville won’t tolerate mistakes and now he can sit players if need be. The Hawks head coach can’t afford to be patient any longer.
A bright spot for this season has been Corey Crawford.
The young goalie will have to stay solid for the Hawks to make the playoffs. He has shown the ability to bounce back from poor goals and appears very confident. Crawford should help the Hawks win games they shouldn’t as every point will matter. Crawford will also help absorb some of the miscues.
The Dallas Stars can play a gritty game with speed and skill. Tonight the Hawks will need a complete effort to start the four game homestand off with a victory.
Quenneville is hoping from now on mistakes will be limited, and he’s glad Tallon didn’t change his mind.
The audio clip below is of a XM interview with Jamie Shalley from Tuesday evening.
Jamie and I discussed the Toews story as well as his influence on the team. We looked ahead at the Hawks schedule, shared some thoughts on the Dylan Olsen signing and other possible additions.
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