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Dirk Graham


C - Doug Gilmour, Mark Janssens, Chad Kilger, Alexei Zhamnov. LW - Eric Daze, Jean-Yves Leroux, Ethan Moreau, Bob Probert, Reid Simpson. RW - Tony Amonte, Mike Maneluk, Craig Mills, Ed Olczyk. D - Jamie Allison, Brad Brown, Chris Chelios, Paul Coffey, Andy Johnson, Dave Manson, Bryan Muir, Trent Yawney, Doug Zmolek. G - Mark Fitzpatrick, Jocelyn Thibault.


Jamie Allison, d (wrist, indefinite); Paul Coffey, d (back, day-to-day); Jean-Yves Leroux, lw (groin, indefinite).


Assigned Dan Cleary, lw, and Christian Laflamme, d, to Portland (AHL) and recalled Jean-Pierre Dumont, rw, from Portland, December 14; assigned Jean-Pierre Dumont, rw, to Portland and recalled Craig Mills, rw, from Portland, December 20.


12/08 at Detroit       L 3-2
12/09 Edmonton         W 3-1
12/11 Toronto          L 3-2
12/13 Dallas           T 2-2
12/17 Washington       L 3-1
12/19 at Philadelphia  L 3-1
12/20 Los Angeles      L 4-1


Central Division    GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   
  Detroit           30  17  12   1    35   94   76  
  St Louis          28  11  10   7    29   74   69  
  Nashville         30  11  16   3    25   70   93   
  Chicago           32   9  19   4    22   71  107


by Tom Crawford, Chicago Correspondent

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 league".

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 them.

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 Oates?

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.

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