Chicago on the Verge
A piece here and there
It’s up to Rocky Wirtz and Dale Tallon to make the right changes and additions to a club that was just scratch and claw away from making the playoffs.
Rocky Wirtz has taken a club, held down for years by his father, and given it back to the city of Chicago. Television deals have been made, the team is promoting itself and the seats are being filled. Pride has returned to Chicago and the fans love the changes made to this proud franchise.
For years, the Blackhawks have been a cellar team and playing for nothing more than high draft picks and those are starting to pay off. The three, five, or seven year plan is starting to come together.
Last year with Kane, Toews and Byfuglien entering the big show, Chicago has started playing like many fans knew they could.
Last season was a win here and there short of making the playoffs. It was not so many years ago when Chicago was an annual post season team. With that said, there has to be a few changes to take the Blackhawks to the next level.
GM Dale Tallon will have to add some veteran depth to the defense and help his younger defensemen and goaltending out. Khabibulin has the ability to win a game on his own, but expecting this every night and every game is impossible.
With some depth along with Sopel, guys like Cam Barker, Brent Seabrook Duncan Keith and James Wisniewski all get better.
If I were the GM that would be the first place I started. I would look for a defenseman like Glen Wesley, Kurt Sauer or even Steve Montador.
I also think it is important to make sure you keep a veteran like Andrew Ladd in the line-up
I would then try to get my top lines set early and center them with healthy guys. Havlat is a great player, but has really not given this team anything in the past two years and has spent more time under the surgeon’s knife than on the ice.
Kane, Toews, Byfuglien and even Jason Williams will need to have a solid healthy season. The top two lines will need to be set early and kept healthy all season.
I would look for a guy like Marty Reasoner or Mats Sundin to anchor the top line and give the young guys some solid leadership.
Lang, Havlat and Sharp on line two with a Byfuglien and Ben Eager would give some size and power making plenty of room for Lang or Havlat to get a decent shot on net.
It looks to me like a veteran defensemen and a solid, healthy veteran on the top line would make the Blackhawks solid contenders for a playoff birth.
Goaltending, to me, is not a big issue if there were three solid defensive core players in font of who ever was in net. There is plenty of experience already there and with Corey Crawford showing promise there should not be many issues in net.
Let’s just say with all the changes made last year, the fans pouring into the seats and getting on the Blackhawks band wagon, it should be a very good season in 2008-2009.
It has to bring pride to the team, energy not felt for many years, and I think the NHL will be better for the changes being made in Chicago.
Chicago has a solid group waiting to make the leap permanently to the NHL. Guys like Kris Versteeg, Dave Bolland, Dave Koci, Jack Skille, Jacob Dowell, Jordan Hendry, and Niklas Hjalmarsson all had great games when called upon.
Look for more chances for these guys and when called on, they will make a difference in the Blackhawks' game.