Happy Holidays, Hawkers!
Well, Christmas is just around the corner, and as a gesture of
goodwill I'm going to say only nice things about our hometown
heroes, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hmm . . . .
Let's see . . . .
I guess there's . . . .
Hell, the uniforms are still damned spiffy!
Aw, screw it, we all know the Hawks suck. Sorry that was such a
lousy effort at Christmas cheer, but nothing spoils a festive mood
like watching your team lose to the Kings (or listening to them
lose if your team happens to be owned by Bill Wirtz).
The Hawks don't just lose to the Kings, either. L.A. looks like Cup
contenders when they play the Hawks, dominating them physically,
outskating them, and winning every loose puck. Against the rest of
the league, they've managed 17 points in 30 games; against the Hawks
they're 2-0, outscoring them by a 9-1 margin.
Any Blackhawk player, coach, or executive who claims the Hawks are a
team on the rise should be immediately bludgeoned by game film of
those two contests.
Tony Amonte opined after their tie against the Dallas Stars that the
Hawks "are starting to show we can play with the best teams in the
OK, Tony, but that don't mean squat if you can't beat L.A. Or San
Jose. Or Calgary. Don't fall into the same trap the Chicago Bears
did this year, thinking that losing a close game to very good team
means you're kinda good. All it means is that, when a good team
overlooks you on their schedule and gives a half-assed effort while
you play your hearts out, you're still not good enough to beat
News from the Heavyweight Division
At practice on Monday (a session full of wind sprints and shuttle
races, rewarding the team for their all-out effort against the
Kings), two teammates reportedly dropped the gloves and went at it.
And the combatants were?
You guessed it, Tony Amonte and Ed Olczyk.
Was this, as Eddie O. explained, just some rough-housing among
"family." Could it have something to do with the lazy penalty
Olczyk took with five minutes left in last night's game and the
Hawks down two goals? Or did Eddie just point out to Tony one too
many times that if he grew a mustache he'd look just like John
Do We Miss Belfour Yet?
The goalie situation is still a cause for concern on this team.
Jocelyn Thibault is being treated like a No.1 goalie but hasn't
played like it.
As an example, he played his best game as a Blackhawk against
Edmonton, allowing only one goal, and that came when he tried to
dump the puck out of the defensive zone and bounced it off Brad
Brown into his own net. But in his next effort he let in a soft
wrister from the point that turned into the game winner.
Overall, his goals-against is over 3.00, and his save percentage is
below .900, neither of which is acceptable in this era of the NHL.
Meanwhile, Mark Fitzpatrick has been very good for short periods of
time (20 minutes or so) and mediocre otherwise.
This is very bad news for a team that has always depended on solid
defense and goaltending to make up for a conservative and
undertalented offensive attack.
News and Notes
Paul Coffey has begun skating a fairly regular shift with the
expected results: some pretty plays on offense and some plays that
are pretty offensive (like his giveaway to Glen Murray resulting in
the Kings' first goal last Sunday) . . . . Christian Laflamme has
been shipped to Portland in an effort to shake him from a long
sophomore slump. As a rookie Laflamme was the Hawks' steadiest
blueliner, but has struggled mightily in his own end this year.
His Dec. 9 hit on Oiler Mike Grier was pretty nice, though . . . .
Dirk Graham's commitment to the youth movement may be weakening
somewhat. Graham recently sent offensive prospects Dan Cleary and
J.P. Dumont to the minors in favor of grinder Craig Mills.