Reactions on Niemi, Turco from the guys with credentials


A roundtable discussion with myself, Fifth Feather, Hockee Night, The Third Man In and Second City Hockey will be posted later. After that, I’m done talking about this whole situation for at least a week. It’s starting to drive me insane.

While most of the Blackhawks blogsphere chimed in with positive reactions to the  Marty Turco signing and  Antti Niemi dumping, some of the mainstream folk seemed to have a different opinion regarding  Stan Bowman’s handling of the ‘Hawks’ cap situation.

Before delving into that, Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times provides us with some statistical comparisons between Niemi and Turco. The main point that sticks out: Niemi allowed three-or-fewer goals 39 times; Turco, 38. The Blackhawks went 29-10 in those games, while Dallas went a modest 21-17. Anyone who doesn’t believe the overall talent of a team makes a goaltender better should shampoo my crotch.

√  Along those lines, I’m wondering why the  Tribune allows anyone other than  Chris Kuc to write about the Blackhawks. David Haugh, king of the weekly ‘Hawks fluff piece,  decided about halfway through the playoffs he wanted to become a cynic. No matter what he writes about hockey, he never fails to make himself look like an idiot.

Haugh’s painful piece never gave any concrete point one way or another, though the premise was correct: Neither the Blackhawks nor Niemi won yesterday. Problem is, at no point did Haugh mention Niemi’s regular season compared to that of Turco’s or the mere fact Niemi has yet to be in net for a full season. It’s not that anyone is diminishing Niemi’s contributions in the playoffs, it’s that the Blackhawks weren’t about to pay $2.75 million for a goaltender who — despite winning a Cup — hasn’t completely proven he can be the man for a full season. Turco has, and he came in at $1.45 million cheaper to a cap-strapped team. Just as fans shouldn’t diminish Niemi’s contributions, Haugh shouldn’t be anointing Niemi a savior “after just 64 games in an Indianhead sweater.”

√  Ah, Steve Rosendouche. This guy never ceases to amaze me. All season long, Rosedouche dismantled the Blackhawks goaltending situation by saying on numerous occasions the ‘Hawks couldn’t win the Cup with the goaltenders on the roster. You know who was on the roster the whole season? Antti Niemi. Now, Rosendouche is talking like Niemi’s number should be retired. This gem really got me going:

“The combination of Detroit’s Stanley Cup success with Chris Osgood behind Nicklas Lindstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Scotty Bowman and the cap has made it easy to diminish the importance of goalies.”

Yeah? And? I mean, haven’t the Blackhawks made it clear that a goaltender who has never played in a Cup Final before, never started a playoff game before, never played a full season as the No. 1 before can still win a Cup? Rosendouche couldn’t stop talking about how Niemi’s playoff inexperience could doom the ‘Hawks. Well, he was wrong — like usual. Because Niemi won 16 playoff games for the ‘Hawks must mean no other goaltender who dons the Indian head can duplicate that, right? Jesus Christ.

√  Jesse Rodgers of  ESPN Chicago  questions Bowman’s decision-making process this off-season beginning with the  Niklas Hjalmarsson offer-sheet surprise and culminating with Niemi’s departure. Other than contradicting himself by saying the ‘Hawks made a mistake in getting nothing in return for Niemi, then answering his own question by mentioning no other team wanted Niemi for that salary, Rodgers makes a decent point:

Bowman’s eve of free agency statement, “Offer sheets don’t concern me,” is the quote of the summer, and the subsequent offer to Hjalmarsson more than likely sealed Niemi’s fate. There is little doubt the money the Hawks had for Niemi before getting Hjalmarsson’s offer sheet was higher than after they matched it.

Yeah, Bowman misread that situation and it cost the ‘Hawks more money than he anticipated keep Hjalmarsson. Still, no matter if the ‘Hawks had the money or not, I don’t believe they wanted to invest that much in Niemi. I think that’s a point most people are overlooking. Bowman simply did not want to pay over $2 million for a goaltender who hasn’t played a full regular season, even if he did help win the Cup.

√  While the Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone agrees Hammer’s offer sheet ended up being the main demise for Niemi, he doesn’t fully disagree with the move.

Will the Hawks miss Niemi? Probably. He was terrific last season, especially in the playoffs, and has the potential to be a great goalie. Do we know for sure that he’ll turn out to be another Dominik Hasek? No, we don’t, and that’s a risk the Hawks are willing to take.

With Turco, at least the ‘Hawks know they’re getting a guy who’s played a full season, has experienced a good amount of playoff action and even made a few all-star teams. For half the money, it seems like a good investment.

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  • VIPhawksfan

    I am so sick of the Niemi **** sucking contest. He played great, made the big save when we were down one or tied, but he is definitely replaceable. We might not repeat (probably impossible to do since it hasn’t happened since ’97-98) but we have an incredible team to build around with young/free agent role players who are only going to benefit from playing with 11 Stanley Cup Champions. I don’t blame Niemmi for trying to grab his payday but I understand the benefits of bringing in Turco splitting time with Crawford. The young boy will somewhat avoid the bandwaggoners wrath if he has a bad game. Trust me, this kid has as much potential as Niemmi given he’s playing behind the top 4 D in the league. Bigger question is who is getting signed now that we have some extra dough. Kill me for saying it but I would love to see a ridiculous offer sheet on Darren Helm to bend the Wings over just like Wilson did to us.

  • Not Antti

    As a Hawks fan, I can’t argue against the Turco signing – just based on the cost savings and where we are cap-wise.

    But, for all the stats Adam Jahns threw out in support of Turco, I can find stats that support Niemi:
    Have a look at their road records, or PK save percentage, or save percentage in shootouts (and you can’t credit the Hawks def for that).

    It is moot at this point (cause Zito screwed up), but for the same price, I’d take Niemi in a heartbeat. As it is, with the reality of different costs, Turco is probably the right move.

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