Apr 092014
Morin_Jeremy_Lindbloom_viewJeremy Morin flashes the Vulcan gang sign to Bicks

“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting.” – Spock

By Rich Lindbloom

After Tazer went down to an illegal hit by known Penguin assassin Brooks Orpik, the inner meatball button in me was triggered. Winning the hockey game became secondary to exacting just retribution on the nozzle who obviously was attempting to injure Tazer. I heard several Hawk players defend their lack of response by saying , “It was a 2-1 game and we didn’t want to take a penalty…” type excuse. Apparently there were no mirrors in their locker room in Pittsburgh.

Not only did we lose the game, I felt intense shame for days after their “play-on” mindset. Yeah I know, maybe I do need to get a life. Seriously though, your Captain and one of the best players in the NHL goes down to a hit that was an obvious attempt to injure, and your worried about winning a meaningless game? Better come up with a better excuse than that. Losing 10-1 would have been preferable to the tepid response of the Hawks that day. There are things in life more important than winning; mounting a response to Orpik’s dastardly hit is one of them.

As Spock noted, most likely I wouldn’t have felt a lot better about losing Toews for the rest of the season had someone addressed the situation like a man. Yet there was no doubt that I “wanted” someone to take a run at Orpik or even better, one of the Penguin skilled players, for the remainder of the game. In my insane world, every time a Hawk player skated by the Pittsburgh bench, they would have said, “Your next Sid.” And if you’re honest about it, I suspect the vast majority of Hawk fans felt the same way.

Would it have changed anything? No, watching someone throw a few meaningless punches at Orpik as he turtled wouldn’t have changed a thing – but there’s this meatball code thing in hockey that has been around as long as I’ve watched it. Can you imagine Keith Magnuson hiding behind the “We were down 2-1,” excuse? I’m guessing if he were not on the ice he would have flown over the boards in a nanosecond to discuss Orpik’s inappropriate behavior. Then again “attempted” behavior modification was one of Maggie’s strong suits.

No doubt, many would say that this Hawk team is built to win Stanley Cups, not to engage in mindless retaliation. The modern school of hockey thought states that the best way to address the situation is on the scoreboard. In my mind, that gutless approach will lead to a early exit in the playoffs. Hockey always has been and always will be about “team,” and to a lesser extent kicking ass and taking names. Watching Toews limp off the ice, with no response from the Braves of four feathers, reeked of pusillanimity.

To a certain extent, the players still have to police the game. Relying on Brendan Shanahan to mete out justice is a poor substitute for “they hurt one of our guys, so we’re going to hurt one of their guys.” That mindset that has been part and parcel of hockey since its inception. Hockey has always been a manly sport, played by manly men, doing manly things.

While on the subject of manly things, about a year ago I went to the hospital to visit my mom. It was a blustery November afternoon, one of those days when you realize Fall is indeed in the bag. As I scurried from the parking lot to the hospital entrance, I noticed four young ladies staring at a flat tire on their car.

The easy thing to do of course would be to pretend I hadn’t noticed their predicament. After all, it had been awhile since I had changed my last flat tire. I’m never quite sure where to place the jack under the car.

For some reason though, memories of my dad came to my mind. I knew he wouldn’t have even thought twice about what to do. So as I approached the distressed damsels, I asked if they needed any help, secretly hoping they already had called someone to bail them out. The young lady who owned the car said, “I was just about to call my dad.” (when all else fails call dad, eh?)

A bit apprehensively I told her to hold on, “I think we can figure this out.” After reading the owner’s manual to learn where to put the jack, I began the relatively simple process of changing a flat. The rest was actually a piece of cake. As I tightened the bolts down on the spare tire, I looked at the young ladies who clearly were thinking I was a knight in shining armor. “I feel like such a man right now!” I exclaimed. We all had a good laugh at that pronouncement.

All that to say, I’m sure Bryan Bickell felt like a man when he sat down in the time out box after he confronted Jared Boll for his borderline check on the Hawks Jeremy (Thrusters on full) Morin. There is no way to measure the impact that moment had on the outcome of the game, or season. Of course the growing pacifistic school of thought on hockey was quick to point out that Boll’s check was actually a clean one and Bickell risked getting the instigator penalty. In a tight game against the Jackets, he risked putting the BJ’s on the power play.

However, backing up a teammate like that has the same effect on Coach Q as taking a few androgen 2.9% supplements.  A major testosterone rush. No doubt Coach Q’s wife has to hide from him when he comes home after his team responds in that manner! I’m guessing Mrs. Bickell was pretty excited herself. Plays like that not only help to win games, they lead to hot and heavy activity between the sheets! The Hawks bench seemed to be pretty pumped up; there is no doubt in my mind that Morin appreciated Bickell “had his back and everything.”

Bickell’s action, and certainly his play of late, seem to be helping to cement one of the strangest line combo’s ever to emerge from the Random Line Generator. Raise your hand high if you penciled in Bickell/Regin/Morin a few months ago; raise both hands if you predicted they would be one of our dominant lines lately. Hell, it took injuries to Toews and Kane for Morin to even get called up from the Big R.

Jeremy had been a dominating force in the AHL the last few months. I went to the Valentine’s Day game when the Hogs locked snouts with the Wolves. He was clearly head and shoulders above the competition at that level. While I appreciate the way Brookbank has filled in for Oduya the last few games on the Blue line logging over 20 minutes/game, why on God’s green earth would you ever start Brookbank over Morin at forward? Enquiring minds want to know Coach Q.

The kids from Rockford seem to have injected some life into a battered Hawk team as the arduous season winds down. It says a lot about the talent pool in hockey that so many teams don’t seem to miss a beat when their stars are injured. When the young warriors are called up from the farm, they bring a bonsai type approach to the game, heading into the corners with reckless abandon. They know they better play both ends of the ice, or their time in the “Bigs” will be short lived.

The Hawks have seemed to place more emphasis on team defense in the absence of their superstars. Patrick Sharp noted, “I think we’ve raised our battle level lately.” Could he have been referring to Bickell’s actions? Or Shaw’s seemingly mindless crosscheck of Colaiacovo as he stepped off the ice? Although it made me smile, hopefully Shaw gets rid of his excess knuckle-headedness when the playoffs start. (By the way, Colaiacovo has way too many vowels in his name.) Of course it doesn’t hurt that Sharpie is having what I believe is his best season as a Blackhawk.

Morin’s recent success is no fluke. He has excelled at every level he has played on, including four National Junior teams. He was on the 2010 American team that defeated Canada 6-5 for the gold medal. Jeremy has tickled the twine with regularity on every team he’s played on in his career. The book on Mo is he “knows how to get open to shoot and possesses a high hockey IQ.” The eye test this season has definitely confirmed those observations.  He was drafted 45th in the 2009 entry draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. He was the main acquisition in a 7 player deal that sent Big Buff, Gentle Ben, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu to Atlanta.

Along with Joakim Nordstrom, the 90th pick in the 2010 entry draft, the Rockford duo have acquitted themselves with considerable aplomb since being called up when the Captain went down.

(i.e. – they played good) There appears to be no relation to Bulls star Joakim Noah. Nordstrom also played on two Swedish National Junior teams. He’s a classic two way player that never stops skating, quite adept at the dump and chase. He fits like an old shoe on the Kruger/Bollig line. If green beans could skate, I’m pretty sure they would look just like Joakim.

I’ll tell you one thing, Toews and Kane better not spend too much time sipping drinks with umbrella’s in them while they are recuperating. I heard Chevy is already talking to Smith and Morin should the dynamic duo begin to rest on past laurels. Apparently Chevy is also working on a spot with Bollig and Bickell driving a Silverado, a man’s vehicle. How quickly our heroes can dissipate into the sunset, eh?

In closing, the illegal charge on Toews by Orpik couldn’t have come at a better time. For those of you who still think the hit was legal, you’d be well advised to check out Kerry Fraser’s column entitled “C’mon Ref!” Fraser weighed in on the illegal hit after the Penguin game;

“You and I are not the only ones missing something here as players continually elevate their posture and leave their feet at impact to deliver devastating hits. Dangerous and significant contact to the head, of their opponent almost always results whenever a player leaves his feet to make a big hit….Referee’s should be instructed to impose a charging penalty in every case when a player’s skates leave the ice in the act of delivering a bod check, period.”

If there is a silver lining to Tazer’s injury, in addition to Orpik missing his intended target – Tazer’s head – the hit has seemed to awaken a sleeping dragon.

With three games left in the regular season, including a visit from the Rouge, Blanc et Bleu tonight, I’m really starting to get positive vibes about our post season chances. I like the way their banding together, quickly coming to their team mates defense when an opposing nozzle tries to hurt one of our guys. Quite frankly, I don’t care if it’s a clean check or not. If someone tries to hurt one of the good guys, there needs to be a response. The Meatball Code still trumps the Modern School of hockey insight. I know this defies logic but as Spock once noted about Captain Kirk’s chess abilities, “Your illogical approach to chess does have its advantages on occasion, Captain.

As Muddy Waters would put it:

“I’m a man, way past 21

No B O child Y

I’m a natural born lover man

I’m a man.”

Finally, a word to the wise when changing the tires; make sure you loosen the lug nuts before you jack the car up.

Other important stuff:

As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Skate softly, but always have an enforcer on your bench. If he can skate, that’s a plus.

Chris Block is supposed to give an assessment of the Orpik hit. I’m sure his view, and the retaliatory aspect will be slightly different than mine. There’s a reason he titles my pieces “Lindbloom’s View” obviously disassociating himself from anything I may write!

The preordained Stanley Cup champions from the west bank of the Mississippi have lost three straight, giving up four goals in each contest. In other news though, David Backes beat up another 18 year old.

I’m never happy when I get the invoice for season ticket renewals, up another 18% for my seats this year. But what really ticks me off is they put up signs on Wood Street saying no parking during Stadium events unless you live on that street that has no buildings on it. For those of us willing to get to the game an hour and a half early, it saved us 25 clams. Another way of saying thanks to the greatest fans in the NHL? Who says you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.

Niklas Hjalmarsson deserves to have his name mentioned for Norris Trophy consideration, yes even ahead of Duncs this year. The award is for the best defenseman, not the highest scoring d-dawg.

It appears Spring has finally Sprung. I saw a bunch of fat robins and the crocuses are shooting up as if they took to heart the commercials for androgen and Cialis.

Rich Lindbloom

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