5 For Friday: Walkom, Re-Realignment, & Frolik
Five for Friday: Walkom rises from the dead to once again run the refs. Also, Re-realignment and Sochi’s human rights issues. Photoshop by Joe Kremel of BlackhawkUp.com
The Walkom Dead: In case you missed out on the news, Stephen Walkom will be the Director of Officiating once again. I’m sure all you Blackhawks fans remember the call that disallowed Hjalmarsson’s potential game 7 winning goal against Detroit in the dying minutes of the third. After being considered not good enough to referee the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins, he found his way back to the top of the referee pile. To be fair, Walkom wasn’t terrible at running things. In fact, he was pretty consistent in making sure the rules were correctly enforced. I won’t have any problem with this move as long as he enforces quicker puck drops.
PK Won’t Be A Frolik In The Park: I was rather crushed to see Frolik get jettisoned to the Peg. Fro may not have been the deadly sniper that we had hoped for, but he was still a key depth cog in the Blackhawks system. His willingness to constantly find the puck and to do the board work is what really made Fro shine. You can’t overlook his fancy stats either. His Corsi and Fenwick show him as an extremely strong possession player. That completely backs up the “eye test”. The Hawks are pretty lucky, or rather, pretty smart with their planning. They may not have a player that will perfectly fill in for Frolik, but they do have a very deep system, and finding someone to do a similar job won’t be difficult. Most fans are already calling for Ben Smith, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen.
Human Rights & Sochi: The Vancouver Olympics were very fun and exciting to watch. The tension all came from the games and athletes, nothing else was looming over like it already is with Sochi. Admittedly, the dangers and problems should be minimal, but I still don’t like thinking about the political climate in Russia. Besides the obvious sports politics with the KHL poaching any player they can lure with their 100% “legal” tax free money, we also have to worry about national political struggles. Having their freedom of speech restricted is not something that many players are used to. If they advocate the You Can Play program, they risk fines from the government. I doubt anything will actually come of it, but it is the unfortunate reality of the situation.
Kruger Needs PX90: We didn’t see any real jump in Kruger’s stats last year, and we didn’t see him get much tougher. On numerous occasions, we saw him get smashed due to his over eagerness to retrieve a puck. Kruger needs to build up a bit more muscle and focus on choosing better positioning while retrieving pucks. He most likely will be used in a similar role to that which he played last year. He has all the right tools for the job, he just needs think on how to use them effectively. His play in the post season seemed to really come together by the end of the Boston series. I would really love to see him bring that extra edge and confidence that we saw in game 6 into the new season for the Blackhawks.
Expansion teams and re-realignment: The new rumor is that we might see a team in Seattle by the 2014-2015 season. Even better news is that it won’t be at the expense of the Phoenix Coyotes. So that would leave us with an odd number of teams and the only other cities that were in rumors for getting teams are in the east. Does that mean that Quebec or Toronto will get a team as well and force realignment? Or does one of the expansion teams just have to deal with horrendous travel like the Winnipeg Jets had to do? I’m really curious on how all of this will play out.