...we can get you hooked like a crackhead junkie. Anyway, continuing our socialist dream of a season preview, today I'll look at a question from Jrs23:
-Will Turco receive the same treatment from the meatheads at the UC as Huet?
Well, lots of people have gone broke trying to predict the behavior of the unwashed masses (this is how you end up with something as hilarious and stupid as The Tea Party movement), but I'll do my best. I have to say, over the summer I was pretty impressed with the majority of readers on this blog and others that the general shoulder-shrug that Niemi's exit got. Everyone had done the math, knew what Niemi was at this point in his career, and how the Hawks system tends to minimize what the goalie is responsible for. And while some writers in this city tried to stoke some outrage, albeit half-heartedly, I didn't see too many taking the bait.
Sadly, a great majority of those occupying seats in the UC do not read this blog, no matter what McClure and I might think or claim in our most arrogant and self-important moments (of which there are plenty).
With the Hawks being the hot-ticket in town right now (and if you don't believe it, see how quickly your preseason tickets gets snapped up on the Exchange), there's going to be a fair number of bandwagon types around from the get-go, not from March on as last year. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as these are people we can teach and bring in to our every happy yet dysfunctional family. But a lot of these are only familiar with the team they came to know last spring, and the first time a power play doesn't score within 30 seconds you'll be hearing a lot of "Well if Buff were in front...", even though a lot of Buff's power play time didn't come in front of the net, if it came at all. Or the first time the Hawks don't bury three in the first period, the calls for Steeger will get louder. It's the nature of the beast.
Unfortunately, this will also apply to Marty Turco. Last year, Hawks fans came with knives sharpened from the opening bell for Cristobal Huet, even though no one's been able to tell me what exactly the sin was he committed during his first year here, when he played half the games -- and generally well -- and didn't play in the playoffs. All he did was sign a big contract offered. Now, while Huet's biggest problem was having the mental capacity of a puppy, it certainly didn't help that the UC crowd turned every game into a road game for him. Even when he was stellar in November and December -- and he was, look it up -- he and all of us knew that the boos and bile were just around the corner. A professional athlete should be mentally tougher than that, granted, but still, I think it was kind of a ridiculous circumstance.
Now, Turco is not saddled with what is obviously considered one of the biggest offenses in this town -- having a large contract (daaap, I still dunno 'bout dis Cutman! He needs a beard like Orkman!). However, Turco will be plying his trade in front of large swaths of people who will claim that Niemi was the best goalie they've ever seen, because it's the only goalie they've ever seen. All of these people are dying for the Hawks to win again mostly so they can claim "they were there from the beginning", and the moment Turco looks like not providing that, they'll display their "expertise".
Secondly, and this is an issue we'll get into more in the coming days, the Hawks first two months could be a little rockier than we're used to. There are lineup issues to sort out, new players to develop a rapport with, and other players still shaking out the cobwebs of a season far longer than any have experienced. The Hawks will lose games in October and November that we're not accustomed to seeing them lose. Generally, the first place eyes turn in the goalie.
That said, Turco is made of far sterner stuff than Cris is. He has a pretty sharp sense of humor to deflect it all, and has been through this before in Dallas. I also don't expect him to shit the bed at all, and he's got a team in front of him that can still win games when he's off. But yeah, just you wait for that first night he lets in four.
-Now that we're a couple days into camp and new questions have emerged, I'm going to do another cattle call for more questions for our preview in the comments of this post. Have at it.