When the final chapter is written about the 2013-2014 Chicago Blackhawks one of the major topics of that chapter will be either the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in spite of Michal Handzus or the Hawks failed in their quest to repeat because Joel Quenneville relied on his veterans namely Handzus instead of trusting the youth of the Blackhawk system.
Since the day the Hawks traded for Handzus he’s never truly fit the Blackhawks system, but Joel Quenneville found a spot for him and he came up with two of the biggest goals of the 2013 playoff run to the Stanley Cup with his Game #6 goal against the Detroit Red Wings, and his Game #4 Shorthanded Goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Handzus was the first player that Jonathan Toews handed the Cup to after the Hawks won the Cup but this is 2014 not 2013.
Handzus has been a total anchor on the Blackhawks offense this season and if you’re looking for one stat it’s the fact that #26 was on the ice for only one of Patrick Kane‘s goals, or he played in one of the best offenses in the NHL with some of the greatest offensive talents in the NHL and only ended up with 12 assists in 59 games.
Now it’s the playoffs and everyone is asking what is wrong with Patrick Sharp he’s only scored twice so far in the playoffs and it’s perfectly evident why because for most of the playoffs both Sharp and Handzus have been on the 2nd line. Handzus has the bizarro world Golden Touch that when he hits your line your offense will disappear.
Stan Bowman was on the Brandon Pirri trail before the season started but it appeared that he left Q some veteran presence that Q usually covets when he resigned Handzus for one year. Pirri when in the lineup during Handzus early season injury flourished as well as Patrick Kane who won back to back NHL Player of the Month Awards. Kane would talk about how great it was to play with Pirri but as soon as Handzus returned Pirri role was slowly removed and moved all the way to Florida.
During the end of the season it was great seeing the Peter Regin, Jeremy Morin, and Bryan Bickell line finish strong, but when the Hawks were about to faceoff against the St. Louis Blues it was Handzus given first crack at 2nd line center and even though his production outside of the penalty kill didn’t warrant such a position. Now comes the sad saga of a frustrated Patrick Sharp and it’s not because his play has been that bad it’s only because Kane got rid of his anchor and it landed on Sharp.
Handzus will always be in the lineup because he’s Quenneville’s security blanket but if the Hawks wanted to really open up the offense and maybe rediscover their Sharp shooter they would put Andrew Shaw on the 2nd line and give Handzus a night or two or three off.
What is your view of Handzus? Will his lack of speed and life left in his veteran legs sink the Hawks ship?
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