The Balcony Is Open
A post-deadline dialog from the twin towers of lunacy.
The only actual move we have to discuss is the acquisition of Chris Campoli. Let me lead off by providing the write up that Peter gave us from Silver Seven Sens when the deal went down:
When the Senators first acquired Chris Campoli, there were some pretty lofty expectations, mostly from his 34-point rookie season and the good start he had in Ottawa. But last season started poorly, and he was scratched once in a while, until he settled in towards the end of the season and in the playoffs--perhaps becoming Ottawa's strongest defenceman in last season's playoffs. This season, although his offence has been lacking, he's likely been one of Ottawa's most consistent defencemen. If given solid powerplay time along with a shooter on the other point, Campoli might be able to produce some offence for you; if not, he can be relied on as a positionally sound, defensively reliable 5-6 defender. Either way, you won't be disappointed in his play, even if he won't likely wow you with any pizazz.
I won't pretend I've watched a ton of Senators hockey this year, my life is sad and silly enough. But on the surface, Campoli is probably a step up or two from Jordan Hendry, so with him in the lineup the Hawks defensive crew is improved from where it was, and that's not a bad thing. Is he what we and the organization envisioned? Probably not. But if he's toned down his reckless tendencies and is happy just being solid in his own zone with a little puck moving ability, I'll be a happy camper. Still, I wonder why no attempt at Mike Commodore was made, as he came at half-price for free. I can only imagine the Hawks were scared off by the two years remaining on his contract.
What I find more interesting is the ultimately failed investigating of acquiring a center. Clearly, to me, this means that Stan is not convinced that Dave Bolland can be a #2 or more likely that Jake Dowell can't be a #3. So center depth might have to be addressed within. While they are lighting the Earth and several other planets on fire, the formation of Daydream Nation and The Shooter is not a long-term solution and makes the Hawks too top heavy. Whether he wants to or not, Sharp is going to have to return to center, probably during the playoffs, as the Hawks just happened to win a Cup with him there. To me, Hossa paired with Toews -- the only center on the Hawks he's shown a true understanding with -- with a newly committed-to-defense Sharp and Kane on the second line spreads the scoring for the Hawks out enough to make them awfully dangerous again, especially if Frolik can start to provide anything.
So Mattias, I ask you what you think of Campoli and what will the failure to land another center will mean for the Hawks?
First off, regarding Campoli, my only experience with him was the lone game with the Senators in town last year and the few games against the Pens in last years playoffs, though admittedly I thought they had somehow reacquired Andrej Meszaros at the time, but no, it was a different greaseball defenseman wearing #14 (that's a forward's number, guys, get with it!), and I saw enough to not have my hockey sensibilities offened. The eye witness reports from SSS certainly tell a different story than the wire's scouting report and the stats do, however. On paper, Campoli is a one-way defenseman who's never had a plus rating in a full season, but Behind The Net shows Campoli with a 1.19 rating this year, which isn't too bad considering how wretched Ottawa's been. Ultimately, however, he'll be playing third pairing minutes and if he plays within himself there shouldn't really be an issue, which is what got Nick Boynton launched. While it does leave the Hawks a bit light in the ass on the back end, even when Barker and Sopel were here, the PK strategy was never to pummel the man in front. I'm willing to give him a look.
As far as the center position goes, as you mentioned, balance and depth is the answer past April even when you have a single line that can torch just about anyone - just ask the 2007 Ottawa Senators. From here on out the solution is going to HAVE to come from within, and it's more than likely the scenario you suggested. Patrick Sharp at some point is going to have to resolve his Ross-and-Rachel relationship with the center position, and get back to doing what made him successful there last year. His recent improved defensive awareness could arguably be attributed to the simple fact that they haven't had to play defense much, and we know that Sharp and Kane bring out each other's worst floating tendencies. It's up to Sharp to become less taken aback by his own goal-scoring brilliance and actually play winning hockey should the situation necessitate putting him back at the pivot. This team won a Cup with Sharp as its second center, and it'll only go far this spring if he can rediscover that form, which will ripple down the lineup and allow Dave Bolland to do what he does best from the 3rd line. There's an old Irish (or is it Vulcan?) saying that states "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", and Sharp would be best served taking that statement to heart.