Going to pause our season preview a bit and just clean up some stuff today.
-I think it’s best to delve into what bothers me most about this whole Saad-at-center thing. I’m not opposed to experimentation in camp, because it’s the best time to do it. And while every beat writer seems to want to race each other in being the first to say it looks pretty good so far, here’s my biggest issue (and it’s not that there are two natural centers right there for the choosing, although it’s close).
The Hawks are not blessed with power forwards. Bryan Bickell is considered one, and at times he is. But as all of you who have watched the Hawks closely for years know, he’s not always. Maybe he will be now with continued top six time, but have we seen him do it for a season?
As far as other physical, forechecking wingers, you’d have to include Marian Hossa. But with his back issues and age, can we for sure count on him to do that all season? It’s hard to say yes. In fact, it would probably be best if Hossa gets some of the same treatment that Handzus should get and just gets nights off from time to time.
Andrew Shaw? God knows he wants to, but he’s pretty small. Determined, yes. But not going to shake the walls consistently.
Brandon Saad is a genuine power forward. They don’t grow on trees. He’s a straight line to the net and nothing gets in his way. He’s a disruptor behind the goal line with his play, and he can’t do that from the pivot when he won’t be first in the zone. He’s a finisher, and playing him with two other finishers robs him of what he does best. Especially when you have two guys who can do what he can do in the middle probably close to equally as well, but almost no one to do what Saad does on the wing as well.
Ever since I was about six or seven, my brother and I longed for the day the Hawks would have a Rick Tocchet (without the betting slips). They have one now. So why are they trying to make him Peter Zezel?
-While Comcast may not have picked up on what may have really been going on with Kane’s reaction to Stan Bowman’s assertion that both he and Toews would be here forever, it was pretty easy to see.
I don’t want to wade too deeply into it. Maybe it’s nothing more than Kane knowing he doesn’t have to cede any leverage after Stan ceded all his. But maybe there’s more to it.
Maybe Kane one day wants to be the actual centerpiece to an organization, and not just 1A here with Toews. Maybe he’d like to captain a team, which he’d never do here. Maybe Kane would like to be the league’s first $10 million player, which he won’t get here. If you think that’s silly, remember Kane will be a 27-year old UFA with two rings (at least), a Conn Smythe, perhaps an Art Ross, and Buffalo will have oodles of space to throw at him. Maybe the Islanders moving to Brooklyn want to make a real splash before they arrive and throw Kane next to Tavares. It’s not ridiculous to think Kane could get that, if you add in that he’s far more marketable than Crosby or Ovie at this point in their careers. Especially if he plays a crucial role in the US winning gold in Sochi.
Or maybe Kane just wants to go home to Buffalo at some point. Maybe Kane would prefer somewhere where his nocturnal habits aren’t consistently front page news, like Miami or L.A. where hockey takes a significant backseat.
Whatever the case, he’s under no obligation to just simply walk through the door that Stan flung open. It won’t be a story this year, but it could be next year if Kane doesn’t sign up next summer. Maybe he’ll just want a new challenge.
Maybe he was just throwing quotes in the air. But it sure felt like there was a little more there.
Weekend Music Pick
Please, like it could be anything else but a Replacements Weekend…