Hey folks. Welcome to our weekly Blackhawks chat. The Hawks just finished up practice and are headed to Nashville. Plenty of questions to get to so let's start. Feel free to fire away.
What's your take on the hawks goalie situation?
If I had a nickel for every time....Well, it's been shaky bit the last couple of game for Huet have been confidence builders. We all know they came against bad offenses but nonetheless, you have to start somewhere. The thing I've learned is about Niemi. I wasnt convinced he could be the guy but IM starting to think he could be IF Huet goes backwards. PLenty of time to figure it out.
I know that Ben Eager is injured (concussion) and Hossa is coming back from surgery. What are the current statuses of these two players and their returns?
The news about Eager isnt good. I dont know that for any other reason except there simply is no timetable for his return. We think Toews will be back very soon (though thats going on longer than first expected) but theres just no word on Eager. Hes not available to the media and the Haws just dont know when he'll be ready.Hossa skated for the first time with the team today. He's 3 weeks away.
How bad are the injuries to Toews and Seabrook? Will these injuries be nagging all year?
Seabrook is back. They are not overtly concerned about Toews but it has been a week now with no change in his status. I dont think he has a history of concussions in his young career so you wouldnt think its long term. Hard to get exact info when it comes to concussions..Basically, when the player feels better they let him do more..
Who would you like to see on a line with Hossa upon his return to the Ice? The Hawks have looked pretty so far but a player like Hossa can bring another big scorer to the lineup and really add some depth. How much of a difference can he be?
Common thinking around the Hawks is that Hossa will play with Dave Bolland. He has kind of indicated that without saying it directly. The other winger is a bit of a toss up. I like Toews, Sharp, Kane together..so maybe Bolland, Hossa, and Buff or Ladd...YOu may end up putting either Sharp or Kane with him. I always assume wingers are interchangeable as far as right and left are concerned so Im just throwing it out there...
Why is it these guys can go from 1 period looking sharp to comming out and playin crap hockey the next?? why can't they play hard hockey for 60 minutes?
If I had that answer I'd be coaching...Why can the worst team in the league beat the best? That's sports. SOME of it has to do with the schedule. If they're playing a bunch of games in a week..there will be times where, yes, they'll have a run in a particular game but then have some down moments as well. Hard to sustain when you are fighting fatigue Also, remember, there is another team out there making adjustments, etc. so the answer is , there is no one answer.
Jesse, I am a big flyers fan, but i watch any hockey game i can on the tube. Jonathan Toews looks to me exactly how a young Simon Gagne looked prior to packing on some muscle. The comparisons continue with this recent head injury. What is the word in Chicago regarding Toews status? do you think it could drag out through the entire year ala Gagne years ago? I hope not...the kid is sure fun to watch.
Answered already kind of but the bottom line is no one knows. I dont think the doctors know exactly. When he wakes up and feels better is when it has subsided so until that happens there can always be a fear of it lingering for a long time. From the indicators they DO have, they say it shouldnt be a season long thing..
Which team has surprised you most so far in the NHL. Columbus?
That's easy. Colorado. Columbus and even LA, you could see coming. I really like the Chicagoan Craig Anderson. Hes been unbelivable for them in the nets. Maybe the Hawks didnt give him enough time but they have been shocking to me.
Hey Jesse, is it me or does Huet look a lot more confident in his past 2 games against Nashville and Minnesota? Also any info on where I can meet some of the Hawks when I go to the Nov 5th game vs PHX? Help a brother out!
He has but it helps to play a bad offense. I mean its not Crosby or Malkin coming out you. Its still huge. I mentioned this in a recent blog, he may had an epiphany, the week he didnt play. He said hes playing more aggrssive and desperate now.The used to go to Stanleys after the game but everyone knws that so I dont think they go there anymore. Not sure where they go.
What team in the west will give the Blackhawks problems as we go along into this season?
In general, it's the "tougher" type teams, Calgary and Vancouver, for example. The Detroits and Floridas of the world are better matchups. Think soft, that's better for the Hawks.
Do you think there's a chance Chelios will join the Hawks?
If there were at least two injuries on defense I think there would be a chance. It's highly doubtful, but you never say never.
Since the hawks are getting hit hard with the current salary cap issue, is there any possible way that gm stan bowman can get a deal with keith, toews, and kane? if so does that mean trading someone?
I get this question every week. Yes, they can get the deal done this season but once those deals kick in next year, more than likely one or two other players would have to be moved.
I have been pleasantly surprised with Brent Sopel so far this season, especially when paired with Duncan Keith. What did you think of the Keith-Sopel pairing the last 2 games?
I liked it as a temporary thing, but long-term Sopel is a sixth defenseman, and that's it.
What do you expect out of Patrick Kane point-wise this season? I think he has a good shot to be close to 100 if he plays as well as we know he can, and plays with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa some. Those two guys are finishers and should help his assists, right?
Buffy......a Hawk long term or short term?
I agree. 100 might be right on the money. A lot of the time you talk about huge point totals like that, it comes down to power play points. If the Hawks are great on the power play, he's going to load up on points.
Good question about Buff. I simply don't know for sure but I would think they need him as a big body. If he continues to develop in front of the next then hes pretty valuable so I'llsay yes to long term.
With the return of Hossa, do you think the hawks will trade Versteeg to clear up cap space?
Getting a lot of these type questions. They dont need to rid themselves of salary with Hossa's return. Not THIS year. I think they would be foolish to trade anyone when you have a chance at the Finals at least. Deal with next year later.
Hey Jesse, what kind of contracts do you see the big three receiving?
Good question. I think Toews is kind of easy to predict. Somewhere between 6-9 years at 7 or 8 per. Kane probably similiar..maybe a couple less years. It leaves them both a chnace at another good contract. I dont think Keith gets a Brian Campbell type deal. He'll get a good per year salary but I think its less years than the other guys. On the other hand, there arent a ton of great defenseman coming up through the system. Just a guess on that last one.
Madden the best FA signing this year, do you think they will bring him back next year?
Lets see how Hossa plays before saying that but until now he's been great. In a situation like that, theres no way to predict next year. He's 36. If hes good all year and shows no signs of age catching up, of course they could but too early to tell. Thats a late July signing.
When are we ever going to hear you on the Afternoon Saloon or Silvy and Waddle?
Best question yet! lol. Very soon. There were some "technical" things to work out for me before I could join them so its coming soon and hopefully some kind of hockey show on 1000 as well.
Do you think we will win the Detroit series this year?
Jesse, as much as I love Adam Burish and the tough roll he plays when healthy, I think that the importance of the "tough guy" roll has diminished in the "new" NHL. It used to be that every good team needed fighters to protect the goal scorers, but if you look at the Red Wings the past few years, they have only had a handfull of fighting majors. My question to you is this...with Troy Brouwer playing tough, strong, and mean this season, is it possible Burish's days are numbered?
The thing that people overlook is Burish and to some exten Eager can both skate. Stan Bowman said it the other day..in todays game in you can skate AND be physical, its a good combination. Burish has it. Hes a better skater than Brouwer in my opinion so I think hes pretty valuable.
Thats should read "if you can skate"
So after the back to back the Hawks are off for a while, are we going to see them send a lot of players back to Rockford?
No. They still practice
Hey Jesse, love your blog and insight. Who is the most popular Blackhawk in Chicago? How would you rate him among other Chicago pro sports stars?
Its either Toews or Kane. Probably Kane because of his personality, despite the summer thing. He still ranks behind just about any decent Bear and Cub..maybe on par with Derrick Rose. I dont know..just guessing.
When Eager and Hossa return we're gonna have to get rid of 2 forwards. I see Frasier for sure but who do you think the other will be?
Get rid of might be a little strong. Remember, you can keep up to 3 extra players on your roster even if they dont play so maybe Frasier rotates out or what not. IF Eager returns, its a tough call. Brouwer could sit a little, maybe Madden gets a game off for some rest..Cross that bridge when you come to it. Im pretty sure there will be other injuries to deal with so it may answer itself.
Do you think this is fianlly the year, the Hawks take over the division, to me Detroit finally looks old and slow?
Yeah I do. Bottom line. If not this year, then when?
Jesse,Wouldnt you think with Seabrook out, Barks wouldve got more playing time? Im assuming being a liability on defense is the reason for the limited ice time...unless you know of somehting else?
No, I think you're right. Right now, we know what Barks is..and thats not a guy thats going to be out there in the final minute protecting a lead. He was always touted as being more offensive than defensive and so far he has and boy do I like his shot. Hes just not one of their better defensive defensemen.
Much like last year, the Hawks seem to win possession when they battle along the boards. Now they look very comfortable skating the puck into the zone. Aside from taking less penalties, what is the Hawks greatest weakness, if any?
I dont know if its a weakness but dealing with a teams really good forecheck I think is something to watch. In a tougher game, can they grind it out with their own toughness..thats one thing that comes to mind.
Seems that Barker is our best trade asset right now, big contract and not alot of minutes. Who do they go after?
I wont give you a name but IF they were to do something it would be for another defensive defenseman but with the way Hjarmalsson has developed, I think what they have is pretty decent unless there are further injuries back there.
do you notice that Kaner has a more determined look in his eye this year...perhaps due to his "interesting" off season? He just seems to be more focused...
I dont think it has anything to do with the offseason. Its a contract year. His third in the league. It sounds like he was taking the offseason pretty seriously despite the cab thing.I think he wants to be known as one of the best and you dont do that by resting on your laurels.
Jesse, do you ever travel with the team?
No. No one in the media travels "with" the team. I do not go to the road games..until playoffs!
Do you see the Olympics taking a toll on some the hawks key players such as Kane, Toews, Hossa, Huet, or any one else?
Its always possible but let me tell you I've been here when the Hawks had no Olympians or All-Stars and the Wings had like 10 and they still stunk in the 2nd half and the Wings would win the Cup. Good players are good and it evens out with the other players in the league playing in the Olympics.
Do you think Christoble Huet can lead us to the Stanly Cup finals this year?
Yes its possible. Im not in the boat that there is no way with him...has to play better but they dont rely on him the same way, say, Vancouver does with Luongo
Was it just me or was Jack Skille playing really well before they sent him back to Rockford? I thought he was all over the Ice making plays?
He was. That seems strictly a Cap move.
With Detroit scuffling early in the year, (hopefully all year), who do you is the other team in the division that will give the Hawks the most trouble in winning the division?
I always underestimate St. Louis but Im going with Columbus. They are buying what Hitchcock is selling..as they did last year
What do you think is the reason for the Hawks great start out of the gate at home? Could it be contributed to the revived fan base?
They are a good team and have played some avergae ones. Simple. Crowd helps
Is Toews travelling to Nash?
Hey Jesse, have any of the players been outspoken about Huet's tough start?
Not really. They will defend him because thats what being on a team is all about AND its October. If you were to hear any player even hint at something it would be much later after a long stretch a bad performances but these guys pick each other up. Its not going to happen. If anything, they will be outspoken in his defense.
What type of drills has Hossa been participating in at practice? Mostly skating, or has he been doing some shooting?
Some shooting. Today was his first time with the team on the ice. He ran some drills with Fraser and Kopecky but then did work on the side on his own
Do you think kane, toews, and keith will have back-loaded contracts to help with the current big salaries on the books the next couple of years
Lets put it this way..they will get contracts that will most help the Hawks now and in the future. I havent studied it enough to know if 2 need to be backloaded and one front loaded or vice versa but the basic answer to your question is yes. It all comes down to the best math for the Hawks
With Huet in the net tomorrow night, if he keeps up his strong play from the last two games, do you go back to him the next night against the Habs, or do you think we'll see Niemi on Friday?
I think there is a chance he plays Friday if its kind of an "easy" game Thursday. It is his former team and players usually like to play against their old teams. Q left open the possibility.
What are your thoughts on the Eastern Conference? Do you feel the Western Conference matches up well? It seems teams in the East have a much more flashy offense and big names. Just looking at strength of schedule within a conference for the two teams in the Finals; which conference has the advantage?
I defintiely think the East is stronger. Im not a big fan of what the West has to offer. Its part of the reason the Hawks have a great chance at the Finals. I think the NW division can be competitive within its division but venturing out, not so much. The West is top heavy but I do like the Central. Great coaches in our division. Still, the East is the Beats right now--iin my opinion
Ill take a couple more and then wrap for this week
Jhalmarsson is doing such a steady job on D, very underrated, besides being a tough kid, I wish some of his decision making would rub off on Barker who scares me everytime he touches the puck. Any thoughts on the Hawks moving Barker and his inflated contract?
If they did some big deal involving a goaltender, maybe he would go but this guy is going to lead defensemen in goals scored for the Hawks. After the season is another story. He could be a guy that goes to clear the roomn for hte Big 3.
Theres been alot going around the league with the 3rd Jerseys. When are the Hawks going to release what the Jersey looks like? I know its basically the Jersey from the Winter Classic last year. But Ive heard with some differences. If it is the same Jersey, why take so long to start wearing it?
I have a few of these type questions. Im not sure of the exact answer excpet to say, it all comes down to marketing. I cant tell you what they are waiting for..but Im sure there is a marketing reason behind it.
Are the Hawks committed to Quenneville long term?
I think so. Things can always change but theres no reason not to believe he'll be here through this run with one of the youngest teams in the league.
Thanks everyone. I love talking Hawks and we'll do it again next Wednesday. Dont forget to read my blog on espnchicago.com and you can follow me on twitter @espnchihawksDont worry just hawk news not what I had for breakfast. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org