SCH Knights of the Round Table Responses
The SCH crew answers your questions
"Do you believe Dale Tallon can repeat his "magic" in Florida the way he did for us? Can he make a mediocre club cup contenders in 4/5 years? And if you do, what do you believe he needs to still accomplish if he hasn’t already?" - WrathOfAchilles
Greg: No, he does not have the rabid fan base or the open purse strings that he had in Chicago. Tallon had to overpay for Brian Campbell and Christobal Huet in the summer of 2008. He needed to make Chicago an attractive destination for future free agents so he had the blessing of Rocky Wirtz to spend what he had to. I don’t think he will ever get that same luxury in south Florida. Tallon has a great eye for talent but he is horrible at the business end of the hockey. His handling of contracts caused the salary cap hell of 2010. The great general managers need to have both the eye for talent and keen business senses. I don’t think Tallon has the business skills to have sustained success.
Cody: Building a contender is as much about luck as it is the competence of the GM. A huge part of the Hawks successful turnaround was that they were able to draft not only the best players of their draft years, but two of the better young superstars in recent memory, a luxury not every rebuilding team has. And keep in mind, a lot of things fell into place for the Hawks to build a Stanley Cup winning team. I don't think you can take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to rebuilding and I think there are many variables at work. So to answer the question, I won't say Tallon can't do it. But will he do it? I would say the odds are against him.
Kristina: Short answer, no I don't think the magic could ever be repeated. Despite the talent he's acquired, he doesn't have the extraordinary talent he was able to get for the Hawks. It was a really special team and time in Blackhawks history. I truly think one would be hard pressed to repeat that magic anywhere. To the second part of the question, of course he can make a mediocre club a contender for a Cup in 4 or 5 years. He knows what needs to be done in order to make a a Cup contender. Tallon has already accomplished a lot with the Panthers in only 2 years. One of his main problems, and its not a new problem for him, is that the Panthers lack a premier goalie.
Spencer: Is it possible? Yes. Do I think it will happen? No. Uncle Dale is going to give it his all down in Florida to show that he can build another successful franchise, the problem is he doesn't have the same pieces. Sure he brought in Campbell, Skill, Versteeg, Kopecky (I miss that guy sometimes, just for the entertainment he brought) But Dale is missing the skill of Kane and the leadership of Toews. In 4 to 5 years, I honestly think pretty much any club can become a contender. I think specifically for the Panthers though they are long way off, currently sitting with the worst record in the league in arguably the worst division in the league, and it's not going to get easier for them next year when the have the Bruins, Red Wings and Canadiens. But hey, anything is possible.
"What is the ONE change that could be made the power-play right now that would have the greatest positive impact on its efficacy?" - ChicagoYoungBloods
Greg: Replace Andrew Shaw on the top line with Bryan Bickell. Shaw has the balls to get in front of the net but lacks the size to cause major havoc. If Bickell can use his big frame in front of the net like Shaw does you should see better results. More shots from the point with traffic in front are always good on the power play. It also comes down to execution; there are still too many times that the Hawks just stand around while on the power play. There has to be more movement from side to side. Once you get the defenders moving their feet, you will create more holes in the defense and will get better scoring chances.
Cody: Switch to an umbrella powerplay setup and simplify things: get lots of shots on goal and look for one-time opportunities. Hawks have enough skill to finish, its just a matter of generating quality opportunities. Hard to do that when the puck doesn't get on net.
Kristina: I hate to sound cliche but it comes down to fundamentals. Missed passes and sticks off the ice are frustrating. They seem to take forever to get pucks on net. No fancy, smancy stuff is necessary. Keep your sticks on the ice, make hard passes and get as many pucks on net as you can. Also we need someone in front of the net on a regular basis. Remember Big Buff an how effective he was there? We need someone back there like now!
Spencer: Movement, it was working at the beginning of the season because they weren't predictable. I think the biggest thing to improve it would be cycling the zone and being able to bring defenders in deep to disrupt to defensive pressure. This will create openings in coverages where the Hawks can either get a shot off or drive to the net and look for the net front presence for an easy tap in. Although, it's tough to do that right now with Hossa and Sharp out, our powerplay is depleted to say the least right now.
"Was Mike Haviland the problem last year?" - Wardrum
Greg: No. Joel Quenneville, to his own admission, let the team lose their defensive focus last season. It’s not rocket science to figure out that the Hawks vast improvement this year starts with the defensive play, not with a new assistant coach. I think Haviland got a raw deal. Nobody complained about him in 2010 did they? A change needed to be made somewhere, and Havi was not one of Q’s guys, so he got the shaft. I think he is a really good coach and deserves a shot at a head coaching gig in the future.
Cody: I'll say yes, sort of. I won't lay all the blame on his shoulders but I'll propose why I think it could have been bigger than people think. This is mostly speculation, but if reports are true and Haviland was really popular with many of the players, I'd be willing to bet there was some sort of fracture between the players and Q, especially during last year's 8-game skid, where players were tuning out Q in favor of Haviland or some variation of that. Maybe Haviland made the coaching staff seem too chummy and Q got rid of him to institute more of a no-nonsense atmosphere. Either way, it creates a toxic environment in the room and I do think that impacted their play last year, when you consider the things that were happening on the systemic level that the coaching staff should have fixed but didn't seem able to.
Kristina: No he wasn't the problem. The Hawks had a ton of them last year and there's no need to rehash last year and its issues. But are we so awesome this year because Haviland is gone? Maybe, but I would never blame the mess of last year on one person. Well maybe Raffi Torres.
Spencer: I think that Haviland was the problem last year in that he wasn't Quenneville's "guy". That seems to be the biggest change from last year to this year is that Quenneville has been given the keys to car and he will either drive it to another cup or off a cliff. When things were going good it was easy to work with someone you didn't necessarily trust, but once the shine from the cup win wore off and the team, especially the powerplay which Havi was in charge of, struggled, it seems it started to strain some parts of the team and staff. I'm not saying it was Haviland's fault because he is generally regarded as one of the best assistant's in the league, but he was here before Quenneville and Kitchen came in, so he was the outsider with the new coaches. I think we will have to wait until the end of the year to judge if he was the "problem" though because it's not like the powerplay is working.
"Is there an alien inhabiting Niklas Hjalmarsson" - Wardrums
Greg: I think it’s all the horse meat he’s been eating at IKEA. In all seriousness, Hjammer has benefited from the acquisition of Johnny Oduya. For whatever reason, Niklas never was able to gel with Nick Leddy. Both players have found their homes on separate pairs since Oduya’s arrival.
Cody: Either that or he got the Devil's numbers from Brian Elliot and sold his soul. I really hope its not the latter...
Kristina: Really? Um.. well I'm going to say no and leave it at that.
Spencer: I think Swedish meatball is more returning to the type of player he will be during his career than an alien possession or mind control.Toftbo had a low of 69 games played last season and only one goal. But this season he is showing that he is a true NHL defenseman with a pretty important role. Plus he was over a point-per-game player during the lockout when he played in Italy.
"It appeared Coach Q was getting a little goofy with the Random Line Generator. Do you expect this to continue? – we all know he likes to tinker." - Wardrums
Greg: For the most part, Q has only had to mess with the lines due to injury. It’s hard to argue about much when you have 51 out of a possible 58 points. I give him a lot of credit for his handling of his team and the ice time. Daniel Carcillo has been a healthy scratch of late, which surprises me considering Q’s affection for him. He benched Brent Seabrook for the first half of the 2nd period Monday night as well. He is sending a message to his team; no matter who you are, if you don’t want to play defense, you won’t find the ice.
Cody: I've never been a fan of in-game line mixing. My theory is when you have guys that have proven they can play well together, let them go out there and figure it out. Of course Q will do it whenever the game isn't going their way but I think this year he should show a bit more patience before he pulls the lever on the Line Generator.
Kristina: Q's random line changing doesn't seem to be too much of an issue just yet, likely because the lines have been working so well this year and there's been no need for too much tinkering. We will see what the rest of the season brings, but I hope there is no need to change things too often. Having Sharp out with an injury is killing me as it is. I don't want lines to be toyed with because of any more injuries. We need to keep this party rolling.
Spencer: Until Sharp comes back and until Bolland can win a faceoff consistently, I think will will have to jumble the lines. He has plenty of options in terms of bodies, both on the Hawks and in Rockford. I think if Q thinks there's a hole somewhere, he'll use any combination to fill it.