It's coming up to the All-Star break here in Chicago, and we must hand out our midseason awards for The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Surprising. With the season at it's midway point, and the 'Hawks smelling a postseason for the first time since 2001, Chicago is buzzing about hockey. Let's not waste any time and get into the awards.
Team MVP: Patrick Sharp, C.
Most people would put up one of the two 20-year-olds, Kane or Toews, but Patrick Sharp seems to be the glue of this team. He leads the team in Goals, and is taking the leadership role of a young and inexperienced team.
When Kane got hurt, Sharp pumped them up and the 'Hawks didn't lose without him. He is the mentor to this young team and his teachings are working considering they are continuously winning. My apologies to Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Team LVP: Cristobal Huet
With this team playing so well as of late, somebody had to be the goat, and it's new goalie of the future Huet. He may be a year younger than Nikolai Khabibulin, but sometimes he plays like a kid playing on a rink back home. Most of the time, you would figure that's great because he is having fun, but not this time.
He plays with the skill set of a ten year old sometimes, leaving an empty net to pass the puck to an opposing team mistakenly—costing a goal against Detroit. He also got shelled at the Winter Classic, causing him to be embarrassingly replaced by Nik in the third period.
He doesn't play up to the four-year deal that the Blackhawks gave him. That is why Nik is still here, because they aren't comfortable with Huet taking it solo yet.
Unsung Hero: Dave Bolland
Bolland is the unsung hero of this team. He works hard every shift, and one night, Quenneville let him know how much he meant to this team by playing him more than any other Blackhawk in a game earlier this season.
He may not always show up in the stats every game, but his difference is noticed by the fans, teammates, and other teams. His play is only getting stronger as the season goes on.
My apologies to Matt Walker and Andrew Ladd who also deserved a look for this award.
Surprising Moment of the Season: The Winning Streak
The 'Hawks racked up a nine-game winning streak. They weren't lucky wins either. Chicago outplayed every opponent in every game and dominated some of them. I was in attendance at the game that started it all—Phoenix, and Phoenix barely had any time on attack even after Chicago let up and played possession in the Coyote end.
While I know firing Denis Savard, a fan favorite, and his return so quickly to the organization as an ambassador were both surprising, I don't think anyone thought this team would win nine in a row.
Player 'Hawks Should Trade For: Vincent Lecavalier
He already has a long-term deal in place and is one of the best players in hockey. He has been stuck in the Tampa hockey abyss.
He would be a big help to a guy like Toews because they have similar size and skill set. We are set on defense, in fact, we might have too much defense and the goalie situation is the same story. A veteran forward is what this young team needs.
Story of the Half Year: When the entire team took two unheated buses to the funeral of General Manager Dale Tallon's father after a road game in Toronto.
It really reminds fans that athletes still care, that they are a family, and will sacrifice to go out of the way to let their "family" know that. Media and fans everywhere took note of this story.
Disappointment So Far: Losing the Winter Classic
The Classic may have been very successful and the biggest buzz around Chicago since the Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006. It was also the hardest ticket to find. The Classic was one big leap forward for the NHL, but with how the Blackhawks lost it, only one thing was proven.
They aren't there yet with Detroit. They will get there, but as of right now, they aren't there yet. The Red Wings outplayed them up and down the ice and showed utter dominance over this young team.
This second half should be very fun. How far will Quenneville take these young 'Hawks? Can they compete with Detroit and San Jose? Will Tallon bring in a veteran scorer to help these young guys when they hit a cold streak?
There are many questions for the rest of this exciting season, but the truth is, the answers, whether they are good or bad, make this season an exciting one for the Chicago fan.
The future is bright in Chicago. How bright will they shine this year? We'll have to see.
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