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Dirk Graham


C - Doug Gilmour, Mark Janssens, Chad Kilger, Todd White, Alexei Zhamnov. LW - Dan Cleary, Eric Daze, Jean-Yves Leroux, Ethan Moreau, Bob Probert, Reid Simpson, Roman Vopat. RW - Tony Amonte, Dennis Bonvie, Craig Mills. D - Jamie Allison, Chris Chelios, Paul Coffey, Christian LaFlamme, Eric Weinrich, Trent Yawney, Doug Zmolek. G - Mark Fitzpatrick, Jeff Hackett.


Paul Coffey, d (drop foot, indefinite -- and no, I'm not making that up, it's a direct quote from Coffey); Jean-Yves Leroux, lw (groin, indefinite), Reid Simpson, lw (broken hand, indefinite); Todd White, c, (bruised ribs, indefinite).


Recalled Craig Mills, rw, and Dennis Bonvie, rw, from Portland of the AHL October 26; traded Steve Dubinsky, c, and Jeff Shantz, c, to Calgary in exchange for Jamie Allison, d, Marty McInnis, c, and Erik Andersson, c; then traded McInnis to Anaheim for a conditional draft pick October 27; recalled Todd White, c, from Chicago of the IHL October 29; waived Ed Olczyk, c, assigned Ty Jones, lw, to Spokane of the WHL and Alain Nasreddine, d, to Portland of the AHL October 30; assigned Ed Olczyk, c, to Chicago of the IHL November 2; signed Andrei Trefilov, g, and assigned him to Indianapolis of the IHL November 5; assigned Remi Royer, d, to Portland of the AHL November 9; traded Cam Russell, d, to Colorado for Roman Vopat, lw, and sixth-round pick in 1999.


10/28 at Carolina  L 2-0
10/30 Florida      L 7-3
11/1 Calgary       L 4-1
11/4 at Florida    L 2-1
11/6 at Tampa Bay  T 2-2
11/8 Edmonton      L 3-2


Central Division    GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   
  Detroit           13   7   6   0    14   37   30   
  St Louis          12   5   3   4    14   30   26   
  Chicago           13   4   7   2    10   28   39 
  Nashville         12   4   7   1     9   30   37


by Tom Crawford, Chicago Correspondent


Scroll up about 10 lines. Look at those scores. Need I say more?

"Nope, that about says it all," you answer. But if I submit a 14-word team report, the publishers might get mad and take away my booze-and-strippers expense account, so I'll forge ahead.

This latest Blackhawks debacle -- a six-game winless streak while playing only one 1997 playoff team -- contained elements of the strange and the familiar, bad breaks and bonehead plays, and futility at both ends of the ice.

Strangely, the Hawks all of a sudden can't kill penalties. Even more odd has been the subpar play of Jeff Hackett. But the lack of consistent scoring and the anemic power play are all too familiar.

Early in the streak the Hawks saw a scoreless tie broken when an attempt to ring the puck around the boards turned into a centering pass courtesy of the experimental second referee and his limited agility. Later in the streak, Eric Weinrich's perfect backhand pass from behind his own net found Bill Lindsay for the game-winner late in the third period. Lindsay, if you don't know, plays for the Florida Panthers.

All-around lousy play has the Hawks near the bottom of the NHL in offense (22nd in goals scored) and defense (25th in goals allowed).

It's only 13 games into the season, but Coach Dirk Graham has already tried every tactic in the book to motivate his team. He tried throwing some kids out there for added energy. That experiment ended with the assignment of Ty Jones, Alain Nasreddine, and Remi Royer to the minors. He tried benching veterans he felt weren't leaving it on the ice, but with a roster depleted by trade and injury, Graham can't afford to leave Weinrich or Kilger in the press box. His post-game comments have run from "It's my fault," to "Look on the bright side," to "Hi, I'm Lorne Molleken -- Dirk would love to talk to you but he's busy."

What's most worrisome about the Graham era so far is the team's lack of spirit, energy, heart -- whatever you want to call it, it's the thing Graham was brought in specifically to provide. In almost every game there have been tantalizing stretches where the Hawks forecheck aggressively, hit like they mean it, and generally take control of the game. But they inevitably revert to running around in their own end, making lazy passes, and getting beaten to loose pucks.

If Graham, hardly an expert tactician, can't properly motivate this team, the question arises...

Is Dirk on the Hot Seat?

"Come on," you say, "it's 13 games into the season. Liz Taylor and that construction dude had a longer honeymoon, fer Chrissakes!"

Well don't blame me for starting rumors; the salaried journalists in this town have already run with one story alleging that assistant Denis Savard is poised to replace his ex-teammate as coach.

Both parties pooh-poohed the notion, of course, but rumors persist. Neither Graham nor Savard deny their differences of style and opinion, but Graham points out that surrounding oneself with "yes men . . . hurts the growth of any coach."

Blockbuster Trade?

The Thursday night pickup league at Johnny's Ice House suffered a major loss when tough, scrappy winger Jonene Shantz was shipped off to Calgary, along with her husband Jeff and fellow Hawks' centerman Steve Dubinsky.

In return, the Hawks received Marty McInnis, Jamie Allison, and Erik Andersson. McInnis, the only one of these bright lights with appreciable NHL experience, was then shipped to Anaheim for an undisclosed draft pick.

Now I might not be an NHL scout, and who knows what upside Allison or Andersson might have, but what the hell kind of trade was that? You take two guys from your own system who worked hard, did everything the coaches asked, and eventually earned significant playing time, and you toss them on the NHL scrap heap for no apparent reason.

When Brent Sutter retired, the Hawks had not one but two guys ready to jump in as that faceoff-winning, puck-in-the-corner-freezing, all-around steady and unspectacular* third-line center.

So what, you ask? Just try building an NHL team without one. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but two nights after the trade I flipped on ESPN to find Dubinsky drawing a penalty by hustling after a loose puck while the Hawks were giving up three power-play goals to Florida.

Mark Janssens is fine as a fourth-line bruiser, and the vacancy at center allows Chad Kilger to move back to his natural position, but I'm convinced this trade made the Hawks a worse team.

In another deal right before the LCS Hockey issue deadline, the Hawks traded Cam Russell to the injury-plagued Colorado Avalanche for left wing Roman Vopat and a sixth-round pick.

"Mon Dieu, Comme Je Suis Grand!"

Apparently Eric Daze caught his reflection in a full-length mirror sometime this past offseason, because he's started to play like a 6-foot-6-inch 220-pounder. His open-ice hits have flattened the likes of this one big guy on the Canadiens and this other big guy on this other team. A bit of a mean streak in a kid this big with hands that soft could turn Daze into something special and make Bob Murray look well-nigh crafty for locking the youngster up in a long-term deal.


Longtime Blackhawk irritant Dino Ciccarelli, now with the Florida Panthers, accused Hawks' goalie Mark Fitzpatrick of deliberately kicking him in the forehead after Ciccarelli scored a goal in the teams' November 4th meeting.

"He kicked me twice," Dino said. "He knew what he was doing."

Relax, Dino, you're one of the lucky ones whose appearance would be improved by a skate blade to the face.


Paul Coffey (he's actually a member of the Hawks, in case you'd forgotten) announced last week that his back was fully healed, but that he now suffered from "drop foot."

"Meaning I can't lift the foot up in the air," Coffey said. "I haven't been able to skate. I've been going crazy for a month and a half."

Yeah Paul, so have Hawk fans who are footing the bill (no pun intended) for your paid vacation.

News and Notes

Chris Chelios reached two milestones this week when he played in his 1000th NHL game and overtook Keith Magnuson as the Blackhawks' all-time leader in penalty minutes. "I'm going to call Maggie today and apologize," said Chelios, "I did it with a hold." . . . Tony Amonte continued his hot start to the season, finishing the weekend tied for second in the NHL in goals with nine . . . Eric Weinrich's tough night against Florida wasn't limited to his tape-to-tape pass to Bill Lindsay for the Panthers' winning goal. He also caught teammate Doug Gilmour in the face with a clearing attempt. Gilmour ended up with stitches and a beauty of a shiner, but only missed a couple of shifts . . . I'm going to have to find a new whipping boy now that Remi Royer, the human turnover, has finally been sent to the minors . . . Finally, is it just me or do personnel decisions like the Shantz/Dubinsky trade and the signing of Ed Olczyk indicate some communication breakdown between coach and GM? Graham never had any intention of playing Olczyk (he's now with the Chicago Wolves), and it seems like Shantz and Duber were just the type of player Graham would want more of.

* My apologies to Jeff Shantz for calling him unspectacular. His coast-to-coaster against the Sharks a couple years ago made every highlight film that season.

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