Hey everyone. Thanks for jumping in for a weekly Hawks chat. Im at the United Center and John Madden just sat down for a few minutes to answer some of your questions. Its game day so we wont keep him long. Fire away for John first and then I'll stick around.
Hey John, how has your transition been with your new team and how does this team compare with your stanley cup champion Devils teams?
Transition has been really easy with the guys. Guys in Chicago have been great and very accomodating.
A lot of similiarities with the 2000 Stanley Cup team and this one. It starts with young talent.
What are your thoughts about the goaltending situation? I know you guys want to stick up for a teammate, but Huet has admitted that he's struggling.
There's a bunch of Huet questions so I'll just say we're confident in Huet's abilities to back this team. At times we haven't played very well in front of him and at times he hasn't gotten many breaks. We've kicked 3 pucks in on him and one hit the glass and took a bad bounce off the ice on him so hopefully his luck will change and we'll start rolling again.
What was it like as a visiting player coming to the UC and hearing the crowd, especially during the anthem, and what's it like having that fan base on your side?
As a visiting player you couldn't really hear the anthem, just the fans. Now being on this side, its great. Its definitely an advantage for us at home with such a good crowd into the game.We can feed off that energy in the crowd.
Do you guys get upset when you hear fans booing Huet? Or do you feel they paid their money and have a right to express dissatisfaction?
I agree, fans can express themselves anyway they feel like but it does upset me as a teamate of Huet. We know he has the ability and we need him to help go where we want to go.
what can the blackhawks do this year? Stanley Cup?
Stanley Cup is definitely our goal as Im sure it is many other teams in the league but its a process every team has to go through to get themselves ready for the playoffs. You build towards April and May.
Hey Jesse, do you think Marian Hossa will impact the Hawks right away? And can Niemi step up to the plate?
HOssa's impact is going to be tremendous for this hockey team. I spent many years playing against him in the East. Ive always found that his game elevates as the season heads towards the playoffs. Niemi definitely has the ability to play in the NHL. Great work ethic but right now its Huet's time but when Niemi is called upon, like tonight, he'll be ready.
I plan on getting down to a hawks game what is the best place to eat near the arena and the best nightlive after??
So far my fav. places to eat are Carmines and Gibsons. I like Rosebud as well but my kids like Dave and Busters. Nightlife happens at my house cause I have 2 kids and I'm 36 and need my rest.
Speaking of rest, I need to get some for the game tonight but I want to thank you all for the support. You guys have been tremendous to me and my family in the short time I've been here.
I want to thank John for a few minutes, lets continue with our chat so fire some more questions.
While the goaltending situation has already been discussed at length, I was wondering what other pieces you think this team might need to be better suited for a deep playoff run. Maybe a bigger physical presence or a solid, stay-at-home defensemen?
Yeah, they are a little thin on defense so IF there is an injury it could expose some issues. By the way, Jordan Hendry will play tonight for Sopel.And unless they have to go get a goaltender, I'd say that's about it--some extra depth on D, if he has size, all the better.
What are your feelings about Cristobal Huet? It seems that Antti Niemi is not quite ready, but has shown glimpses of good things to come. Can the Hawks compete this year without a true number one goalie?
Yes, they can and I wouldnt count Niemi out as being not ready. Its not my first choice but every year, it seems, there are rookie goaltenders who have success even on bad teams. Why can't he on a good team? He has so far.
whats goin on with ben eager?
Good question. The hawks, like a lot of teams, are keepng pretty quiet when it comes to concussions. Apparently he got knocked around at some point and since he's more prone to that kind of injury, he suffered another one. Like a lot of these guys with concussions, they are waiting for the symptoms to subside and then will go from there.
Nick Hjallmerson (spelling!?!?) "The Hammer", has really been impressive since becoming a regular... really improving game in and game out. Do you think he could eventually become an All-Star or perhaps Norris candidate? What do you see are the things he needs to work on?
He has been good but I dont see Norris or even All-star in his near future. He's just solid but he's not really a puck carrier and though he will get some points, that's not his game. Good defense is what he brings and maybe that gets you an all-star nod, who knows.
Jesse, which player do you find to be the best quote, the most articulate guy on the team?
Its close. Burish is always good. Kane does think about his answers and doesn't just give you cliches. Toews will explain things pretty well. I'd say those guys.
Do you think Burish will be back for the playoffs?
Which player do you think will have a breakout year?
That's a tough one cause not sure what defines a break out year. I guess in some ways Hjarmalsson..maybe Buff standing in front of the net...I think Ladd is kind of under rated. Here I'll give you two defenseman that will have career highs in points: Seabs and Barker. I LOVE Barker's shot. I predicted around 15 goals for him so lets go with Barks
how much of a leash does Huet have if he continues his bad game?
They are already playing Niemi in a spot that Huet would normally play so the leash is being shortened now but as far as getting rid of him..that's a ways off, if at all.
Hi Jesse!With Jonny T scoring his first goal, do you predict that he will "light it up" in bunches, like last year?
Yes, I do but not because he scored the first one. He works so hard and eventually with that, and some skill the puck will start bouncing your way. Its inevitable for him barring health problems so I think its coming.
Who has taken over the enforcer role for the Hawks now that Burish is gone?
No one. But I dont think its a big deal. A small deal, yes, but not a big one.
Has there been any new information regarding the NHL's investigation into the contracts of Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger and Roberto Luongo?
I havent heard anything.
There has been plenty of talk surrounding Skile and the salary cap situation. Beyond all that, what do you think about the development of Skile? Has it been slower than you and the Hawks anticipated?
Yes, it has been slower. I think he was starting to come around but he hasn't shown that burst enough. Tough lineup to crack as far as top 6 forwards are concerned..He needed to be better, quicker.
do you think that huet should be the starting goalie.
I kind of like what they are doing now. You don't give up on him but you dont just keep going back to him either. Mix and match. As I like to tell people, at least for another week or so, ITS OCTOBER. No reason to panic
Everyone talks about the big 3 (Toews, Kane, and Keith) as being the most important to sign to new contracts, but outside of them, what player is the most important to keep for the long term?
Its a good question. Obviously, Hossa is here and so is Campbell. I think I might go with Sharp..maybe Buff if he continues to advance. Sharp is a really good player. Fast, smart, and a finisher. They dont grow on trees. Neither do big guys with some skill, which Buff has.
Jesse, don't you think we need to get a much stronger physical presence on the team? Some times a simple fight or a huge hit can get the crowd going and pump up your team. Not to mention I think we have the best chance to score 4 on 4 than almost any team in the league. With Burish and Eager out who else can provide this?
Answered this a little before. It would be nice to have a true heavyweight but do I think its needed? No. Detroit hasnt had one since Probert left it feels like and they have done just fine.
What can we expect from Andrew Ebbett? Will he be productive on the wing?
From what I've seen he does fit in. Fast and small..thats kind of the Hawks these days. I dont think he'll be any less productive on the wing and remember, 4th line players dont see much ice but hopefully he can contribute in ways the 4th line did last year.
Getting some Madden questions. Sorry, he could only stay for the first 15 min. Hes gone.
Sharp going to be trade bait to help with the cap issues? Doesn't someone have to go?
I get this question a lot. More than likely a player or two from the larger core will have to go. Steeg, Barks, Sharp, Buff...guys like that. Ive stated I think Steeg is a bit expendable and I guess Barks, though I like wat he brings...who knows which way it will go...
Have time for a few more...
Will Huet now be the backup goaltender? He should be, SWISS CHEESE
Not necessarily the back up. Its not always one or the other. Maybe hes somewhere in between. Maybe they split time until something definitive becomes apparent. I would not call him the back up.
I know recently there has been some line juggling. I think one of the best duos on a line we have had has been Buff and Kane. They play really well together and manage to get excellent chances. Will this continue?
I think they will stay together. Im not sure I love that combo as much as you do. Kane does things so quick..BUff a little slower cause of his size. I do like them on the power play together, not sure of same line though.
Jesse, what is the NHL doing to get Versus back on Directv? I am getting worried that when the playoffs come, we won't be able to watch our Hawks. Thanks!
Apologize.Havent heard the latest. I know earlier in the season, they were saying it was between Versus and Direct TV but you know behind the scenes they must be putting pressure on. Wish I had a better answer.
Do you expect any of Blackhawks participating in the Olympics ... I know Kane, Toews, Sharp and Buff participated in their respected country training camps, but what's the chances of them making the actual team?
I think a few will. Kane for sure. I think Buff (i may be wrong!)makes it unless he's really bad for the next month. The canadian team is so competitive its hard to say. I have seen Steve Yzerman at a couple games doing some scouting so he's giving them a good look. I would guess Toews..maybe Keith but its tough to predict.
I hear a ton of talk that the Blackhawks really have handcuffed themselves with the Salary cap not just this year but especially for next year when it is suppose to drop. How did this happen?? What can the Hawks do to insure that they can re-sign, Keith, Toews, and Kane?? Or will they lose one?
It happened when Dale and company started handing out money like it grew on trees but it also happens when you have a good team so not that unusual but there were some mistakes including the RFA mess this past off season. That didnt help.
They shouldnt lose one if they dont want to but they may lose one or two others...
Hey Jess, I feel a goalie's success largely depends on the defensive players in from of him. Do you or John agree?
John is gone but Im sure he would agree. But heres the point. You cant play perfect for 60 minutes. At some point or two you need your golatender to make some big saves , let alone the easy ones. Considering the amount of shots Huet has seen, he hasnt done that by a long shot.
Who do you believe will break out for the Hawks this year and why?
Answered earlier. Barker
Noone is denying that the Hawks have one of the most explosive offenses in hockey, if not #1. But can they really even stay competative with the horrid goaltending situation? And with the cap like that, there is no relief in sight.
Well, yes. Have they been competitive so far? They have and I dont think he can play worse. Give it another 4 weeks from right now and see where we are.
Thanks everyone. Next wed at noon, we'll do it again. Enjoy the game tonight. You can follow me on twitter @espnchihawks