Dear Coach Q

Usually my thing, but we'll keep it in the family. My brother, the Ombudsman took the responsibility this time. Cry nepotism all you want, you'll be right. -Sam

Hi Q,

Ombudsman here. I know you’re used to getting letters from the slimmer, angrier, balder Fels. But we thought we’d mix it up. Try something new. I think you’ll appreciate it. After all, I’ve seen some of your line combinations lately… Anyway, this is just you and I here. So I’m gonna say some shit and just get out of your way. Maybe you’re swinging into town for the weekend. Maybe you’re going to Santa Anita. I, for one, would not blame you if you did. I’d stay away from Chicago. People are losing their shit and they’re no fun to be around. Spend a day at the track, take in the Super Bowl, and then get back to work. Sounds like a plan.

Now I don’t have to tell you where your team is at this point of the season. It’s clear you understand the rigors of a season, what teams go through, that it’s how you respond to slumps like these more than figuring out why you’re in a slump, etc. etc. Your calm demeanor is only going to help turn this around.

However, the next chess move is yours. It’s time for the coach, who was hired because of his EXPERIENCE, to be a coach. When we hit the playoffs in April (And we will hit the playoffs in April, nobody is that stupid. Well, actually 80% of the people on Twitter are that stupid, but I doubt that you tweet. ) We need to look back and say, "When Q did X back in February, that’s when this Hawk train got on a roll." So let’s figure out what X is shall we? (I know. When you were in high school studying algebra, you always said to yourself "When the hell am I going to use this shit?" and 40 years later you find yourself solving the Value of X….Dem math teachers huh?)

Psst. I’m writing this next part in Italics because it gives off the impression that I’m whispering. If you’re reading this out loud please lower your voice. Anyway, I don’t think your GM has done you any favors. This team is pretty unbalanced and for all the words the GM threw out- Grit, Sandpaper, Depth, Jam- you know? Words made up to describe people with no talent; the boys aren’t very gritty, Sandpapery, deep or Jammy. You know this. I know this. I also don’t think he’s going to help you going forward. Yes it’s trading season, but Stan is being asked to pull off a trade that he’s never ever made before. And you know in horse racing, you never bet on a horse to do something he’s never done. So let’s just move forward with the idea that whoever is coming via trade is just going to be a different color of something that is already on the roster. Do you think Hall Gill is anything other than Sean O’Donnell? Didn’t think so….

So, back in the day, when the Hawks were going great gangbusters, the first thing anyone noticed or commented on was how good the 3rd line is. Bickell, Bolland and Fro (Oh My!) were hard on the puck, aggressive forecheck, and just a nuisance. I think you need to re-unite them. And whatever tact you feel is necessary- warning them with the threat of a trade (even towards Bolland), praising them, calling them out in public (We’ll touch on this later.) – they need to get back to that level of play. I have much more confidence in that line regaining glory than I do of Mr. Bowman acquiring two road-grating wingers to replace them.

I also think you need to pull Kane and Sharp aside and say "Hey, if we have any shot of anything here, one of you needs to play second line center. And you need to commit to it." First one that says yes gets Hart Trophy candidate Marian Hossa as their right wing. I say Sharp. But you know success in this league is built on center depth. And the most talented 2nd center behind Toews is 10 or 88.

2 scoring lines, a checking line that actually checks and a 4th line of Morrison-Mayers and Shaw, who's still impressive, that actually can provide what a 4th line is supposed to provide- experience, hitting, and two players who we think can win some draws.

And now the real move. You have a bunch of horn playing seals that are covering the beat for the local papers and sub-par cable station in town. They must be a dream for hiding injuries, keeping what’s behind closed doors behind closed doors, and overall controlling the message. However, they provide an opportunity. They will simply type whatever you write and not question it. So put the onus on somebody else. I’m not talking about C.Y.A. I mean set the damn rules. This team is a recess that badly needs a teacher to blow the whistle. So blow it.

" We played our best hockey when Bolland’s line was playing the best hockey. We need that from them now."

" I believe Kane is going to erupt. Just watch."

"We brought in veterans for moments like these…"

You can use the media as stick or carrot. It’s a coaching device that’s just as effective as a bag skate, a line change, or a trip to the press box.

It’s a 30 game sprint, and if I can use one last horse racing term, it’s time to go to the whip.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. (Oh, and I’m writing another lampoon rap song featuring you and Stan…. fair warning.

Let’s go Hawks,

The Ombudsman.

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