Let me Break it Down for You

NHL.com is currently doing its “30 Teams in 30 Days” feature, whereby they focus on a different franchise each day until all 30 NHL teams have been analyzed.

Guess who today is…the Chicago Blackhawks. I choked a little on my morning protein bar while reading what NHL.com had to report and this odious franchise. Here’s a few of my thoughts on their analysis.

STATE OF THE UNION – A successful spring led directly into a whirlwind summer for the NHL’s newest “it” team, but the Chicago Blackhawks remain on strong footing despite the somewhat surprising change at the top from Dale Tallon to Stan Bowman.”It’s fair to say expectations are high,” (Stan)Bowman, the Blackhawks‘ new general manager, told NHL.com. “I like our team.”

So once again, years of sucking is finally paying dividends making Chicago the new Pittsburgh. “Hey look how good we’ve become by being so terrible for so many years!” I’m waiting to hear Gary Bettman call Chicago the “2nd Model Franchise”.

Expectations are high in Chicago because the team overachieved last year…big time. Look at their play-off run: they took out and injury riddled Calgary Flames in the first round, knocked out an offensively inept Vancouver Canucks, and then got steam-rolled by Detroit in the Conference Finals. Going from not making the play-offs in 2008, to reaching the 2009 Western Conference Finals was a fluke. Don’t let the NHL or idiots from Chicago tell you different.

There’s a lot to like, what with the additions of Marian Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky to last season’s Western Conference Finalists. Bowman’s task now is to keep it all together.How he plans to do that seems to be the biggest question around the Blackhawks today.

Is that really a question? There is no friggin’ way the core of this team can remain intact after this season. Even if the Cap stays flat (un-likely), they have over half their Cap committed to eight players. Sure, Madden’s Cap hit comes off, but that was really a ho-hum signing to begin with. My guess is that if they can’t find a dance partner for Patrick Sharp and unload him somewhere else, they’re going to lose Kane or Keith or both. Toews will stay, he’s the captain and they’d be stupid to get rid him.

Happy about the acquisition of Kopecky, Chicago? He was just a package deal to get Hossa, no one in Detroit wept when Coke ‘N Pepsi left town…if you can’t reach your potential within Detroit’s organ-i-zation, what chance do you have in Chicago?

“I think it’s dangerous to speculate because it doesn’t really benefit anybody,” Bowman said. “We’re going to plan for a few different scenarios, but all last year we heard how the cap would go down and it didn’t. Now we’re hearing it’s going to go down next year. It might, but we haven’t played a game yet and next year’s cap is based on this upcoming year’s revenue. Let’s wait before we say the sky is falling.”

Translation: “It’s dangerous to speculate, but we are going to speculate”. It’s called planning for the future, Stan, and you better be good at it. You want to wait for the Cap number next year? You’re setting yourself up to get smacked right between the eyes, which is fine by me.

Could that mean Bowman will put Patrick Sharp on the trading block? What about Brian Campbell and his big contract? Would he try to move goaltender Cristobal Huet if Corey Crawford and/or Antti Niemi step up?

I already touched on Sharp, I think that he is actually movable. But Campbell and Huet’s contracts aren’t going anywhere. I pray to the hockey gods that there isn’t a GM (left) in the league stupid enough to take these contracts off of Chicago’s hands. You made your bed, now lay in it. Essentially, Dale Tallon destroyed much of this team’s future last summer. His love of making “blockbuster deals” and getting his name in the paper is what got them into this mess in the first place. Oh and the fact he doesn’t get his mail out in time. Remember that the fans booed team president John McDonough when they fired him…morons.

“There is no pressure now,” Bowman said. “We don’t have to make a move to affect our team for this season. We may choose to as we look down the road.”

No pressure, eh? What happens if this team is slow out of the gate, Stan? You don’t think there’d be a little pressure from all of those fickle fans packing in the United Center night after night? Are you familiar with Chicago’s fan-base? If there is pressure on ANY franchise in the league this year, it’s Chicago.

This is it for them, it’s going to be fun to watch them burn.
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