Oct 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) with the puck and New York Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin (60) watching on during the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Michal Handzus 2nd Line Center Again

The Blackhawks had made a flurry moves today: They announced that Antti Raanta would get his first start, Marian Hossa returned to the team, Jeremy Morin was sent back to Rockford, and Michal Handzus resumed his previous role as second line center.

Since taking over as the Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville has made very few mistakes with this team.  He made the right move at the right time, 99.9% of the time. Nobody is perfect not even Coach Quenneville.  Coach Quenneville made the decision after one game to make Handzus the second line center again.

I feel that placing Michal Handzus back in the role as the second line center is a HUGE MISTAKE! Here are three reasons why I believe Handzus should not be the second line center:

  • Handzus is slow: Handzus will be paired with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad on the second line. Kane and Saad are fast players who like to play an up-tempo style of hockey. Handzus moves as fast a glacier, and that is an insult to a glacier. He is going to hinder the play making ability of Kane by slowing the game down. He does have a good chemistry with Saad, but that is not enough to overcome his short comings. To quote Top Gun, I feel the need, the need for Speed!

 

  • The Blackhawks scoring drops with Handzus at center: In the first nine games with Handzus the Blackhawks were average 2.88 goals per game. In the fifteen games after Handzus was injured, the Blackhawks scored 4.13 goals per game. The numbers don’t lie, the Blackhawks are better without Handzus.

 

  • He is coming off an injury: Handzus spent most of the offseason recovering from a broken wrist and partially torn MCL. Those injuries limited his participation in training camp. He did not skate with the team for most of training camp. He began the season as the second line center after he was deemed healthy.  After five games this season he sustained an upper body injury and had to be sidelined for 15 games. Can we count on Handzus to be healthy for the entire year? Brandon Pirri was doing a nice job before Handzus returned and might be a better healthy option.

 

With that being said, Handzus is not a bad player. The Blackhawks would have not won the Stanley Cup last season without him. I have a great deal of respect for the type of player his is. I am not saying that they should not use him. He still a valuable member of the Blackhawks and should be viewed as such. Handzus should have a different role. He should be a part time/ fourth liner player like the Blackhawks had originally intended this season.  He SHOULD NOT be the second line center.

One of the many great things about Coach Quenneville is that when something is not working. He is not afraid to change up the lines. The Handzus RETURN is not going to work and will be only a matter of time until Coach Quenneville has to reshuffle the lines.

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