Archives For Chicago Blackhawks

For trade’s sake

April 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Gone and passed is another iteration of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, and what started as an absolute snore ended with a windfall of deals coming in the last hour leading up to the deadline.

Marian Gaborik moved from the New York Rangers to the Columbus Blue Jackets in one of the biggest deals of Deadline Day.

Big names — I’d reckon we can still call Marian Gaborik a big name — were on the move, while the minor deals will go largely unheralded as the future effect will be little more than a blip or a fun fact years down the road.

Fans in Minnesota lauded the move of Minnesota Wild GM landing former Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville, albeit coming at quite the cost. Philadelphia Flyers fans screamed at their phones and televisions as Steve Mason moved from Columbus to the City of Brotherly Love. Completing the spectrum, armchair GMs are left scratching their head on what exactly went on to get Washington Capitals GM George McPhee to give up Filip Forsberg less than a year after he drafted the Swede in the first round of the entry draft.

While nearly every team added at the deadline — either in the way of future picks, prospects, or roster players — there are a few which stood pat. On deadline day, the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens made nary a roster change.

Granted, pre-deadline the Wings added sought after defense prospect Danny DeKeyser, and the Canadiens sealed a deal with Los Angeles for Davis Drewiske. In addition, it’s not as if the Islanders didn’t try to improve as, come deadline day, they reportedly kicked the tires on Brandon Saad because apparently Garth Snow thinks Chicago Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman can’t tell his head from a hole in the ground.

But with the lack of moves, some fans threw their hands in the air in outrage. A large sampling of Twitter action would probably be quite profanity-laced, as fans derided their favourite team’s management for not doing anything. But what is the sake of trading for trading’s sake?

If GMs made deals at the behest of fans who cheer for the club they run, it’s safe to say that franchise’s would be run into the ground.

Red Wings fans wanted to see Johan Franzen on the outs.

A litany of Red Wings fans have cried for Johan Franzen to be moved or outright waived without a thought as to the implications for the team going forward. If the Wings could have found a suitor for Franzen — if he was on the block, he would have had several, of that you can be sure — the return they would have gotten could have been slim. Fair market value for a proven playoff performer is something these fans aren’t even taking into consideration.

Fans who are making snap decisions just want to see something happen. They want something to happen so they can be apart of the flurry without careful consideration as to the implications of a deal. Making a deal, just any old deal, doesn’t necessarily provide anything to the team.

When addressing the media as the buzzer sounded on deadline day, the aforementioned Bowman told the press the management team had, “to ask ourselves the question, does it make us better? And to make a move just to make a move, we don’t believe in that.”

And as should be the case.

Sometimes staying the course is better than making a decision you’ll later regret. The GMs are doing what they believe is best for the team they’re trying to build. Whether it’s the right move or not, that’s to be seen. But there’s a careful calculation to be made.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best move to be made.

The Chicago Blackhawks were Stanley Cup Champions in 2010 and anything short of another Stanley Cup won’t be enough this season. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

With a 5-3 win last night over the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks pushed their point-streak this season to 23 games — a record of 20-0-3. The streak, which is the longest in the history of the National Hockey League to begin a season and second longest point streak of all-time, has put the Blackhawks front-and-centre on the sports radar in the United States. But in the end, the streak means nothing if the Blackhawks don’t win the final game of the season.

Many have been discrediting the streak as a product of the loser-point era and saying the Blackhawks have been the beneficiary of a “play it safe and secure at least a single” strategy, the streak should be discredited for another reason entirely: it doesn’t mean a thing.

Though earning a record in a league that’s satiated with parity is an achievement, it would be remiss to think anyone but fans and media care much about the streak. Even with this streak being only statistically possible once every 700 years according to Richard Cleary in an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, it’s still not what the players set out each season to do, and it’s not what diehard fans dream of their team doing.

However unlikely it seems, this record will fall. This record will fall, and without a Stanley Cup to commemorate what is one of the greatest seasons the Windy City’s NHL team has ever seen, it will eventually be a memory that falls by the wayside for all hockey fans.

These records, for the most part, they come and go. What was Anaheim’s record from 2006-07 is no more, but if Ducks fans were asked what they remember about that season, it would be safe to say it’s the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks have been impressive this season, which is an understatement, but this season is about a race to the finish, not who’s first out of the blocks.

Were the Blackhawks to slip in the playoffs and be eliminated early, the streak would not be enough to please the fans. A divisional banner, maybe the least important banner in all of hockey, is worth less than nothing.

It’s not that fan expectations of this team are too high; fan expectations are right where they should be. The Blackhawks have succeeded to a point where they’re bound to lose a few — and a few in a row, in all likelihood — but ‘Hawks fans should now be worried about when this team happens to hit the skids.

The streak is an interesting statistical oddity and something that will eventually come to an end. A Stanley Cup at the end of the season will last forever.

December 17, 2010 was Chris Chelios Heritage Night at the United Center in Chicago. As the Blackhawks honoured one of their all-time greats, those in attendance showered him with boos.

Chelios, then 48, pleaded with the sold-out crowd, asking them to, “let bygones be bygones,” and telling the fans that he was one of them. The Blackhawks faithful relented slightly, but seemingly few remember just what Chelios meant to the organization.

The words to describe Chelios as a player are plentiful: warrior, determined, leader, teacher, champion — the list goes on all the way to the one word that encapsulates it all. Legend.

Legend isn’t a word I throw around lightly when it comes to the greats of our beloved game, but Chelios deserves it. A three-time Stanley Cup Champion, three-time Norris Trophy winner, multiple First Team All-Star votes, and an NHL career that spanned over 25 years. He’s the modern icon of career longevity (Gordie Howe being the historical figure that best embodied that attribute).

When he left Chicago, very few fans chose to remember that it wasn’t necessarily on his own accord.

Sure, Chelios had lofty contract demands and he was 36 years old, but the onus — at least in my mind — falls on William W. Wirtz. Wirtz was unwilling to pay his veteran leader the money that he rightfully deserved, thus leading to him being jettisoned to the much maligned division rival Detroit Red Wings. You can’t fault Chelios for this either. Plain and simple, the Wings were the highest bidders.

Days after the trade had taken place, Chelios told reporters he regretted not being able to finish his career as a Blackhawk.

This is a Chicago native, a man who took the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1992, the defenseman who represented the ‘Hawks in several All-Star Games and won two Norris Trophies as a member of the team. He is the third highest scoring defenseman in team history — with the second highest P/PG — and was the captain for five seasons. He was a leader on and off the ice.

With the Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 being announced today, it is without a doubt that come Chelios’s time he’ll be a first ballot inductee.

You can trust this is one the induction committee will get right, that’s not my concern. What is more concerning, and far more interesting, is whether or not the Blackhawks do the right thing: retiring Chelios’s number 7.

Chelios’s credentials are there and his numbers are comparable to all those Blackhawks whose numbers hang from the rafters in the United Center. What he meant to the franchise cannot be quantified. He lead the team to greatness and his exit coincides with one of the greatest tailspins in franchise history.

When Chelios gets the greatest honour in hockey, an induction to the Hall of Fame, it is only right if the Blackhawks do the same and retire his number.

All due respect to Brent Seabrook, but there is only one 7.