By Rich Lindbloom
“What me worry? There’s must be at least 50 ways to find that elusive #2 center – having $3 mildo in my pocket is a good start.”
Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to locate a seat in our company’s Suite. Normally an inhabitant of the upper reaches of the U.C., on occasion I get to sit close enough to the ice to actually hear the sound Dave Bolland’s elbow makes when it collides with an adversary. In between periods, I made my way down to the main concourse to meet a friend close to where Denis Savard was signing autographs. The excitement and buzz there were rather apparent on this, the opening night of the 2011/12 season. Like most of the ardent Hawk fans, the bat senses were heightened that night trying to discern if this year’s team is an improvement over last year’s. If nothing else, Stan Bowman had a very active offseason. The word frenetic comes to mind. While he didn’t pull a true second center out of his hat, the revamping of the Hawks almost paralleled the amount of changes made last year.
Trying to get a grasp on the potential of this year’s braves, the recollection of a basketball game between Mendel H.S. and Bloom H. S. came to mind. It was a Super Sectional game played in The Dome at Crete Monee H. S. Playing or watching a game in The Dome was always a special moment – a big light moment if ever there was one. I don’t remember who won the game, but I do remember the Mendel cheering section. In this day and age of political correctness, I realize it may appear I’m stereotyping a segment of our population, but there’s just no other way to put this – Mendel’s largely black student body was blessed with soul. They had several cheers, accompanied by rhythmic body movements, but one stuck out in my mind.
The whole student body stood up and started chanting “Say Bloom, what you think,” repetitively – I think even the players were watching them. I’m pretty sure every eye in The Dome was on these lads, as they exhorted their team on.
Which leads me to the obvious question after three games; “Say Hawk fans, what you think?”
Perhaps the area I find most encouraging is on the blue line. I’m not quite sure yet, but Steve Montador at first glance, appears to be the type of player the meatball’s have been clamoring for when it comes to patrolling the front of our net. His attitude reminds me of the Canadian “very’ tough guy, John Ferguson. Ferguson, next to Big John Scott, may have been the most feared player in the history of the NHL. I recall reading once that he wouldn’t even stay in the same bar after a game if opposing players came in. They were the enemy – period. Monty’s attitude reminds me of that necessary ingredient to success in this league – a certain degree of what the Beatles would call “The Blue Meanies.” Whether it’s the “walker” challenged Sean O’Donnell, (40 years old and playing in the NHL?), or Sami Lepisto, it appears to me we can throw out our third pairing with confidence. Monty is certainly not afraid to sacrifice his body along the boards. I don’t think there are too many players in the league wanting to collide with the “full Monty.”
I think it was John Schultz over at Blackhawk Up who summarized the Seabrook/Hjalmarsson tandem with uncanny insight – “That pairing has been “lights out” in a shutdown role.” Niklas has looked good to me so far this year, I guess being paired with Seabs has something to do with that. The rejuvenation of our handsome Swede is no doubt a welcome sight to the Hawks female contingent. The one thing I wish the #4 car would do is skate forward with the puck a little more. Against the Benny and the Jets, Niklas had the puck in front of our blue line on a turnover when the Jets went for a change on the fly. It looked like a very opportune time to skate towards the west end of the building in a Bobby Orr type rush. I told my son Greg, “If I were playing in the NHL, I would have…” The fact that the Hawks were also probably changing personnel is impertinent. Take some chances Hjarmal’s!
Leddy and Keith? Well if we have nothing else to complain about this year we’ll be ok. I liked Sam’s Fels observation that this tandem is making sure “Pepto still stays in business.” Keith looks refreshed and Leddy appears to be slightly more physical, although it’s rather apparent he’ll never be a John Scott. Again, I have no technical support to back this up, but if we need to draw a player from the “Big R”, it appears that Ryan Stanton or Dylan Olsen could contribute. By the way – anyone besides me excited about the Hogs this year? If you do 85 mph you can get to Rockford in an hour and thirty five minutes from Homewood. If my wife Nathalie drives, you can take another ten minutes off that time.
I believe one contest that would draw significant interest is a pregame race between Andrew Brunette and John Scott. I have to give a big assist to Jeffrey Bartl at Cheer the Anthem for a brilliant observation in his incredible Boxing with Bartl feature after the Jets game. (This is the first feature I look for after every game – check it out, you’ll become addicted.) He showed a broom next to Brunette’s goal, indicating his formidable “sweeper” talents. Apparently Andrew has played a little soccer. There was one play that sort of highlighted the Tortoise aspect of the # 15 car’s game. Toews was leading a three on two rush and when the D closed in on him he threw a beautiful blind pass to where he thought Andrew would be. As Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed him by that much!” (about ten feet.) Regardless, the guy has a nose for the net and is almost as clever with the puck as Kaner.
The Kane/Hossa experiment needs more time to make an accurate assessment, but anybody unhappy with it so far? Hell, I’m pretty sure I could play left wing on that line – that is if I haven’t taken over Hjarmal’s spot on the blue line do to my puck moving abilities. Hossa just seems to plow by checks that would stop mere mortals. His pass to Kane on #88’s first goal of the year was secondary to getting by the defenseman after a nice play by Carcillo. Kaner was 8 for 12 at the dot and was rumored to offer Toews some advice on face off techniques after the game. As Patrick sang, “Anything you can do, I can do better…” Probably the biggest story line in the local papers and blogs has been the musings on Danny “Carbomb” Carcillo. Enough has already been said about him, and he did have a very productive game on Thursday – he already has more hits than Adam Dunn had all year for the Sox. But as John Schultz noted, he’s on pace after one game for 300 hits this season. Highly doubtful that will happen. In a fond memory of the Cup Finals two years ago, #13 took down #81 in a collision in the Jets zone. In truth it was just as much Hossa’s fault on that one. And, just before impact Carcillo hollered “Get out of my way!”
The FroBoBick Line was sick out there. I could go on for two or three paragraphs, but I’m running out of room in this piece. Read some of the other excellent blogs concerning what may be the best third line in hockey at the moment. I’m also encouraged by the play of our fourth line, although I might be in the minority on that one. Speaking of minorities…
Emery? Well I think Sam Fels put it best when describing his technique, “Whoa, shit, there it is.” Maybe we need to get a “Whoops, dare it is,” cheer going every time he slams the door! Other than his Cirque du Gaulie move on the third Jets goal as was pointed out on one of the bogs, he looked ok. He even made Kyle Wellwood mess his pants on an aborted breakaway. I’m really pulling for Em-dog to excel. However, is there a chance the Hawks could grab Nabokov when DiPietro recovers?
By the way, despite Andrew Ladd trying to do a little dental work on Dave Bolland, the respect the Hawks and Ladd and Buff had for each other was very apparent. Good to see, even if a player like Monty doesn’t understand it. Ladd may have been retaliating for Bolland ripping the Big Buff’s helmet off. I’m thinking even The Rat might have been second guessing that move.
There was one last observation from opening night I’d like to tell you about. As I returned to the Suite after the 2nd and 3rd intermission, I saw a man lost in deep thought. Only he and I were in the hallway at that time. As he approached me I finally interrupted his train of thought saying, “Nice job on the team this year Stan.” The taciturn Stan Bowman let out a smile about as big as the Grand Canyon and simply said “Thanks.” Then he went back into deep thought, no doubt pondering where the true second center will come from. For now, Kaner is not a bad second option.
So Hawk fans, tell me, “What you think?”