A day after the St. Louis Blues released their Winter Classic Alumni Game roster, the Chicago Blackhawks did the same Friday
Just prior to the Chicago Blackhawks dropping the puck with the Washington Capitals on Friday, the team released its roster for the Winter Classic Alumni Game. This game will be played on Dec. 31, featuring stars of past rosters.
Although “stars,” in the Blackhawks’ case, may be a little lenient. The Blues released a star-studded roster for this game (we’ll get to that later). The Blackhawks released … well, I don’t know quite what this is.
Adrian Aucion, Murray Bannerman, Adam Burish, Kyle Calder, Daniel Carcillo, Jim Cummins, Eric Daze, Ben Eager, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Dave Mackey, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Darren Pang, Steve Poapst, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Gary Suter, Jimmy Waite, Tony Esposito (coach), Cliff Koroll (coach)
Let’s start with the good
Alright, bear with me here. So Daze is a solid pick. He played in last season’s Alumni Game as well, against the Minnesota North Stars/Wild. Despite playing mostly during a rough time in Chicago, Daze had a really nice career with the Blackhawks. He’s a deserving roster pick.
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Guys from the 1980s like Bannerman, Konroyd, Mulvey, Murray, O’Callahan and Suter are solid throwbacks. Guys still involved in the organization on a regular basis — Waite, Mayers, Murray and Konroyd — are fun to see as well.
I also like having Carcillo on the roster. I really hope he can use this stage to try and promote awareness for traumatic head injuries in the NHL. Carcillo has been a crusader for that cause since his retirement and the death of friend and former Blackhawk Steve Montador.
And now, the not so good
OK, let’s start with the most egregious thing: Darren Pang. The goaltender only played with the Blackhawks in his brief NHL career (87 games between 1984 and 1989). But you know what Pang does now? He’s the TV color commentator for the St. Louis Blues.
Why in the world is he playing for the Blackhawks? Just because the Blues are involved in this game? Make Pang a coach on their team. Blackhawks fans don’t want him.
Aucoin, as he was last season, is an awful pick. The guy brutalized the captaincy right before Jonathan Toews came to town to save it. Aucoin is not remembered fondly in Chicago, and unlike Daze, it wasn’t like Aucoin was dominating on a bad team. He was just bad.
Burish and Eager. Sigh. I mean, I know they were around for the start of the organization’s revival. But honestly? Couldn’t find anyone better than these two, who could still be playing NHL hockey if they were any good?
And let’s talk about all the random names. Cummins? Twenty-four points and 674 penalty minutes in 199 games with Chicago. Poapst? Thirty points in 220 games with Chicago as the team was in the midst of becoming the league’s worst. Reid Simpson? Ninety-one forgettable games in Chicago.
And who are we missing? Koroll is not playing (though I’m guessing there’s a reason for that). No Chris Chelios. No Ed Olczyk. No Jeremy Roenick. No Denis Savard. Blackhawks fans have very little to be excited about with this roster.
But what about the Blues?
Here’s what St. Louis will counter with at Busch Stadium.
Larry Patey, Keith Tkachuk, Dallas Drake, Adam Oates, Brett Hull, Gino Cavallini, Scott Mellanby, Bernie Federko, Peter Stastny, Terry Yake, Kelly Chase, Scott Young, Pierre Turgeon, Wayne Gretzky, Al MacInnis, Bruce Affleck, Barret Jackman, Garth Butcher, Jamie Rivers, Paul Cavallini, Jeff Brown, Bryce Salvador, Chris Pronger, Mike Liut, Martin Brodeur, Ed Staniowski, Chris Mason
THEY HAVE WAYNE FREAKING GRETZKY ON THEIR TEAM.
OK, I know not all NHL teams have a Gretzky they can go to, but this roster has so much more to offer than the one the Blackhawks pushed out.
Tkachuk, Oates, Hull, Turgeon, MacInnis. Those are cool guys to come see. Gretzky, obviously. Pronger is technically still an NHL player (under contract with Arizona), so I don’t know how he’s allowed to play. I also didn’t think he was healthy enough to ever play again. But he’s a great guy to watch if healthy. Jackman is awful, but his return will thrill the hometown fans.
Even guys like Federko, Mason, Salvador and Mellanby aren’t the worst ever. I mean, they aren’t great, but at least they’re generally known. Brodeur is a weird choice, but again, name recognition.
The Blues did a good job constructing their roster. I’m not sure how many guys turned down or weren’t called by the Blackhawks, but their roster construction was not as successful for this Alumni Game.