11:14 AM CDT, June 20, 2012
I hope Stan Bowman is lying about this. I hope he’s just doing what smart, truth-challenged general managers do.
Because I really don’t want to think that the Blackhawks GM actually believes that “for the most part we know what our roster is going to be with some minor tweaks here and there,’’ as he said Tuesday in advance of Friday’s NHL draft.
I mean, “minor tweaks here and there’’? Excuse me, but when you’re coming off your second straight first-round playoff loss after winning a Stanley Cup with Dale Tallon’s roster, there’s nothing minor.
There’s especially nothing minor about not having a legitimate No. 2 center. Again.
It’s not Patrick Kane, no matter how stridently Bowman defends his misguided stance.
Kane has enough trouble with failing to play up to his alleged elite status and trying to live down his lifestyle choices that make his failure to achieve elite status more aggravating.
Truth is, Kane is better as trade bait than a legitimate No. 2 center.
But here’s the thing: Even if Bowman insists on continuing the error of Kane at center, the GM still looks at least two players short of a formidable top six. In fact, he might be three players short. This is not a “minor’’ tweak in my country.
Jonathan Toews missed a major part of a season again because of a concussion, which seems to be a pattern with the Hawks captain, and even if it isn’t, I still didn’t see the game-changing Toews I’m used to. Toews still has a lot to show.
Marian Hossa, meanwhile, has even more to show after Coyotes thug Raffi Torres turned the Hawks winger into a human bobblehead. Bowman said Hossa “continues to improve.’’ Question is, does Hossa know it?
For those of you keeping score at home, your top penalty-killing forwards are concussion issues.
For those of you keeping score at home, two of your slickest power-play forwards are concussion issues, and the power play stunk so badly at the end that you’d think the Cubs were in charge of it.
Your roll call of top-six forwards continues with Kane, who’s out of position, and Patrick Sharp, who’s good anywhere.
Then your roll call of top-six forwards continues with, um, well, hmmm, nobody. Good night, everybody. Thanks for coming. Drive home safely.
I mean, Andrew Shaw? I like his game, but he has a lot to prove. Like, playing a full season and postseason.
Who else? A post-op Dan Carcillo? Yes. Well. Moving right along . . .
Sorry, but when you cannot muster six top-six forwards, you’re not just tweaking. You’re looking at some kind of major surgery, especially when you don’t have two legit centers in the group. See the Stanley Cup-winning Kings for details.
That’s why I hope Bowman is lying. I hope he has plans to start at the top of his roster and start this weekend at the draft. If they can get a top-six forward for any defenseman except Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, I vote yes. Yes, even Nick Leddy.
Look, I just saw the Kings trade 25-year-old defenseman Jack Johnson for dangerous winger Jeff Carter, and I just saw Carter skate around with the Cup. Maybe I’m caught up in the moment, but the only Cup the Hawks can win is next season’s Cup, presuming there is a next season, which I kind of doubt, but either way, I don’t want to hear about grinders and depth and blah, blah, blah until an opponent with one checking line faces a tough matchup decision against the Hawks.
This is a big issue for the kind of puck-possession team the Hawks used to be and want to be again. You need talent to play that way, but the Hawks don’t have enough top-end talent to do it. Worse, and some of their top talent might be one hard check away from a three-month nap.
So, I hope Bowman is lying. Because it’s a lot easier to rectify fibs than bad judgment leading to continued playoff failure.
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