After the initial success of my Chicago Blackhawks Q&A with John Buccigross, I decided to reach out to Chicago Blackhawks writers from the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and Daily Herald.
Luckily for me I have heard back from a few of them, and I decided rather than meshing all of the Q&A's into one article, I will be creating a series of Q&A's. This weeks Q&A is with Len Ziehm, Chicago Blackhawks writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Enjoy.
Wagner: Will the Robert Lang trade end up coming back to haunt the Blackhawks late in the season?
Ziehm: It very likely could. The Hawks are awfully young at that very critical position. A trade of Khabby for a veteran centerman could take care of that problem, however.
Wagner: Will this team be able to keep up with the Red Wings ?
Ziehm: Standings-wise, I don't think so. The Hawks have always—even in lean years—played well against them head-to-head, however. The Wings, though, are better overall now than they were last year when the won the Stanley Cup. That's how I see it.
Wagner: Do you think Toews and Kane can avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
Ziehm: I'd hope so, and I think Toews has a better chance of doing that than Kane. Kane's rookie season was a huge surprise to me, and he was able to stay healthy. He'll be hard-pressed to match that fine first season.
Toews, on the other hand, could be in for a breakthrough season, given the new leadership role and new line situation that awaits him.
Wagner: Will Nikolia Khabibulin be with the 'Hawks the entire season?
Ziehm: I can't imagine that happening. If for no other reason, his contract situation suggests the Hawks will have to move him eventually.
Wagner: Do you think Dustin Byfuglien is going to put better offensive numbers this year?
Ziehm: Probably. He's learned the value of fitness, and is to be commended for that. He's maturing as a player and a person. He'll be playing just as a forward this season, I'm sure, and that will help his numbers, too.
Wagner: Do you think people in Chicago will get to see Akim Aliu in a Blackhawks sweater?
Ziehm: I like him. This season, though, I expect he'll play almost entirely in Rockford.
Wagner: Who is the favorite for the open forward spot?
Ziehm: Very good question. I suspect the Hawks are leaning toward Skille, as a one-time first-round draft pick. I'm not so sure he's the answer, though. I kind of like Brouwer at the moment, given his size and better goal-scoring ability. He needs to keep working on his skating, though.
Wagner: Will Matt Walker be the "enforcer" for the Blackhawks this season?
Ziehm: He's one of the candidates, but that job will probably go to Ben Eager.
Wagner: Cam Barker has looked good in camp with Brian Campbell. Do you think this pairing will stick?
Ziehm: It looks like it. They worked okay together in the first exhibition game, and playing with Campbell will help Barker's development. He had a good offseason, and using him with Campbell means that there'll be a good third pairing, too, with Sopel teaming up (in December) with Wisniewski.
I would like to thank Mr. Ziehm for taking the time to answer all of my question. If you would like to read some of his articles visit the Chicago Sun-Times website.
Next week's Q&A: Tim Sassone of The Daily Herald