11:17 AM CDT, July 5, 2012
OK, so the Wild gets both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but remember, the Blackhawks beat them to Sheldon Brookbank.
So there, Minnesota. Take that. No Sheldon Brookbank Bobblehead Night for you.
Not only did Parise and Suter sign elsewhere, but the best forward and defenseman available in free agency signed with the same team. Remember how LeBron James and Chris Bosh conspired to join Dwyane Wade for merriment, hijinks and titles? Same goes for Parise and Suter teaming up with Zenon Konopka.
Or, you know, maybe not exactly.
Point is, the Wild got a lot better and the Hawks got neither. It might not have been Bowman’s fault that Parise and Suter chose their strong ties to family in Minnesota --- $98 million can make you suddenly treasure your family like nobody’s business; c’mere, grandma, mwah --- but Bowman still didn’t get it done, either.
Throw in an failed effort to lure Martin Brodeur, the winningest goalie and fresh off another Stanley Cup Final appearance, and you have Bowman going 0-for-a-free-agent-star in net, on the blue line and up front. Hat trick.
The Hawks aren’t better now than when they stumbled out of the playoffs in the first round for the second straight spring. They have big questions among their top six forwards and a bigger one in goal. The only good thing about the concussed brains of Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa is they can forget how maddeningly inconsistent Corey Crawford is.
Bowman, however, tried to sell you something different in the wake of a free-agent hunt that has proven as useless as the Hawks' power play.
“Last year's team had 101 points, and there was a lot more to give,’’ Bowman said. “Even if we brought back the exact same roster, there are ways to be better with that same group. We've got Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland — the list goes on.’’
Note, please, that the big names Bowman listed were drafted or acquired in trade or free agency when Dale Tallon was the general manager.
Bowman would go on to talk about having Andrew Shaw for a full season, maybe getting Brandon Saad to earn a spot, and maybe getting a healthy Dan Carcillo after knee surgery. Those are players Bowman drafted and signed as GM. Not exactly Parise and Suter, eh?
Oh, and about that 101 points thing: Points are cheap now because of the “loser’’ point that teams get just for reaching overtime. This is not your father’s 100-point accomplishment. This certainly is not Bowman’s father’s 100-point accomplishment. This is a home run in the steroid era.
The Hawks got off to a strong start last season, but because of injury and the GM’s failure to acquire a legitimate No. 2 center, they finished fourth in the Central Division and sixth in the Western Conference. That’s what your 101 points are worth, and the same goes for next season.
What’s more, you have no idea what kind of Hossa you’re going to get back after lifelong NHL criminal Raffi Torres tried to turn him into a human bobblehead. (By the way, has Gary Bettman realized what a clown he looks like by reducing the recidivist Torres’ 25-game suspension without giving a single reason why? I’ll hang up and listen for more stupidity.)
The Hawks also don’t know what kind of Toews they’ll have leading their team after he returned from a concussion and produced nothing close to a Toews-like postseason.
And that legit No. 2 center that Bowman failed to get all last season? Still hasn’t acquired it. Still telling us how the ill-fitting and immature Kane has proven he can do it.
Well, no, not for a championship team. Not for a team that wins a playoff round. Kane had as many postseason goals as you did against Phoenix, which is one fewer playoff marker than he had offseason party boy embarrassments.
So, it’s hard to find six forwards for your top six that a Stanley Cup champion needs. And even if you can cobble together something close to two dangerous lines, you are absolutely paralyzed in fear with Crawford in goal. Maybe it’s me, but praying he gets hot at the right time is not the best plan.
Bowman said it’s early. He said the summer hasn’t played itself out. True fact. So, it sounds like Bowman expects to get better players by Labor Day. Or, I guess we should expect the Hawks to get a better GM.
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