Pretty obvious what my answer is going to be on this one. However, let's look at all the possibilities. One thing people forget to mention is that the Hawks were very fortunate in the health department last year. Only Patrick Sharp missed significant time, though Keith and Kane were slowed at times by injuries. They even got 82 games out of Martin Havlat, previously thought to be akin to getting a public health plan in America.
So it would be folly to assume that the Hawks will be so lucky again, considering A) most of the team is coming off by far the longest season of their lives and B) as previously discussed this summer, a good number of them are going to have 6-8 high-intense games tacked on at the Olympics. In fact, the injury bug is already biting, as Hossa is out for the first six weeks at least. But with the load at wings the Hawks have, they can ride that out one would think.
We discussed Huet with our first preview post, and the thought that the Hawks would have to run to Crawford/Niemi/NHL journyman grab bag will keep us up most nights. However, with the expected glut of goals being slammed in at the other end, how good does your goaltending during the regular season have to be? Scum proved last year that your goaltender can be awful during the regular season and win a lot of games, and I think the Hawks could survive a couple weeks without The Marseillase in net. But not too long.
On the blue-line, I actually think the Hawks would suffer more without Campbell than without Keith, and I'll prepare for this blog to light on fire after that statement. While Keith is proba
bly the best all-around d-man on the team (though Seabrook made some huge leaps and bounds on him during the playoffs) the Hawks do not have anyone else who can do what 51 Phantom can do. Keith is just as fast, but not nearly as skilled with the puck, and though Barker might be, he can't penetrate the zone nearly as easily without Soupy's speed. If Campbell were to go down for an extended period of time, you would see the power play suffer greatly, as well as a bunch of mouthbreathers in the 300 Level complaining that for 7 million no one should never get hurt.
But let's face it, we know the answer. On New Years Day 2008, the Hawks were in LA, and looked like they had a real shot at sneaking a playoff spot. Captain Marvel got hurt, was out for a month, and the team collapsed. Sadly, that would happen again if Toews were to miss big stretches. Though our depth down the middle looks good now, it's because everyone's slotted correctly. If Toews weren't around, we'd have to see either Sharp or Versteeg move to center, a role neither is geared for, with #1 minutes probably being distributed to Bolland, for which he is not good enough for, and Madden asked to take on a bigger scoring role, one which he can no longer perform (yet another reason a Marleau trade would work? Discuss amongst yourselves).
Whereas on the wings the Hawks can mix and match and patch things up, losing our best center would be disaster.
-Anyone going down to the Training Camp Festival Sunday, feel free to provide us with a report on the Fanposts, and we'll move it to the front page.
-don't forget to sign up for an online subscription to The Committed Indian, it's the best distraction from work and best toilet reading around. Link on the left. (This has absolutely nothing to do with my car getting towed today and having to pay to get it out. Nothing at all. Stop thinking that. Really. Nothing.)