Questions Are The Answers You Might Need
Yeah, it's an old title I've used before, but it still works.
Now that we all have to pick up the pieces and go home, the organization and fans are left to figure out where they go from here. The Hawks have some questions, but probably not the real gaping, burning ones that you might find in Vancouver, Detroit, or San Jose. Or maybe they do, but I don't think so.
There are some, including some who write this blog, who were holding out hope that Joel Quenneville would be canned in the next day or two. That's not going to happen, and it probably shouldn't. While two first round exits are not acceptable, there's still the shine of 2010 on Q's resume and he's still pretty highly regarded by those above Stan Bowman, though I wouldn't be shocked if Stan would be grateful to see the back of him.
So what do they have to do? Fix the obvious disconnect that exists between these two. Quenneville couldn't wait to shit all over Stan's signings this year, as odd of a fit as some of them may have been, and the one he did seem to like he scratched for the last three playoff games. When Stan robbed him of his first toy in John Scott, he gave him another one in Brandon Bollig. It appeared that Stan was castrating Q, and then stepped back from the brink.
What these two need to do is set out a clear vision of which each wants the roster to be and how they want it to play. Stan needs to lay out why he's making this move or counting on this rookie, and Q needs to lay out if he's cool with that or not. If these two can't be on the same page, which it's obvious they were not this year, then changes are going to have to be made.
For those expecting a big summer splash, I wouldn't hold your breath. I think a lot of holes are going to be filled by kids in the system already. And I don't think that's a bad thing when the cap is almost certainly going to be lowered in the CBA, and there may not be a salary rollback to go with it. As of this moment, I think Brandon Saad is going to have to go out of his way to not be on this roster next year, though some time in Rockford couldn't hurt. Dylan Olsen is another who has a spot on the third pair unless he plays himself out of it in camp or in October.
Brandon Pirri, Phillip Danault, Mark McNeil, and maybe one or two others have outside shots at making the club as well.
Once again, the Hawks have to answer if they have a #2 center on the roster, and why that's not Patrick Sharp. It's hard to think of a team that wins a Cup with a guy as its #2 center, and then just decides he's not that any more. Is it Marcus Kruger? While I was encouraged by a lot of what I saw from Dream Warrior, I can't escape the feeling that he's just short of a #2 center on a genuine contender. Is he your 4th line center next year? That's not the worst idea in the world.
It is not Patrick Kane. How this organization came to the conclusion that Sharp is a winger and Kane is a center is kind of a mystery. It's good to know that he can fill in there when injuries mount, and that's not to be laughed off. But he's too small to be defensively responsible enough to play center full time.
You're also going to hear a lot of people wanting to put Kane on the trade block. Please kick these people in the nuts so hard they come out their nose. I know that's only one half of the population, but I generally find women to be smarter and can't think of any who would be dumb enough to support the idea of moving Kane. If you run across one, replace nuts with ovaries.
The Hawks have a couple forwards they have to figure out what to do with. You probably can't sell any higher on Viktor Stalberg than you can now. But the problem is that to get another player to do what Stals does -- score while playing on every line -- is going to cost you at least three times what Stals makes. Again, no one knows how much cap space anyone's going to have. Same goes for Bryan Bickell. You also have to figure out if Q is going to let Frolik be Frolik or if he's going to start putting his dick in Fro's skull again. Me? I'm leaving Fro on the 3rd line and Andrew Shaw on the 4th, because that's what he is to me.
To the blue line. We know Seabrook, Keith, Leddy, and almost certainly Olsen are in, along with Montador if Q can come of his fucking high horse to use him. Oduya probably played himself out of a re-signing this series, and the Hawks can aim higher. But once again, the Hawks could find themselves turning the second pairing keys over to Leddy who has still yet to prove he's worthy of it. This is where you're going to have to get creative, and that's a discussion for another day but one that almost certainly does not end with something that rhymes with "Fyan Muter". Niklas Hjalmarsson, with Dylan Olsen's hot breath on his neck, should be shopped heavily for whatever you can get for him. This is two years of mostly sub par play, and that's enough. Olsen, at least the hope, will take over Hammer's second pairing role at some point in the near future. So off you go.
In goal, the Hawks appear to have already made their decision. Ray Emery will be brought back, and we know he's not a starter. It would be harsh to give up on Crow after a down sophomore season following a sparkling rookie one. Most likely, Crow will be given a chance to bounce back. There aren't many options elsewhere, unless Josh Harding stands your hair up. Jonathan Bernier can probably be had via trade, but he has nothing on his resume yet to suggest he's a true premier NHL goaltender other than promise. And as we know, the Hawks have the philosophy that if they can shore up their defense, their goalie isn't as vital.
All of these questions will be focused more in-depth in the coming weeks, but that's the starters sheet.