Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons For Pessimism In 2016-17

By Gail Kauchak
Apr 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) checks Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) checks Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jan 23, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New Jersey Devils right wing Jordin Tootoo (22) skates prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

5.  Why the goons?

Old school hockey surmises that there’s definitely the need for an agitator on a team; someone who can get under their opponent’s skin and draw penalties.  If you take it a step further, there’s the belief that a “protector” is needed, to keep the star players from getting pushed around by the other team.

But the game has evolved in recent years.  There’s a lot less fighting, and players are more about skill and speed than intimidating each other.   Goons such as John Scott and Daniel Carcillo are a dying breed.  Andrew Shaw was a pretty effective agitator, but his style of play ran the high risk of taking stupid penalties at very bad times.  His saving grace was that he was also a relatively skilled player that had a nose for the net.

Most believe that Brandon Mashinter and Jordin Tootoo are a waste of two roster spots for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Both have the agitator style of play that Shaw had; but many don’t believe they have the skills to be effective.

But Coach Q comes from that “old school” mindset, and he always insists on having one or two players like this on his team.  Sometimes it works out that these guys are effective enough to at least be able to eat up some minutes and make a few hits on the fourth line.  Perhaps fight when called upon every now and then.  But with so many pressing needs on the roster this year, the jury is still out as to whether dressing these two regularly will be a smart move.

Next: Central Division Team Comparisons

I usually look at the glass half full.  So, if pressed, I would still have to say I believe that the Chicago Blackhawks will be successful again this year.  But they certainly have to work out some kinks.  It may not always look pretty; but that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it?  That’s what makes watching sports so fun.  If all the winning was easy, it would get boring pretty fast.  No, it’s the overcoming of obstacles, the digging deep, that we all want to see.  Well folks, we’re going to see plenty of that this year.

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