Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks Players As Football Athletes

By Colin Likas
Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; (L-R) Washington Redskins defensive end Corey Crawford (95), Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14), Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26), and Bills defensive back Jonathan Meeks (36) pose for a picture after their game at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; (L-R) Washington Redskins defensive end Corey Crawford (95), Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14), Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26), and Bills defensive back Jonathan Meeks (36) pose for a picture after their game at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Hockey and football have some physicality similarities, but things get very different beyond that

So, Chicago Blackhawks fans, did you know Corey Crawford was cut from the team today?

Alright, so the Blackhawks’ starting goalkeeper wasn’t cut. It was instead a former Clemson defensive end who the Washington Redskins sent packing in training camp (he’s No. 95 in the front-page picture).

Still, the tweet above got me thinking about how different Chicago Blackhawks players would fare on the gridiron. College football started in earnest today, while the NFL recently wrapped its preseason schedule. A full slate of football, much like hockey, is right around the corner.

So we’re going to look at some Blackhawks and see where they’d best fit on the football field.

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Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) is seen during game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Running back: Patrick Kane

The lead rusher is typically among the team’s fastest players, if not the fastest. Many running backs also deploy some slick moves when they’re trying to make defenders miss.

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That describes Kane pretty well. He is relatively quick on his feet, and the dekes he puts on opponents have their heads spinning and make them miss him consistently. He also has really good hands, a key to being a successful running back.

Kane might need to put on a little more weight to be a football running back, but he has the rest of the skills required.

Quarterback: Jonathan Toews

This isn’t so much about arm strength — something that isn’t particularly easy to gauge on the rink. It’s much more about leadership and being the figurehead of a team.

Sure, leaders in football come in various positions. But everyone thinks of the quarterback first when describing a football team. He’s the play caller, the guy who answers all the media questions, and the guy who receives the praise or anger after a game.

This is Toews to a T as the Blackhawks’ captain. He also has no problem taking a bit of a beating (when getting to the front of the net), something that’s key for a quarterback. He’d probably relish being a football quarterback.

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Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) is congratulated for scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Tight end: Artem Anisimov

The tight end is a pass catcher who looks like he could play defense. And he’s often asked to do so as well, though on the offensive side of the ball.

Anisimov is one of the Blackhawks’ bigger player, so he certainly has the size to play the position in football. He also has solid hands, something you’d need to catch the ball and block opponents.

On top of that, Anisimov is good as a defensive forward in hockey. That’d translate well to blocking guys on running plays on the football field.

Wide receivers: Corey Crawford and Scott Darling

These are the only two guys who are paid to catch something in hockey. Well, they’re paid to stop the puck by any means necessary, and catching it is one of those ways.

I’m not sure if Crow or Darling have the speed to be really great wide receivers, but they definitely have good hands, good anticipation skills and the best hand-eye coordination you can imagine. All of these go into make a good receiver.

While the two probably aren’t speedy, they have the size to make difficult matchups for opposing cornerbacks and safeties. They’re also fearless in net, which is probably a nice quality to have as a wide receiver.

Center: Brent Seabrook

Seabs is probably the heftiest player on the Blackhawks, and you’d like to have a big guy snapping the ball. The center has to be able to focus on accurately snapping the ball and not creating a false start while also transitioning seamlessly to blocking an opponent.

So it’s a solid combination of offensive and defensive efforts. That’s right up Seabrook’s alley, as he seems to take pride in contributing offensively from the blue line but knows his job, at the end of the day, also falls in the defensive realm.

I can’t imagine a lot of opponents would be ready and willing to take on Seabrook as a center. He seems like a guy who’d knock you on your behind pretty easily.

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Jun 3, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) is shoved by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) as center Brian Boyle (11) and goalie Ben Bishop (30) look on in the first period in game one of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Offensive lineman: Marcus Kruger

Admittedly, this pick is a little strange. When you think of offensive linemen, you think of big-but-nimble guys who try to hold back the defensive line and protect the quarterback or running back. Kruger is not big, and you would not describe his hockey style as “smashing.”

However, offensive linemen are basically guys creating offense by playing defense. That’s Kruger through and through. He’s a true defensive forward who keys in on turning play the other way. So the offensive line position is perfect for him.

Defensive lineman: Viktor Svedberg

Could you imagine being an offensive lineman, or even a running back or quarterback, and lining up staring at this guy? Svedberg checks in at 6-foot-8, 238 pounds. That alone would make him a monstrous force to stop.

Svedberg might need to work on his footwork a bit, but he’s got everything else going for him in this position. He’s got size and power and can kind of just push through opponents because of that. It’d just be really hard to stop a blitzing Svedberg.

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Dec 22, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) exchange shoves during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Cornerback: Niklas Hjalmarsson

There’s not really a position in football that has guys repeatedly getting hit all over their body with the football at close range. So Hjalmarsson has to take some kind of defensive position, and cornerback seems as good as any.

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A cornerback has the track the routes of wide receivers and try to blanket them without committing a penalty. That pretty well describes what Hjammer does on hockey defense.

Hjammer is constantly draping himself over opposing forwards and does a really good job of staying out of the box. Like cornerbacks using their hands to bat away passes and distract the receiver’s line of sight, Hjammer uses his stick to do the same thing in hockey.

Safety: Duncan Keith

Keith would also be a good option for quarterback, but it makes more sense to keep Keith at a defensive position. The safety tends to be the last line of defense, the guy who gets relied on when everything breaks down.

That certainly sounds like Keith. In addition to that, the safety is often in position to make an interception or big open-field hit. Keith has no problem picking off the puck and sending it the other way or dishing out some physicality when he needs to.

Kick returner: Artemi Panarin

Like the running back, the kick returner has to be a pretty quick guy with some sweet moves in his back pocket. He also has to be a smart decision maker, calling whether or not he wants to take a knee, call for a fair catch or return a kick.

Panarin would probably be a good kick returner. He has a bit of size and feistiness, but the big things he has are speed and stellar moves. He’s also a pretty good decision maker on offense, so he’d fit right into this job. The kick returner is often the explosive guy who can change a game in just moments. That’s definitely Panarin.

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Mar 29, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Michal Rozsival (32) stretches prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

Long snapper: Michal Rozsival

Any position for which Rozsival doesn’t have to move much would be great. But long snapper is no walk in the park. You’ve got to get off a really lengthy and accurate toss between your legs while worrying about defenders bearing down on you.

But Rozsival has some surprising strength and focus when he’s on his game. And he’s the gritty veteran guy who can hold off opposing attackers fairly well.

Next: Happy Birthday, Michal Rozsival

Holder and kicker: Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa

There’s no real reason I’m putting these guys in these positions. I just feel like a veteran duo that has some past chemistry would probably be good at converting on field goals and extra points. Hossa would probably enjoy trying to kick a football as well.

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