Blackhawks have lineup issues, injury concerns, in house tension and I still can’t wait for this season to begin.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -At long last the NHLhockey season is about to begin as the puck will drop on January 19 with the Blackhawks traveling to play the Los Angeles Kings.Seemingly, like others over the last few years the players were forced to change their salary structure to be more favorable toward management. Actually there were no clear winnersin this lockout. Certainly not NHL fans who supported the sport more than ever, but had no choice but to endure a prolonged work stoppage.Debating who the bigger villain was, Gary Bettman or NHLPA leader Donald Fehr, is like arguing over favorite colors. The most striking point was how divided NHL owners appeared to be.

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.

Read more: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/20552077/2013/01/10/hawks-have-lineup-issues-injury-concerns-in-house-tension-i-cant-wait-for-the-season-to-begin#ixzz2HaSYWOcR

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Filed Under: Al CimagliaChicago BlackhawksFeatured

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  1. Ty Cam says:

    Great write up Al. Glad to see your articles are back and looking forward to an interesting year of Hawk chat with you.