As if the previous week and a half wasn’t enough to seal it from an intellectual and emotional standpoint, the Hawks losing both games to the Panthers this weekend has them on the brink of mathematical elimination as well, and are only spared by having scraped their way into OT on Thursday with the net empty. But if nothing else, these two games were ideal outcomes – some kids put more on tape (for both good and bad), and the glaring flaws both behind the bench and with the roster are also put on a display in a competitive game against an obviously better team that they lose. Obviously wins are more fun, but when the process matches the results. This team cannot afford to risk learning the wrong lessons with the complete dope behind the bench they’ve got currently.
Game Times: 6:00PM CST (1/17 & 1/19)
TV/Radio: NBCSN Chicago, WGN-AM 720 (1/17 & 1/19), NHLN, TVAS, SportsNet (1/17)
Polo’d Down To The Socks To The Nutsack: Litter Box Cats
After a predictable opening series in Tampa, the Hawks stay in Florida while it snows here at home to take on the Panthers in Sunrise tonight and on Tuesday. Because the Cats were slated to start the season against the infected and infested Dallas Stars, those games got moved (the first of likely many across the NHL slate this year), and tonight will be their opener, the last NHL team to do so.
RECORDS: Hawks 28-28-8 Panthers 33-25-6
PUCK DROP: 5pm
TV: NBCSN Chicago
60% OF THE TIME IT WORKS EVERY TIME: Litter Box Cats
The Hawks wrap up this funeral dirge/death rattle of a road trip in South Florida this evening, before returning home to either an indifferent but possibly more cantankerous home crowd next week. They’ll find a Panthers team right in the middle of the East playoff grinder, trying to chase down both a wildcard spot or an automatic spot in the Atlantic if it’s there. The former sees them having to leap three teams, the latter only the Leafs who seem intent on making that a possibility. Oh, and the Hawks former coach is still on the other bench.
The story with the Panthers has changed a little since just about a month ago when they were at the UC. They’re still one of the higher scoring teams in the league. And they still get mediocre-or-worse goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky (OH BOB! YOU CAME AND YOU TOOK OUR MONEY! AND NOW YOU CAN’T SWAT PUCKS AWAY! OH BOB!). This is not a metrically sound team either, as you would have expected out of a Quenneville-led outfit with this much talent on display. They outshoot their problems for their record, which they can do with Huberdeau having a career-year and Barkov his usual brilliant self, along with My Kaufmann a line lower.
So as he is wont to do, Dale Tallon made some changes at the deadline, and some changes that take some figuring out. Vincent Trocheck certainly had issues staying healthy, but he was a genuine #2 center. But Tallon moved him out at the deadline for useful, bottom six pieces in Lucas Wallmark and Erik Haula. Some Panthers observers had said Trocheck’s defensive game wasn’t what it was, and Wallmark and Haula especially should bring more of that. The Cats probably need that if Bob isn’t going to bail them out regularly. And Eetu Luostarinen is considered something of a prospect, so maybe the numbers make it a better deal than it looks at first. Given Tallon’s recent history in Sunrise though…
You sort of wonder if Tallon shouldn’t have been looking for blue line help now instead of down the road. Ekblad and Weegar (I almost forgot my fellow babies…) have been effective on the top pairing, but pretty much everyone else has been going backwards. We know what Keith Yandle can’t do, and Anton Stralman is turning odd colors in the sun at this age. Mike Matheson is certainly rich, but anything beyond that is a mystery.
The race between the Panthers and Leafs for the third spot is certainly entertaining, as both teams attempt to stake their spot without really any goaltender they can count on between them. The wildcard chase is no less dense, though you’d have to figure the Rangers will eventually sink away and the pixie dust for the Jackets has to run out sometime. That leaves the Panthers tussling with the Canes, who also don’t have a goalie at the moment (almost literally). It would be a big disappointment for the Cats to miss the playoffs, given the investments in Bobrovsky and Quenneville and their recent history. Hoffman, Dadanov, and Haula are all free agents after the season, and the first two are in line for sizable raises. So will Weegar as an RFA. This might be as good as it gets for the Cats, which isn’t good enough.
As for the Hawks, not much to report. One would think that Crawford will finish out the road trip to build off his win in Tampa, and that Subban could possibly make his debut against the softer landing of the Ducks or with the back-to-back against EdMo and Detroit next week. Shouldn’t be too many, or any, other lineup changes with Strome back at center and Koekkoek back on the third pairing. Possibly Nick Seeler back in for Carlsson or Boqvist to waster all of our time.
Note: This seems to have fallen at a place on the calendar when all of us have schedule conflicts. So there might not be Twitter or a recap for this one, though we are currently efforting that. Sorry, just one of those things.
As the favorite blog of Vancouver Femdoms, we were all ready to have daddy come back to the house and drag the Hawks around by the feedbag. But in a role reversal, the Hawks played a mostly decent game that was undone by several soft goals. Though losing the last game before the break isn’t ideal, especially with the two teams right above them—the Jets and Knights—losing tonight, winning five of the last six is much, much better than we thought. Let’s wrap it up for the break.
– Joel Quenneville deserves everything he got tonight and more. It won’t ever not be weird to see him coaching another team. It may have been his time to go from here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still miss what he did. The Florida feed showed the whole video tribute, and it was a really nice gesture to one of the most decorated and respected coaches in Chicago franchise history. We bitched about him all the time, but we also love and loved him. It was all very nice and well earned.
– Kirby Dach was phenomenal tonight from start to finish. His puck handling skills and vision already have elite potential, and he showed both skills off a ton in the first. He had three plays in the oZ where he managed to not only keep the puck in the zone but also set up the next barrage of plays that followed. He did outstanding work behind the net in the first as well.
The most promising thing about him is that he’s not afraid to fight for the puck in tight quarters, and tonight, he won just about every puck battle he had. His backhander for the Hawks’s first goal was divine, as he made everything happen after receiving a DeBrincat pass at the blue line and placed a perfect shot high short-side on Bob. And the numbers flesh out the performance: He led all Hawks in CF% at 5v5 (72+) and finished second only to Olli Maatta in xGF% (72+).
He’s got the potential to be a cornerstone.
– On the other side, Robin Lehner had probably his worst game as a Blackhawk. Each of the first three goals he gave up were soft. Dadonov’s goal was inexcusable, as Lehner just got overpowered by a backhand stuff shot. Each of Frankie “Medium Pussy” Vatrano’s first two goals were goals that Lehner usually has: The first you can maybe give some leeway—with Koekkoek in the vicinity, DeBrincat watching the play develop from the slot, and Dach taking the wrong route to cover Toninato behind the net—but the second was an easy five-hole shot we’re accustomed to seeing him stop. Not a referendum, but certainly a disappointment.
– Don’t look now, but Slater Koekkoek has been really, really good lately. Tonight was a continuance of that trend, with Koekkoek leading all Hawks D-men in CF% (69+) and posting a very good 70+ xGF%. Ben Pope recently wrote an article about how moving over to the right side, which is his off side, has seemed to unlock something in him. Granted, it’s third-pairing duties and it’s a small sample size, but having an at least passable bottom pairing can give the Hawks an outside shot at this wild card. I wouldn’t bet on it continuing, giving his career track record, but he’s been undeniably good for the Hawks recently.
– Adam Boqvist had a hot-and-cold game tonight. He showed good patience and tenacity facing down a 2-on-1 early in the game. With Trocheck bearing down on him, Boqvist took away the passing lane then hit the ice, forcing Trocheck to go both to the outside and his backhand, giving Lehner a much easier save. He also finished with two shots on goal, led all Hawks four hits (extreme jerking off motion), and led the Hawks in PP TOI, so he was active out there.
But as is becoming a trend, he got too deferential on the PP at the end of the game. The Panthers were happy to give him 10 feet of space knowing that he was going to go right back to Kane at the first opportunity. Once he either gets the order or the gumption to just start firing wristers when that happens, it’s going to be an epiphany. For now, it’ll remain a minor annoyance.
– Patrick Kane scored his 1,001st point tonight with a booming shot off a Dach cross-ice pass. He looked a little off his game up to that point, but it’s still awesome in the most literal sense of the word when he’s got it working out there.
The outcome may not have been what we wanted, but the effort was there. Had the Hawks gotten the goaltending they’re accustomed to, they likely come out of it on top. That Dach was the best player on the ice should be encouraging to everyone, both for now and into the future. We’d still be shocked if the Hawks made a playoff run out of it, but they’ve come together pretty well over the last couple of weeks, and they’ve been mostly fun doing it.
We’re sure to have some thoughts for you about the team over the break while Sam does whatever it is Mavens do in their down time. For now, having won five of the last six and forcing themselves onto the fringes of a wild card spot, we can safely say this is a much better spot to be in than we thought we’d have.
Onward in 10 days.
Beer du Jour: Michter’s Small Batch and Ellie’s Brown Ale
Line of the Night: “Dale’s fine.” Quenneville on working with Tallon in Florida.
Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Sunrise Mustaches: Litter Box Cats
Ordinarily two teams meeting one another while both riding five game winning streaks, with each heading into their bye week after the matchup would be enough of a stage-setter for a pretty decent game, especially one between teams with some of the scoring prowess that each possess. But all of that takes a back seat tonight on West Madison.
There’s little point in talking about anyone else.
It’s a sad commentary on Chicago sports as a whole that Joel Quenneville’s only peer in success around here is Phil Jackson. That’s it. That’s all you get. The only other coach to win multiple championships is George Halas, and seeing as how none of them were Super Bowls no one really gives a flying fuck. Or anyone who did is dead. Even if you were to expand this list to coaches that have brought just one championship downtown, it’s three names: Guillen, Maddon, Ditka. How pathetic is that? Hell, if you wanted to add the names of coaches who even just got their teams to a championship round, it’s just two more: Smith and Keenan. Lord, what a place.
Anyway, there won’t be a solitary angle that isn’t covered tonight by Q’s return to Chicago. And that’s probably as it should be. For all the shit we give the Hawks hierarchy, and most of it is deserved, you have to still hand it to them for the swift and ruthless decision to not waste a second of time with the most promising roster in franchise history on a coach who didn’t know what he was doing and bringing in an expert. Had they waited even a half-season, maybe the Hawks don’t rocket up the standings in ’09 and make a conference final run that showed them what it would take. Maybe ’09-’10 is more of a developmental year than an all-systems-go one. Considering the cap problems (of their own making), if they don’t win in ’10, the whole thing could be so, so different.
Quenneville came in and immediately recognized that his team needed to play at a pace no one else, or at least only a handful of teams, could. Savard probably knew this but didn’t have any idea on how to implement that. The stories of practice being hellishly paced but short immediately started leaking out, with players being made to do laps for being last to huddles or drills. Speed, speed, speed. This is how everything will be done. Can’t argue with the results.
The funny thing is it was the same way at the end, and it still couldn’t save Q’s job. After he got done pouting about the trade of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Q seemed to be the only one in the whole organization who realized his team wasn’t nearly fast enough. He still might be. That’s why he immediately installed Henri Jokiharju on the top pairing. That’s why he was actually toying with keeping Adam Boqvist around last year. He knew the problems that were ahead and these were the only solutions available. Hawks could use more eyes like his now, still.
That begs the question of whether it was right to fire him. Separate it from the hiring of Colliton, and you’d still conclude it probably was. No matter how good things go, if you show up to work and hear the same voice as your boss for 11 years, you get sick of it. The Hawks core seemed to accept that, even if they didn’t particularly like it. Certainly the younger players weren’t all that upset, but going back that far how many of them actually mattered? DeBrincat and…yeah, that’s it. Schmaltz is gone. Hinostroza is gone. Jokiharju is gone. Hartman is gone. Give you some idea of the directionless nature of the whole operation when they fired a coach partly because they didn’t think he was treating their young players well, and then they get rid of almost all of those young players.
But tonight isn’t really about that, nor is it about the litany of complaints we came up with during Q’s reign here. It’s about all the things he did that worked, not the crazy experiments or juggling or Trevor van Riemsdyk. It’s about letting a young team letting it all hang out with just the boundaries of a defensive structure in ’09 and ’10. It’s about dragging a hungover and barely focused team in ’11 to the cusp of a huge upset. It’s about surviving the first clash of coach and GM in 2012 and Toews missing half the season and Crawford’s dip in form and revitalizing both the following season into an unholy beast of a team. It’s about turning Johnny Oduya and Hjalmarsson into the best rhythm guitarists in the league for three years. Even though it took a Daniel Carcillo injury to even get Brandon Saad into the lineup, it was then about a Saad-Toews-Hossa line that no one could do much about.
Yeah, we’re still angry about sending out Handzus and Bollig for the last faceoff of ’14. Van Riemsdyk, again. Insisting on veteran help for the ’16 team that cost the Hawks Phillip Danault. And then not playing that veteran help. The policy of bringing back players he already trusted. It’s all of it, really.
At the end of the day though, it’s three parades (almost four). Three celebrations. Three impossible journeys negotiated, each with varying challenges. Perhaps Q’s greatest strength as a coach was the confidence and relaxed nature he instilled in the Hawks at the most tense times. The ’09 team blew its first road playoff games against a veteran team. They simply mauled the Flames from there. They trailed the Canucks in ’09 after Game 1, Game 3, and were four minutes away from being down 3-1. No problem. Strut into Vancouver for the biggest game of their lives and gleefully walk out with a win. Wasn’t even that hard.
The ’10 team was down 1-0 and two goals against Vancouver. Never looked bothered and essentially blew the Canucks out of the water from there on out. Lost a 2-0 lead in the Final. Win Game 5 by five goals. Three minutes from the Cup and lose the lead in Game 6. No matter, get it in overtime.
The list of this keeps going. Down 3-0 and quite frankly overmatched? Push to the absolute limit. Watching the most dominant season in team history nearly washed away by your oldest enemy? Win the next three, including coming back in the 3rd in Game 6 facing elimination and then overcoming an egregiously bad call in Game 7. Crow has one bad game in the Final? Who gives a shit, we’ll get it anyway.
Down to four d-men in ’15? They’ll find a way through. Everyone’s dying of exhaustion? We’ll hold the Lighting to two goals over three games.
There wasn’t ever a challenge that not only the Hawks didn’t think they could overcome, but they thought was even a big deal. Everything was an opportunity. A chance to do something great. That was Q’s biggest credit. Making this team that had accomplished nothing believe it could do anything instantly, and then would do anything because it had to be done. That was probably the most enjoyable part. No obstacle too high or ditch to deep. Q’s team would find the way, because it’s what they did.
Beyond all the line shuffling or arguments with Stan Bowman or hunches he had to play, that was his ultimate feature. And we were all rewarded. We’ll owe him forever for that.
TVR still sucks though, Q.
The erstwhile Andrew Cieslak rejoins us in honor of the Quenneville Bowl, and despite the Internet Monster almost inhaling John, the four of us manage to discuss the larger implications of this recent stretch of competence. As always, no subscription required.
I know that sounds strange, but come with me. When Versteeg “retired” from the Icehogs a couple weeks ago, he cited the far more physical nature of the AHL. Because it is filled with guys trying to get noticed, and there are far too many people on both sides of the discussion who think getting noticed means throwing your body and fists around like you’re caught in the Oz tornado, it simply was too much for Versteeg. He said it was in a lot of ways “easier” to play in the NHL. We’ve heard this about the A for eternity.
If the idea of the AHL is as a developmental league, why wouldn’t more teams want their farm teams to play the way those players will play when they’re called up? This was a big question in the last years of Joel Quenneville‘s reign here, as the Hawks prospects and fill-ins were playing one system in Rockford and it was little secret why they looked a touch lost up here.
The only comparison is baseball, which has its own established developmental system (I recognized the NBA does too but that is for more fringe players). And yet I don’t believe Dylan Cease was being instructed to throw at everyone’s head when in Charlotte or Javy Baez was told to take any shortstop out at the knee trying to break up a double-play (don’t tell me Sox fans wouldn’t have loved it if he was though). Both baseball front offices in town have talked endlessly about instilling a way to play throughout the entire organization. Why do you never hear this in hockey? Is it because a lot of players don’t even enter it, coming from college or Europe? That would seem a tad flimsy.
I ask this because the I don’t get the impression that Adam Boqvist is going to learn much about the NHL game in Winnebago County. I’m not sure anyone does. And the longer the Hawks keep him there, either they’re souring on him, or they’re putting off any Seabrook decision as long as they can, or he’s going to just plateau in a game that doesn’t reflect the one the Hawks eventually want him to flourish within.
While there’s certainly a physical element to the NHL game, teams are much more concentrated these days on being fast and carrying the puck in whenever possible. The real skills Boqvist needs are gap control and angles, things which he actually already is pretty decent. Yes, there are times he’s going to have to learn how to retrieve a puck in the corner and not get massacred, but he also can’t emulate NHL speed at the AHL either. And he has to do that far more often in a league that seems only to care about hitting and grinding. It’s just not the NHL game.
I ask these questions, not because the Hawks called up another plodder in Dennis Gilbert (though that’s part of it), but look around at any good d-man under the age of 25 and see how many games they played in the AHL. I was watching Carolina last night, and Brett Pesce and Jakob Slavin–the anchors of that blue line on a very good team–played a combined 21 games in the AHL. We know the current two best rookies, Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, never stepped foot there. The argument is that Makar had two years of college and Hughes one, while Boqvist only had one year of juniors. College probably is a touch higher, and maybe even more so, which would lead one to wonder why more teams don’t steer their prospects to college but that’s another discussion.
Jacob Trouba never played in the AHL. Hampus Lindholm half of a season. Seth Jones came out of junior and never stepped foot there. Neither did Ivan Provorov, who came from juniors as well. Brandon Carlo played seven games there. Mikhail Sergachev never played there either. Neither did Miro Heiskanen. Samuel Girard played six games. The Hawks might say that Jokiharju spent a half season there and now he’s flourishing with the Sabres, or at least playing well, but that won’t make you or me feel any better.
I’m not saying Boqvist has already missed the boat here. A couple of these guys played 30-40 games in the AHL. And even if the Hawks keep him there all season simply because they’re too scared to sit Seabrook long term, or Maatta, or are waiting to buy either of them out in the summer, it doesn’t mean Boqvist will have turned. The Hawks could get away with it.
It would simply be a waste of time. He’s not learning that much there, and a lot of what he could be learning doesn’t apply to the NHL. And that’s if you trust the Hawks developmental system in North America, which in recent seasons has given them…um…hang on I’ll get this….Phillip Danault? Yeah…that was four seasons ago. If you want to find the last defenseman…well, we’ve had that talk and you didn’t like it the first time.
It seems the Hawks are still counting on their Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy path (something about guys named Nick). As we know, Hammer spent about half or more of the 08-09 season with the Hogs after getting a brief look in 2008 before coming up, pairing with Brian Campbell on the Hawks run to the conference final and was entrenched therein. The Hawks gave Leddy a sampling in the AHL after bringing him straight from The U., but he got a bonus half-season there thanks to the lockout and was something of a different player when he returned to the ’13 team.
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Well there are a couple of quite familiar faces, aren’t they? The departed namesake and an instant hall of fame coach will try to bring a level of sustained competitive hockey to south Florida that they haven’t seen since…well…ever. As batshit as it sounds, Uncle Dale and Joel Quenneville never even spent a full season together here in Chicago, but they’re going to try to make this thing work in Sunrise even if it kills them both. And it just might, but at least now they’ll leave behind nice bronzed and pickled corpses.
36-32-14 86 Pts, 5th in the Atlantic
3.22 GF/G (9th), 3.33 GA/G (28th), -13 GD
49.42% CF (16th), 48.45% xGF (20th)
PP 26.8% (2nd), PK 81.3% (10th)
Goaltending: In a full 180 from a trick they had been pulling for the couple seasons previous wherein the Cats got solid netminding from an aging Roberto Luongo and James Reimer filling in whenever something fell off of him, last season the Panthers got absolutely no goaltending to help out what was a pretty spiky offense. Luongo started 40 games last year and arguably posted the worst numbers of his era-spanning career with an .899 overall and only a .906 at evens. Reimer was only a hair better at .900 and .909 respectively. Luongo decided that was enough to call it a career, and did so officially which hilariously dicked over the Canucks in having to eat the recapture penalty for the contraband contract they signed him to. Reimer took whatever he’s got left in the tank up the coast to Carolina, leaving Uncle Dale to have to revamp his entire goaltending infrastructure. Fortunately for him, there was an aging veteran in Sergei Bobrovsky who couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of Columbus and take the bags and bags of money everyone knew Dale was going to throw at him. Bob got a max seven-year term from the Panthers at $10 million per, which should take him until he’s 37. Even with the goaltending career curve being far more protracted than other positions, there’s always a risk of Bobrovsky’s crotch detaching given the high wire style he plays, and Joel Quenneville isn’t exactly known for his judicious management of goaltending workloads. Still, the Panthers were looking for an infusion of excitement both by landing a name and by potentially making some noise in the post-season. Bobrovsky certainly should get him there even if a) his overall save percentage numbers have been in decline for three years while staying healthy, and b) only last season did he have even a representative playoff run, having absolutely shat himself with the Jackets two trips previous. As of right now, 22-year-old Sam Montrembleaut will get first crack at the backup role, but it could be a rotating cast of thousands if Bob doesn’t play 70 games. Which he just might.
Defense: Once again Joel Quenneville will have an honsest-to-god #1 defenseman to work with, in this case it’s Aaron Eklbad, who somehow is still only 23-years-old. Q likes his top pairing guys to be able to do everything, and Ekblad is certainly capable. Over the past few seasons his overall possession rate isn’t necessarily one that’d be associated with a do-it-all blue liner, but when taking into consideration that he’s had the toughest starts out of necessity and has been paired with Keith Yandle for two years, the picture starts to get a little clearer. And the fact that Quenneville hasn’t personally drowned Yandle with his barehands in some secluded corner of the Everglades and then chopped up his body on a fanboat is truly an upset. Anton Stralman moved a little east from Tampa to Sunrise in the offseason, and while he’s always been a textbook 2nd pairing puck mover, last year he finally started to show some signs of wearing down. No one is quite sure what it is Mike Matheson does or who he is, but Dale is paying him a fairly hefty salary at $4.75 mildo to do it until the entire state is submerged. Mark Pysyk is a hold over from the Computer Boys era, so Quenneville will hate him and put him at forward. At the very least he’ll call him Mike Kostka if only out of spite.
Forwards: Sasha Barkov is probably the best kept secret in the league, and if Q and Bob have any kind of positive impact on this team, that probably won’t be the case for much longer. Barkov is probably the second best two-way player in the league behind Patrice Bergeron now that both Toews and Kopitar have aged out of that level of effectiveness. Barkov absolutely erupted for 96 points nobody saw last year when he finally had two competent full time linemates in a healthy Jonathan Huberdeau and the very shoosty Mike Hoffman, who had 92 and 70 points themselves respectively. Evgeni Dadonov was a nice surprise (albeit at 30) with 70 points of his own despite the fact that a hurt Vincent Trochek only played 55 games last year, and was hindered when he did play. If he bounces back to his formerly reliable 50+ point output, particularly with Brett Connolly here to now provide a bit more scoring depth, the Cats could have a little bit more bite (GET IT?) to an offense that was already top-10.
Outlook: Barring injuries, or Sasha Barkov turning to dust under the workload Quenneville is certain to give him, the Panthers have made enough improvements to interject themselves into the playoff picture in the east, more than likely as a wild card, as the top three spots in the Atlantic seem fairly secure in Tampa, Boston, and Toronto. There are enough “ifs” here to not make it a completely foregone conclusion, but if Bobrovsky is even slightly above league average as he declines, Quenneville’s system is one of the few in the league that produces actual, tangible results almost immediately, and the Panthers weren’t that far off the playoff pace last year. And January 21st at Club 1901 is sure to be a highly emotional reunion, count on that.
Previous Team Previews
Maybe it took me a week to really come to terms with this breakdown of Paul Fenton’s firing in Minnesota. Maybe I needed a week to remember why I should care about the Minnesota Wild (and I still don’t). Maybe it was just the time of year and things are moving more slowly. But if you haven’t read Michael Russo’s article here, you really should. Just not for the hilarity or schadenfreude of it–and there’s plenty–but then come to realize that it’s probably hardly unique in the NHL.
I can’t decide what my favorite part was. The immediate dismissal of a pretty impressive analytics team that’s so NHL it seems too scripted to work. The never actually scouting Viktor Rask before trading one of your best players for him. The being at the Pats Super Bowl parade mere weeks before the trade deadline while the Wild were self-immolating. The constant fear of leaks. The fascination with players who suck, and have clearly proven they suck.
And it’s easy to point and laugh…but can’t you see some elements happening here? Especially the fascination with certain players, i.e. ones that have played for them before. While I don’t think the Hawks just skip the due diligence part of players they trade for…Kimmo Timonen would like a word. Yeah, that was a long time ago, and recent trades like Caggiula have worked out ok (though they seem to have soured on Perlini pretty quickly, but he was the throw-in in that deal). Still, their fascination with players they already know has a very familiar ring to it.
Also you could probably make a link to the dismissal of analytics here as well, as there’s simply no way the Hawks have paid any attention to it, otherwise you wouldn’t be trading for Olli Maatta.
What’s kind of amazing is how bad Fenton was allowed to be at his job. Can you imagine some of this going on in any other sport? I mean, maybe with the Pirates or Knicks or Raiders or something, but those are known basketcase organizations. The Wild aren’t supposed to be that. They’re not the model franchise or anything–even though they loved to tell people that–but they haven’t been moronic. They just haven’t been all that noticeable. This is noticeable.
And this was hardly Fenton’s first job, and you can easily see where he’ll get another because this is the NHL. No one ever dies in the NHL, they’re just moved to a different office…or wherever Bob Pulford is now.
I suppose the question I have to ask is where was any of this when it was actually going on? I know the answer is that people are way more willing to talk when the dude has already been canned and there’s no fear of repercussions, but surely someone or someones knew about some of this while it was happening. Wouldn’t an outing and reporting of it had a chance of stopping the idiocy to come?
The protection of information is hardly germane to the Wild and Fenton. We see it with every team in hockey, and increasingly sports. These days, when teams have their own bullhorns–website, twitter, instagram, facebook, all with their own staff and writers–there’s little need to get anything to the press unwillingly. You can spin anything how you want before anyone even knows it’s a thing. Still, you have to feel that Fenton’s trip to the Pats’ parade from his job in St. Paul is something that should have been a big deal at the moment. What happened there?
You can’t help but think of the dysfunction in the Hawks’ front office, and yet we’ve had to (get ready Fifth Feather) read tea leaves to even suss that out. It was clear that Q and Stan Bowman couldn’t get along at the end, and were only getting along before because the team in place was winning. But we had to put it all together. Somehow, they were able to keep that all in house, and only after Stan basically admitted to spiking Q with Brandon Manning did we get official confirmation of how deep the dysfunction went. Five or ten years from now, the tell-all book is going to be comedy on a Python-esque level.
We know that the consolidation and shrinking of media is bad in a lot more important areas than sports. We know that everyone having an Insta or Twitter means players or anyone else can talk directly to fans with whatever message they want (that sometimes ends up way worse). We know teams have gotten better and better about keeping everything under wraps, even with all the avenues we have now.
I guess that’s how some of this patently ridiculous shit can go on with a team like the Wild even over as short of a span as a year. But I can’t imagine this level of mismanagement is unique to St. Paul. And you wonder how goons keep getting jobs…