There were a rousing lot of questions from you BlackhawkUP-sters last month, here’s a sampling…
"The Blackhawks seem to be teetering in and out of a playoff spot. That’s not good. What’s the problem? — Chris, Grand Crossing"
The Blackhawks got off to a worse-than-average start, and are only now starting to play the kind of hockey we expect from the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Last season they took the “best defense is a good offense” approach, and it worked wonderfully — because they had nearly a dozen credible scoring threats and the most consistent and stingy top-four defensemen in the league (arguably).
They tried to continue with that strategy this season, and it bombed. Neither the offense nor the defense was delivering. In the 15 games starting October 15, the Blackhawks won only 6 of them. Out of the most recent 15 games, they won 9. So essentially we’re playing far better, and just cleaning up the mess we made earlier this season. They keep improving like this, and not only will we make the playoffs, we’ll start on home ice.
"Does the Blackhawks’ salary cap situation get any better next season? — Aidan, Willow Springs"
The short answer is, yes. The not-as-short answer is, it’s not going to be easy by any means, but Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman has more options. The big task for the off-season (or before that, if possible) is re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Brent Seabrook. Second is deciding to either fish or cut bait with goaltender Corey Crawford, and barring a complete meltdown between now and June, Bowman will lock Crawford up too.
I expect that will leave us with roughly $10 million to play with, but 10 holes in the lineup that have to be filled using that money. Not impossible, but not exactly easy either. If some kids on entry-level contracts in Rockford are ready for the big time (such as Jeremy Morin and Nick Leddy) life will get a little easier.
"I’ve been watching the “24/7: Penguins/Capitals” program on HBO, and I’m shocked! Do hockey players really swear that much? — Ellie, Hoffman Estates"
"The whole fighting thing in hockey confuses me. Two guys will be standing next to each other waiting for a face-off, nothing’s going on. Then all of a sudden they both throw down their gloves at the same time and start beating the crap out of each other. Why is that? — Mark, Clarendon Hills"
They’re waiting for the puck to drop. I reviewed the rule book on this, and discovered that there is actually no reason to do this: fights that occur just prior to the drop of the puck are treated just the same as ones that occur during the normal course of play (Rule 46 governs the subject of fights in general, section 46.10 deals with this topic specifically, for those of you who are interested). So all I can assume is that it’s one of those professional courtesy things, an unwritten rule of fighting etiquette, and the puck dropping is like having somebody say “go.”
"My girlfriend’s pretty hot, and she can skate. How could she get to be part of the Ice Crew? — Lou, Lawndale"
Auditions are held annually for positions on the Ice Crew, and each young lady is hired for one year. Ice Crew members not only represent the team at home games, but also various public appearances. Prospective Crew members should be able to skate, should be appearance-conscious, and should have a clean criminal record. There is a contact e-mail on the Chicago Blackhawks web site where you can direct additional questions and inquire about audition dates for the 2011-12 season.
One hint: on the application, where it says “Other Performance Experience”, that’s not the place to outline how much your boyfriend likes what you can do in bed. They’re talking about cheerleading and dance recitals and stuff. The “Other Talents/Hobbies” section: same thing.
"So what if Dan Cleary is out? The Wings are going to take it, baby! Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Niklas Lidstrom, you chumps don’t have a chance! Polish up that Cup, it’s coming back to Motown! — Derek, New Hudson, MI"
That’s very nice for you, Derek. Best of luck with that. Now go finish that possum shit smoothie and get back to cleaning the urinals.