In the past week the Chicago Blackhawks have re-signed two of last years unrestricted free agents in Jamal Mayers and Johnny Oduya. While watching National Treasure this past week these signings reminded me of a part of the movie where a cheesy Nick Cage and his dad are talking about status quo and that when something needed to change that the status quo would change too. Granted it’s a kind of cheesy movie a Amazing Race meets New England, but with the past two signings has anything changed for the Blackhawks that were last scene leaving United Center ice to go home to play golf (or party in Wisconsin) for the summer, after their 2nd consecutive first round defeat?
It’s early in the off season, but the only change so far, has been to the coaching staff where according to 99% percent of precincts reporting say that the Blackhawks and Joel Quenneville fired the wrong assistant coach. I’m pretty sure that this move will not change the status quo unless the next assistant coach is a wizard with the power play. Don’t forget that the Hawks were an abysmal 15.2% on the power play which ranked 26th in the NHL this past season. I know you didn’t forget, but that 2 minute nightmare cannot be forgotten.
The staus quo though must stop in the signing of “Veteran Presence” guys! That goes for both offensive and defensive players alike. In 2010 it worked adding John Madden to a very young team, and so GM Stan Bowman with direction from Coach Q has seemed to fall in love with this recipe, which has brought little success the past two seasons. Andrew Brunette, John Scott and Sean O’Donnell’s are no longer needed on this roster. The Hawks have two directions to go when it comes to the off season, but either way the 2012 opening night roster needs to be filled with talent that has speed, control the puck, contribute on special teams, and finish. I was surprised that Mayers was re-signed not because of his production but because his age will be 38, but he should continue to fill the role he carved out last season. Oduya was good in the regular season and hopefully that is the player we are getting for the next 3 seasons, but that is where the re-signings needs to end for next year.
One way the status quo can change is bring in the youth! A Bowman philosophy has been to fill up the cupboard with talent and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. 2012 needs to be the season that the roster begins to show youth again, like it did in 2010 when the Hawks hoisted the Cup. It started last season with appearances and production from Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen and brief appearance from Brandon Saad. There is only one way to get NHL experience and that is to play on the biggest stage! It’s time for the young core to become the leaders of the team and let GM and coach worry about getting the most talent on the ice at all times, than worry about some over the hill guy to be fill up roster space to be a presence!
This is ALL the veteran presence that is needed for the foreseeable future! He may only be 24 but he’s been a captain, Conn Smyth winner, Stanley Cup Champion, and Olympic Champion and could have been MVP if a concussion hadn’t sidelined him the last 22 games of the season. Jonathan Toews has all the accolades that any 30 something guy could have if not more. He’s the face of the franchise, the Captain, and the leader of the team, so there should be no worries about bringing up the farm and letting them produce like they have at the minor league levels.
The second way to change the status quo is to make a big move especially at the draft. I’m not a GM, or pretend to be one (sometimes) or did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but it seems like the Hawks and Bowman now are afraid of the salary cap threshold instead of trying to get every last penny spent, which may be a backlash of the salary cap hell that he inherited. Now’s a chance to make a move, the Hawks have picks, space and organizational depth to make a move before our hated rivals do. The Detroit Red Wings just lost Nicklas Lindstrom to retirement, so you know they will be spending money this off season, don’t let our rivals win in the off season sweepstakes too!
This is the biggest off season for Bowman yet. Will he make changes, or will he settle for the status quo of 88-105 point season and early playoff disappointment or will he make a significant shift in theory and make the status quo shift in our favor and the Hawks find the treasure… The Stanley Cup again!
Let’s Go HAWKS!!!!