Somewhere, whoever actually runs the Hawks front office should crack open a beer or make a strong drink and breathe a sigh of relief that Patrick Kane’s surgery provides cover today that the Hawks once again missed out on a trade target that would have solved a lot of their problems. And they can sit back and watch as the Kings usurp the era that the Hawks have basically acted that they were entitled to.
It’s a story we’ve had to rehash far too many times the past two years. It’s after the parade, a time when perhaps you have to have the most amount of focus to see through the glow and what must be done. Everything looks a little glossier than it actually is and it’s easy to make a mistake, the ripples of which will be problems for years.
Bryan Bickell is given four years at $4 million per, which is at best the very top of what he deserved (and that’s being as kind as I can be). Granted, the Hawks didn’t have anything in the system to replace him (no, it’s not Jimmy Hayes though it might have been Kevin. Or possibly Morin, but let’s not go over that again). Michal Rozsival is given a two-year extension, even though the Hawks had squeezed out his best hockey and you can always find another plug for cheap.
Now, it’s not clear that it was actually Stan who made the decision to re-sign Bickell. That may have come from up above. It may not have. Rozie… don’t know.
So we get into last season, and it’s clear from early in the season that the Hawks need a center. They get Kris Versteeg. He proceeds to be awful, and ties the Hawks hands at the deadline when they can’t upgrade down the middle which is what they need. Ryan Kesler was out there. Didn’t get him. Didn’t get anyone. They give away a 2nd rounder for David Rundblad.
The summer comes and brings Brad Richards. Not the worst signing, though after Kesler was desperate to come here, kind of a letdown. The Hawks didn’t have the available prospects the Canucks wanted. Which leads one to wonder, do the Hawks just not have the prospects anyone wants?
Into this year, and those contracts to Bickell and Rozsival cost Nick Leddy, currently the best possession player on the best possession team in the East. That leaves a hole in the defense, when combined with Oduya’s decline. Sadly, for the Hawks, the Kings need the same thing. And the Kings get what they want while the Hawks’ F.O. stands still.
They told us after ’13 that it was time for some kids to bleed through and fill the holes. Well… where are they? Pirri, Hayes, Morin, Stanton, Clendening, Leddy all jettisoned. For what? In the past two years, the only kid to scratch out a spot in the lineup is… Joakim Nordstrom? Ben Smith?
We argue constantly about whether it’s the coach who won’t play them or they’re just not that good. The answer is probably both.
The defense has been the need area all year. Andrej Sekera was the best answer. It cost a 1st and a mid-level prospect. Do the Hawks have none of those? Couldn’t match that? This was after last season where Dean Lombardi played his cards right and got Gaborik. That same Gaborik who scored the tying goal in Game 7 while Versteeg, Handzus, and Bollig couldn’t get off the bench.
Oh, and Cody Franson was traded in the division, though acquired by a team that already had the best defensive depth in the division. Where were you, Hawks front office?
The Hawks have five days to correct this. They can’t get distracted by Kane’s injury, because the defense is still the priority. Jeff Petry, Andy Greene, Keith Yandle, at this point I don’t fucking care. Because this window is closing. They’re going to lose some major pieces in the summer and they’re going to have no choice but to fill those holes with kids their coach won’t like and who simply might not be ready for primetime.
But what about the past two years convinces you the front office can actually get it right?