Everything Else

Hey all. You may have noticed we have been dark for a little bit lately. That’s how it usually goes. The last two weeks of August are dead time anyway, and we kind of use it to recharge for what’s ahead. Friday we’ll have our award-winning, world-famous Bears roundtable, which we know you’re just dying for.

But after that, it’ll be time to kick the pig for the new season, and boy do we have plans for that.

Everything Else

With the NHL starting in mere days, remember that hockey is also gearing up for the Blackhawks affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Rockford IceHogs. I’m excited to begin my third season reporting on the IceHogs for TCI. I look forward to checking in weekly to fill you in on all Rockford shenanigans.

As would be expected, roster turnover is rampant in the Forest City. Depending on how Hawks brass decide to deal with the last few names on the depth chart, there could be more faces of both new and vintage variety skating at the BMO Harris Bank Center this season.

Unlike the NHL, there are no roster limits in the AHL. Still, the IceHogs usually don’t carry more than 24-25 players during the season. Some of the late moves by the Hawks may alter the makeup of the Hogs roster.

The situation at goalie and defense seem fairly stable for the time being. The most chaotic area roster wise is shaping up to be at forward, so let’s use that as our jumping off point.

Everything Else

Well, probably not. But these posts can’t be three words long.

It’s amazing what can happen for a player like Kane when he gets an actual line with which to play. After spending years with the likes of Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw and Kris Versteeg or centering a line or whatever other jokers and punters the Hawks could drudge up rather than just playing him with Toews, Kane got Brad Richards two years ago and finally a center and other winger in Panarin and Anisimov. It resulted in an Art Ross and Hart Trophy.

And the Hawks needed all of it with Saad and Sharp gone, Hossa falling off, Toews not being able to produce a top line’s production all by himself, and basically no bottom six for most of the season. The problem for the Hawks is that they might find themselves in the same bind again this year. And this time, other teams are not going to be fooled by the names of Toews or Hossa and leave their best out against them instead of Kane’s line.

Everything Else

I don’t know if there’s excitement over Nick Schmaltz’s potential to contribute to the Hawks or more desperation after looking up and down the forwards and realizing he’s about the best chance for any secondary scoring. If it’s the latter… that’s not a good thing, as Corky St. Clair would tell us.

It’s hard to gauge what to even expect out of Schmaltz. The Hawks seemed pretty frantic to get him out of Grand Forks (sidenote: shouldn’t it be easy to convince someone to get out Grand Forks), which gives you the idea that they want him here and  not Rockford. Perhaps they think that much of him, perhaps they see the lack of anyone who can make a play in the offensive zone outside of Toews and The Fun Time Boys on the second line. Most likely, it’s a combination of the two.

But it isn’t exactly easy to make the jump from a sophomore in college to contributor in the NHL. Is there recent precedent?

Everything Else

When the Hawks opened camp on Friday, we discussed what their biggest problem is, and that’s forward depth. Today might be a good day to swing at the other side, before we spend the rest of this in the middle (sounds like life). And that’s the Hawks’ defense.

Which sounds strange to say, because the Hawks’ defense last year was most certainly not a strength. And some of those problems could be problems this year, too. Duncan Keith’s knee is not really ever going to be “better.” That may be nothing or it may be something, and that something may be down the line. Once you remove that cartilage though, it’s not like it regrows. And he was clearly off by a half-step last year.

Secondly, if Brent Seabrook is still ordering the menu at Manny’s on the way to the morning skate, then there are still issues that Brian Campbell is not going to solve. So far so good, on that front, but we’ll see what the real games have to say.

What we do know is that the signing of 51 Phantom is going to solve a lot of problems.

Everything Else

I never know quite what to do with these season previews. To go player-by-player gets monotonous for you and for us, but there isn’t really way to do something every day either. We’ve tried multiple paths, so this year we’re just going to blend them all. Over the next couple weeks before Meth County shows up on the 12th to kick things off, we’ll look at certain players, certain questions, and certain other factors on how this season will go. We can’t be contained.

So today, it feels right to look at the Hawks biggest problem, and that’s their forward depth and specifically, who the fuck is playing  the left side on any of these lines?

Everything Else

Now that we’ve laid out what we think about the Hawks, it’s probably time to peruse the other squads they’ll actually be competing with in the division and the West. And looking around, it’s hard to find a team that has taken a huge step forward to a point these Hawks can’t reach (assuming everything goes right for them). The only one that looks poised for a major leap, while knowing that one or two teams will get one through luck or weirdness, is Dallas. But Dallas looked like that last year, and it doesn’t look like they’ll take a big enough jump to overtake the Hawks. Let’s get through it all.

Everything Else

Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins probably deserve their own posts, but to be honest and fair with you I’m pretty sick of writing these and we’ve got other fish to fry next week. So let’s wrap it all up, take the weekend, and get ready for the season next week (whatever the hell it’s gonna be).

Marcus Kruger – Poor guy has been in a holding pattern all summer. It took until the eve of camp for Kruger even to get a contract for this year, even though he’s more than earned a multi-year deal that he’s watched pretty much all his other core teammates get. Then he had to wait for visa problems to clear before he could arrive at camp late. Good thing he’s a good soldier, huh?

Everything Else

Oh goody, the best for last.

While the temptation or urge to go off the deep end here exists, I’ll keep this to on the ice as much as I can. Obviously, there’s still a chance he’s going to miss some time for something, so we’ll factor that in. But don’t worry, there won’t be any preaching here. At least I hope not. And figuring out what he’ll do on the ice is a pretty big mystery in itself.

Everything Else

Did you forget he was on the team? I kind of forgot he was on the team. We’ve all assumed he’d be traded for so long, and the Hawks clearly have tried to trade him hard, that now that we’re here you kind of just assumed it already happened. But it hasn’t, he’s still here, and one has to assume if he’s here by now he’s probably not going anywhere. Bickell has become one of the least liked Hawks, and it’s basically because he signed a contract he was offered (whether Stan Bowman was actually the one offer him that contract has been up for debate, but it doesn’t matter now). Bickell’s been just about what he’s always been, except now he’s got even balkier knees and a brain that might slowly be turning into oatmeal.

So what’s in store of Bicks?