Here is a little creative piece on the Hawks salary cap dilmena from dedicated reader Rich Lindbloom. Enjoy.
The book Spiritual Sayings, by Lebanese author Khalil Gibran, has me pondering the Hawk salary cap dilemma. The book is packed with wisdom. I realize wisdom and hockey fans are not words generally associated with each other. I’ll be the first to admit, his thoughts are not my thoughts. Most likely I misinterpret a lot of what he writes, however there is one saying that I’ll never forget and think I have a basic understanding of; “Love knows not its depth until the hour of separation.”
The ebullient joy accompanied by the signing of the Blackhawk holy trinity to extended contracts, is being quickly displaced by the realization that more than one very popular Hawk will be soon exiting, stage left, most likely before the season ends. That scourge, or should I say Scrooge at this time of year, known as the Salary Cap looms like a Christmas fruitcake. The most likely suspects will probably be those making between 2 and 4 million clams. Can you imagine any of the following wearing a Predator, Blues or Blue Jacket sweater before season end – Sharp, Steegs, Buffy, Barks, Sopel, Madden or Bolland. The Blues sure could use a couple of our defensemen.
Obviously you could add Huet or Campbell to that list. With their onerous, long term contracts, it’s not very likely they will be skating on a different pond any time soon. Please don’t get me wrong, despite the incessant lynch mobs scattered throughout the U.C. calling for their resignation, I actually believe Cristobal and Brian are money players. Anyone out there particularly fond of breaking up the Campbell/Hjarlmarrson tandem at the moment – I didn’t think so. Despite the final tally, I thought the Blues played ok on Wednesday. I’d add Perron or Oshie to my team in a heart beat. In my mind, the difference in Wednesday’s tussle was our defense.
Huet is far better than most of his detractors will admit, quietly compiling a 2.10 GAA that is fourth in the league! I was at a local saloon watching the Sabre game last Friday when a friend asked me, “Do you like Huet?” When I said, “Indubitably so,” he gave me a puzzled look and finally said, “So does that mean yes or no.” And Then The Fight Started…
After five minutes of futile debating I was told in so many words, “We should have kept Khabi. Huet will never take us to the Cup.” Now let me think a moment, how many goalies got to the Cup last year. Oh that’s right just two, Fleury and Osgood. And Osgood sucks because he didn’t win it. I seem to recall that impregnable fortress otherwise known as Luongo yielding 7 goals in the Conference Semi-Finals last year.
Actually, there must have been a Blue Moon out last Wednesday when the Hawks sent “Spanky and the Gang” back to St. Louis with their tails between their legs. (Nice team photo Sam!) With less than a minute in the game, I swore I heard the U.C. crowd chanting HU-ET, HU-ET, HU-ET! This strange phenomenon occurred moments after Cristobal flattened (I think) Jannsen for illegally parking in his crease. Huet finally had enough of his stenching smell shouting, “Time expired” as he flattened the Blues goon with a wicked cross check. Billy Smith would have been proud of him! If Huet wants to get a good deal of the fans in the U.C. on his side, swinging his goalie stick like a tomahawk will do it. By the way, is it just me or does it appear Huet is smiling all the time through his goalie mask? Maybe he’s just crazy.
Well since it doesn’t appear Huet or Campbell will be doing triple axles in another rink anytime soon, that brings us back to the Manificent Seven. Sopel, who at one time I thought would be missed as much as a canker sore, has been outstanding in our zone. He’s blocked so many shots, it appears we have two net minders on the ice at times. Plus he adds that intangible that can’t be taught – he looks real scary. (Sort of a cross between Dracula and Lerch, from the Adams Family.) There aren’t too many teams in the league that would not improve if Sharpie was added to their roster. I’m sure all the damsels at the U.C. would get their panties in a thither if the Hawks traded him. I’m afraid my wife would quit following the Hawks. Madden has been a huge pickup and has been a huge factor in the winning equation. Winning face offs, while not a glamorous part of hockey, win games. You have to love how John hustles back into our zone. Blue collar players are somewhat idolized in Chi-town.
Versteeg adds so much to the team, including that rare combination of speed, ability and goofiness. In fact, that’s a pretty good description of #32 – “a goofy, Usain Bolt.” By the way, Toews’s latest highlight reel goal got nothing on Steeger’s goal vs. Columbus . Byfuglien, is really gaining a foothold with the fans who miss Ruutu’s atomic hits. Ted Nugent has a great song called Great White Buffalo that has some intense guitar licks in it. If Dustin always played with the intensity that the Motor City Madman does, his autograph line would be as long as Kanes. By the way, the Buffster’s autograph line was almost as long as Hossa’a at the Season Ticket Holders Holiday Party. Cam Barker appeared to be visually shaken when looking at the length of his line vs. Byfuglien’s line.
Barkey, in my opinion, just keeps improving every year. (Actually I’d like to see him and Campbell paired more together on the power play.) He may be able to fill Campbell ’s spot eventually if Brian should be acquired by another team. By the way is it just me, or is anyone else noticing Cameron throwing his weight around more this year. I’ve definitely seen him clobber a couple people. Cam ’s biggest draw back is he needs to get rid of that boyish look and start resembling Sopel more. Generally speaking, hockey players are not supposed to look like pretty boys. Bolland appears to be safe for the moment due to the back thing. As good as the Hawks have played this year, Bolland is sorely missed.
This brings me to a short anecdote about, who else, my daughter Taylor. Taylor is the antipode of the word “Morning Person.” Her language before ten in the morning is reduced to grunts and unintelligible mumblings. While driving to school on Monday morning I tried to strike up a conversation. Nothing worked until I said, “Hey Tay, Kaner got stitches and a black eye last night. Now he’s going to look like a hockey player!” This brought a smile to her face from ear to ear. Again, hockey players should never be spending a lot of time standing in front of a mirror. While on the subject of ugly mugs, if your looking for a sleeper on the Hawks, Troy Brouwer is a sagacious choice. He plays a lot of Sunday and Friday games where you can plug him in when not many teams are playing.
Oh well, for those of us who have followed the incredible resurgence in Blackhawk hockey that really kicked into gear in the 07/08 season, some painful decisions will have to be made. I don’t have time to research the stats, but looking at the Predators line up, there has to be some salary cap room. St. Louis and Columbus both could add a Hawk or two and become a better team. Unfortunately, I believe two out of the 7 players I’ve mentioned will be gone before year end. The thought of getting a second or third round draft pick for any of those players is not a pleasant one. RoseLee’s, (the Hawks 82 year old matriarch- who has been attending Hawk games for 56 years), statement last year that it’s hard to distinguish between love and loyalty comes to mind when we think of losing one of these warriors. Hockey fans appreciate the hard play and doggedly determined efforts of players. In a weird sort of way, they become like family.
Lamentably, in the midst of this long awaited season, the dark cloud that follows Eyeore around continues to linger. Maybe if each player gave up 10% of their contract. (Fat chance, that family thing only goes so far! Cousin Eddy comes to mind.) Think about it, we could have a dynasty that would overcome the Tribunes propensity to relegate the Blackhawks to page 6 or 8 of the sports section. All the Hawk players could open up restaurants and perhaps pick up some of Tiger’s endorsements.
Until the axe falls however, lets enjoy those warriors we’ve exhorted on the last two years. I’m reminded of that Jackson Browne song, “Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer…
One last saying From Khalil Gibran, “At low tide I wrote my name in the sand. The next morning I came back to discover my ignorance.” in the shifting sands of Blackhawk hockey, we’re all to aware afew names must dissappear. Major bummer.
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