Everybody loves year end lists, so I have put together the six most important Chicago Blackhawks stories of 2012. Obviously, the lockout is the biggest story of 2012 but I prefer to talk about events that actually happened, or in some cases didn't happen, to the Blackhawks organization.
Stan Bowman does not acquire any big names at trade deadline nor via free agency.
General Manager Stan Bowman took a lot of heat for not making a big splash at the trade deadline. He did acquire defenceman Johnny Oduya for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2013. Oduya was a pretty solid addition to the Hawks blueline and helped stabilize the 2nd pairing, but he wasn't the big splash some Chicago fans wanted to see. I had no problem with Bowman's trade deadline actions. There was not a whole lot to chose from and I didn't want him to overpay for an average player like Paul Gaustad.
The only moves Bowman made in free agency was bringing in two more veteran defencemen in Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival and bringing back Martin St Pierre who is now the captain for the Rockford IceHogs. There were two big prizes this summer in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Bowman threw his hat in the ring and lost on both. He went for it, but looking at the contracts both players got from the Minnesota Wild, I am happy we won't have those handcuffs in town. Knowing what we know now, in regards to the lockout, not making many moves could turn out to be the best plan.
Jonathan Toews concussion
Jonanthan Toews suffered a concussion somewhere during an early February road trip. It most likely occurred either in San Jose on February 10 or the next night in Phoenix. Toews hid the concussion symptoms from the team and played in the next four games. Eventually the concussion caught up with the captain and caused him to miss the final 22 games of the regular season and cause a major panic among Blackhawks fans. There was a point in late March where I had even said to shut him down since I didn't think one playoff run was worth risking the future of the best player on the team. Tazer returned to the ice for the Hawks playoff series against the Coyotes. Even though he had 4 points (2 G, 2 A) in the 6 game series he didn't look quite like himself. Toews may have benefited from the long lockout to insure his full recovery.
The emergence of Andrew Shaw
Blackhawks fans are always paying attention to what is coming up through the Rockford pipeline. We have been hearing the names of Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach for a couple of years now, but it was a relative unknown who made the biggest splash in Chicago. Andrew Shaw made his debut in Philadelphia, on January 5th, where he made an immediate impact with a goal and a fight. Shaw provided a lot of well needed grit and toughness to the Blackhawks lineup. He played 37 games, in two stints with the Hawks, and put up 23 points (12 G, 11 A). Shaw made national headlines when he played Joe Pesci to Mike Smith's Robert Di Nero in one of the greatest acting jobs I have ever seen.
Marian Hossa's season ending injury
I witnessed one of the scariest hits I have ever seen, at the United Center, on April 17th. We all know what happened when, the skid mark on the underwear of life that is Raffi Torres, ended the season of Marian Hossa. I will never forget how freakishly quiet the UC got while Hoss lay completely motionless on the ice after the assault. I saw people crying as we all held our collective breath hoping #81 was ok. After Hossa was carted off and the game continued the anger began to set in. The fact the Blackhawks did not even get a single second of power play time for that hit and the Coyotes did, infuriated me. And to watch Torres take his next shift while Marian Hossa was in an ambulance left me at a loss for words, which is rare. The lockout has helped Hossa because he has not missed any time on the ice with his team. The fact that he just recently got cleared to be on the ice shows that he would have missed a good portion of the season had it started in October. Only time will tell if Hossa will ever fully recover from the horrible injury and be the dominant player we have known. I personally, have my doubts.
Cory Crawford's inconsistency
Last season was major disappointment for Corey Crawford. As I watched the Blackhawks and the Coyotes shake hands, at the end of their playoff series, I was left wondering if Crawford will ever be a true number 1 goalie in this league. When you can't keep Ray Emery off the ice that is a major problem. He started the same amount of games he did in 2010-11 but won 3 less games, had no shutouts, gave up .42 more goals a game and his save percentage dropped .014 points. It will take a long time and some tremendous play to erase the memories of the 2 horrible OT goals Crawford let in during the playoffs. I am hoping last year was just a "sophomore slump" but whenever the next season starts I will have my doubts if Crawford is the right man for the job,
Epic 9 game losing streak
When I watched the Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers, from a Nashville, TN bar, on January 20th the Hawks had the most points in the NHL. Little did I know it would be nearly a month before the Hawks would win again. The next night I watched the Blackhawks mail it in versus the Predators and start an epic 9 game losing streak. Had the Hawks gone .500 during that streak they could have won the division and been the #1 seed in the Western Conference. A lot changed for the Hawks in that 9 game stretch. I think they lost a lot of swagger and confidence in themselves that affected them down the stretch. Hopefully this is a streak that will never repeat itself.
You can vote on the main page what you think is the top story of 2012. If you have your own choice that I left of my list please add in the comments below. Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for sticking around and reading when there has not be much to talk about. Be safe tonight, see you in 2013!