We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the Hawks basically saying they have no plan, but a process. It got even better when after the Robin Lehner signing Bowman tried to claim they had several plans, but then didn’t follow any of them. It gives off the aura of a front office that really has no clue.
And that’s the way it’s seemed all summer. The Hawks knew enough to know their defense sucks, but haven’t gone about improving it in the way it needs really–only getting slower though probably more stable. They needed help at forward, but instead of trying something new or creative went on nostalgia tour again, a tactic that hasn’t worked…ever.
The reasons for the Andrew Shaw trade were discussed on the podcast last night, and perhaps reminding the casual fan of times they were more than a casual fan and trying to either keep them in or get them to the building again is a factor. We’ll never know, but we have our suspicions.
The Hawks have swung from trying to get faster two years ago (and not really doing so) to bigger now and everything in between. There isn’t a consistent theme, and there is no urgency in the hierarchy it seems. It’s kind of dark.
But on the other side of the coin, successful organizations aren’t so rigid with a philosophy that they don’t jump on an opportunity. The Hawks will claim the signing of Lehner is just that. Maybe it is. Maybe it was desperation to do something and spend money they had for the first time in forever.
The thing is, whatever the process, and however flawed said process is, the results are almost certainly going to be good. I’m actually going to do the math here instead of ballparking it like I did on the podcast. The Hawks had an .898 SV% as a team last year. That’s bad, though not worst in the league. It was seventh-worst. If the Hawks were to get a .910 across all strengths next year, and that might even be on the low side given the career marks of both Lehner and Crawford, they would give up 34 less goals on the season. By some models, that’s 10 points or more.
Now, that kind of drop would only see them go from 30th in goals-against to 20th or so. But it would have been around the same as what the Sharks, Leafs, and Capitals gave up last year and all were 100+point teams. You don’t have to be that stingy, you just have to put up any kind of resistance.
Which means the Hawks will probably get away with it. No matter how the breakdown of games between Crow and Lehner goes, the Hawks will give up less goals. Maybe a lot less goals. They’ll probably still score a lot. And Bowman and McD can beam in December or so when their record is much better, telling you they knew all along.
I’m not convinced they ever did. I still think the process is broken, whatever the results. And eventually, that will tell the tale. Or it would in any other sport. But hockey has so many broken processes, sometimes you can get away with it all the way to the top. Hell, the Hawks already did in 2015, in some ways (Timonen was never prepared to play, and Q misused Vermette until the conference final).
For the Hawks, it’s a good thing the NHL is a place where Sidney Deane’s unifying theory of life applies the most: “The sun even shines on a dog’s ass some days.”