It’s that time of week. Time to answer the mail.
With the success that Marian Hossa and Toomas Kopecky had playing on the same line together for Slovakia, do you think Joel Quenneville will try and put them on the same line when they come back?
Jeff Parry (Chicago, IL),
Good question. Obviously, we’ll find out Tuesday. With the Hawks at near full-health, I’m going to say no. There might some games where they start together, but I don’t see it as a long term thing. Kopecky is going to have to fight for playing time, and I don’t see it happening on the top two lines when everyone is playing.
I know I should feel good for Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but after Sunday’s game, I just feel down as an American. Particularly because Crosby scored the winning goal. I think Crosby has replaced Derrick Jeter as the guy I love to hate. The media loves that guy, and it makes me hate him even more. Help me justify my hate Jesse. Please.
Justin (Chicago, IL)
Hmm. Hate is a strong word. I guess he’s not the most out-going kind of guy, so if you have a pre-disposition against Canadians, he might not give you an excuse to love him. I look at the Olympics as a total win for USA Hockey. They played toe to toe, split the games, scored the same amount goals against each other and it easily could have gone either way. Considering where American hockey was coming from, that’s a win.
Jesse, was interested in your take on how all six played in the Olympics. Kane and Keith played really well, but I think Toews was the best. Your thoughts and or ranks? Thanks!
Fitz (My Cube)
You pretty much said it. Toews was the best. Keith was very consistent. Kane had his moments and saved his best games for the final couple. Actually, Kopecky probably played better than he did at any time with the Hawks, from what I saw. Hossa did some damage as he always does. Only Seabrook didn’t get a ton of time. Babcock split him and Keith up pretty early in the tournament. Not one Hawk was bad, or made huge mistakes, that’s for sure.
Doing your best to ignore any favoritism you might have due to your capacity as Blackhawks beat writer, if you had the opportunity to select the next captain of Hockey Canada, would you pick Toews or Crosby? Considering the way Toews more than stepped up to the task presented with the Olympics, I'd have to think he's going to get some serious consideration.
Wow, great question. I was thinking about what the rosters could look like in four years if NHL players participate, and obviously they will need a new captain. I think you’re right, it doesn’t have to be Crosby, though it very well could be. In 4 years, it might be obvious that Toews is the best leader for that sort of thing. He’s on track for that. One would wear the “C” and certainly the other would wear the “A”. We’ve seen many teams where the best player isn’t the captain. Very hard to project now but based on where their careers are moving at this time, and what Toews just did this time around, I’ll say Toews for captain. It fits him better than Crosby. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a player it fits better.
How are the defensive pairings shaking out for this final stretch? Obviously Keith and Seabrook are together, but how are the remaining four lined up?
They will start each game the same way they have with Kim Johnsson taking Cam Barker’s spot with Brent Sopel, but just as Joel Quenneville has been saying, as the game moves on you’ll see Johnsson move all over the place. I’m sure he’ll take some minutes away from Keith and Seabrook down the stretch to give them a breather. That may just come in the form of penalty killing or power play, neither of which Barker was really playing. So there will be some mixing and matching, but the pairs are basically going to be the same including Campbell and Hjarmalsson.
Any chance we're going to trade Brent Sopel? I feel he takes away from our team chemistry, not to mention he always appears to be a step behind. Also, given the youth and speed of this team, wouldn't they want to give Jordan Hendry more opportunities?
I can’t tell you for sure whether they trade him, but I think there are things they like about Sopel, namely his penalty killing and shot blocking. You don’t want your stars getting in front of those shots from the point. Plus, he moved from their No. 5 defenseman to their No. 6 with the addition of Johnsson, so he has that much less responsibility. I don’t think they have a big problem with Hendry, but Sopel kind of fills a role, plus he’s been through some wars so that can’t hurt. Doesn’t mean he can’t be moved.