The Blackhawks’ off-season drama: Seinfeld style

By Jeffrey Bartl

I can relate every aspect of my life to a Seinfeld episode. I’ve met a woman in a grocery store, got her number, yet never asked for her name. I’ve strained a hamstring kicking out tucked covers in a hotel bed, chased after a rental car bus and will forever love to stop at the duty free shop.

So, when I began thinking about some of the happenings during the plethora of off-season moves by the Blackhawks, I immediately thought of a Seinfeld episode. Here is a rundown of off-season events, with a twist of Seinfeld.

“We’re collectors. We see objects of great beauty and we must have them.”

To the Blackhawks’ brass. Last off-season it was Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet. This year, just hours into the free agency period, they snatched Marian Hossa from the Red Wings with a deal that will keep Hossa in Chicago until he’s 42 years old. Former New Jersey Devil and Selke Trophy winner John Madden soon followed with another former Red Wing, Tomas Kopecky. When the organization seems something it wants, it goes out and takes it… much like George with women he meets in an antique store. Hopefully the ‘Hawks don’t serve their prized possessions prune juice.

“It’s like I was making a prison break, you know. And I’m heading for the wall, and I trip and I twist my ankle, and they throw the light on you, you know. So, somehow I get through the crying and I keep running. Then the cursing started. She’s firing at me from the guard tower: ‘Son of a bang! Son of a boom!’ I get to the top of the wall, the front door. I opened it up, I’m one foot away. I took one last look around the penitentiary, and I jumped!”

To Martin Havlat, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sammy Pahlsson and Matt Walker. Fans knew either three or all four would be gone by the start of next season, but no one wanted to accept it. Meanwhile, all four gladly took the money and ran elsewhere very early in the free agency period. The Blackhawks signed Hossa, Havlat left. Khabibulin admitted his deal with Edmonton happened, “very quickly,” and the ‘Hawks weren’t about to commit three years to him. Pahlsson was a mid-season fix with only a small chance of him returning to Chicago. Walker was a bit of a surprise, but Tampa Bay threw him the dollars the Blackhawks needed to sign Madden. Curse their departures all you want, Chicago, but they were inevitable.

“Well, you know when you break up, how you say things you don’t mean? Well, he says the mean things you don’t mean, but he means them.”

To Havlat. C’mon buddy, just shut up already. The Twitter posts are enough, and the Blackhawks are yet to bite and jump into this bickering match. The relationship was over. Havlat wanted too many years and too much money for only one healthy season of productivity in the last three. When Chicago realized it could get Hossa for the same cap number (just above $5 million), the Blackhawks went the route of the consistent 40-goal scorer. Deal with it.

“Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year’s gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, each flicker of the candles on the cake we know it’s not to be. That for the rest of our sad, wretched, pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably. Happy birthday? No such thing.”

In reference to Rocky Wirtz’s comment about Dale Tallon’s age in explaining Tallon’s abrupt firing as general manager. Wirtz said this:

"Dale’s 58. We always want younger people … It’s nothing that Dale was doing, but also Dale’s at the tail end of his business career."

Can’t Tallon file a successful age discrimination lawsuit solely based off of this comment? The owner of the franchise admitting that he wasn’t being fired for performance, but because of his age? I’d hire Jackie Chiles and get it over.

Oh, yeah? My friend Bob Sacamano, he came in here for a hernia operation. Oh, yeah, routine surgery. Now he’s sitting in a chair by a window going [high-pitched voice] “My name is Bob!”

To Hossa. First, the shoulder injury wasn’t that bad. The ‘Hawks knew about it when signing him, no big deal. Then suddenly the new $68-million man needs surgery to fix a torn tendon, keeping Hossa sidelined for the first two months of the season — at least. As if people weren’t already lobbying to keep Havlat, the signing of Hossa now looks much worse. But now it’s time to get over it, accept what happened, get off to a fast start without him and welcome a superstar to the lineup when he’s ready to play.

“Where are you living? Are you here? Are you on this planet? It’s impossible. It can’t be done. Thousands of years people have been trying to have their cake and eat it too. So all of a sudden the two of you are going to come along and do it. Where do you get the ego? No one can do it. It can’t be done.”

From all the skeptics to John McDonough and Wirtz. A trip to the Western Conference Finals and quick exit at the hands of the mighty Detroit Red Wings seemed to ignite Blackhawks fans into this we’re-not-ready frenzy. McDonough and Wirtz think differently. They signed Hossa and Madden to bring proven stars to Chicago. They made difficult decisions in letting fan favorites walk. And, they’re sticking to their “One Goal” motto to win the Stanley Cup. “It’s a perfect plan. So devious, so inspired, yet so simple.”