I went to the Blackhawks' web site earlier today, and I realized that preseason for the Hawks is just around the corner. I don’t know how I forgot that, but it had me happy knowing that the hockey season is just around the corner.
The Hawks were one of the most talked about hockey team last year, and they proved they could compete against seasoned teams. The Hawks team was made of mostly young players who battled all the way to the Western Conference Finals only to lose to rival Detroit Red Wings.
While the fans and the players were disappointed they didn’t make it the big game, it did show them that they can compete against the big dogs.
This year has the same amount of hype, only notched up to a whole different level. Fans know they can play for the Cup. Now they want to see them win the Cup. If there was a year for Chicago, this is it.
Salary cap problems will trouble the Hawks next year, which will for sure make the management cut some very good talent. With this problem looming just over the horizon, the Hawks have their best chance this year. It is all or nothing for the Chicago hockey team.
It wasn’t all good news this offseason. The Hawks lost two great and fan-loved players, Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin. Havlat was the top points leader for the Hawks last year, and Khabibulan was the Hawks first-string goaltender. Losing both your No. 1 goalie and scoring could be devastating for the Hawks.
Let's not forget that 2007 No. 1 draft pick Patrick Kane was arrested on robbery and assault charges last August. It was the type of news the Hawks did not want. While it didn’t end up to anything that serious, it was bad press nonetheless, and bad press is never good for a team.
The Hawks signed Marian Hossa to replace Havlat, but Hossa is injured and it’s not 100 percent known when he will be healthy enough to return. This has all the ingredients to backfire on the Hawks.
The team is now relying on the young core to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive while Hossa is gone. Fans can only hope the Hawks don’t fall too behind the No. 8 spot in the conference.
The Hawks will also have to rely on yet-proven goaltender Christobal Huet. Huet has been given a huge contract, but he did not live up to it last season making Hawk fans scratch their heads and thinking “Did we make a mistake?”
Khabibulan was the better goalie last year, but with Huet’s contract being so high and because of the team already close to the salary cap, the management had no other choice but to release Khabibulan.
So it’s Huet’s year whether fans like it or not. There is one good thing going foir Huet, and that is he played really well in the Conference Finals against the Wings.
Was that a sign of better things to come?
Let's hope so.
The full schedule is up on the Hawk’s web site. Their first regular season game is on Oct. 2. It will be unique because the Hawks will not in the United States or Canada, but in Finland. It will be the first out of two games played in Finland.