Blackhawks have lineup issues, injury concerns, in house tension and I still can’t wait for this season to begin.
My thinking was much of the Lockout was about owners needing to protect themselves from each other. That appears to be true although it is obvious there has been a shift in power concerning decision making. To my surprise big market franchises, including the Blackhawks could be effected down the road.
Owners who spent to the hilt and signed free agents to long term front loaded contracts could have big issues in years to come. We will have time to look into specifics once the ink dries on the CBA agreement but some owners can’t be too happy. In the end the players made sacrifices, as they always do, but at least this process won’t happen again for another eight to ten years.
Let’s recap how the Blackhawks ended last season.
The Hawks were a first round playoff casualty for the second time in as many seasons. It would be easy to point a finger at an injury to Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews still being hampered by concussion symptoms. Fans can also look toward a couple of bad goals by Corey Crawford as the difference. In reality, not the more talented club, but the one who could play their system with the best goal tending advanced.
It also should be remembered when the Blackhawks were flying high in the first few months of the season the injury bug had not bitten at all. Then injuries came in bunches later, but true Stanley Cup contenders are able to overcome adversity. Look no further than Cup Finalists, the New Jersey Devils. Their star forward Ilya Kovalchuk battled through a herniated disc issue ever since the second round of the playoffs. All in all the Blackhawks had far fewer injuries to contend with throughout the season than many teams.
What appears to be the case is the Hawks are a club searching for a style of play, or an identity. Certainly the fast paced, puck possession style doesn’t fit this squad as well as it did the 2010 Cup winners. Actually the Hawks were not able to average scoring more than two goals per game in last year’s playoffs.
The same can be said when they tightened things up defensively in the last couple of months of the regular season. It should be noted after February 1, 2012 the Blackhawks scored on average, only two goals per game in regulation. Unless Corey Crawford turns into a standout goal keeper, capturing points by scoring two goals per game will be a difficult challenge
To make matters worse, dysfunction on the Blackhawks coaching staff as well as some head butting between GM Stan Bowman and Head Coach Joel Quenneville surfaced. To get called out in the spring as a “dysfunctional organization” on a Hockey Night in a Canada telecast must have made club President John McDonough and owner Rocky Wirtz cringe. To think all will be well and everyone will be on the same page because Assistant Coach Mike Haviland was fired is probably wishful.
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