Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Chicago Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Eighteen games remain in the NHL regular season and the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t to expect superstar winger Patrick Kane for any of them after he was placed on long term injured reserve with an injured shoulder.
What did that mean? With a trade deadline marked at the end of February it meant there were moves to make and the Hawks sought them out and pulled the trigger three times with no problem behind the steady hand of general manager Stan Bowman.
The first trade came on February 27, when the Hawks acquired defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers for a second round pick and a fourth round pick. Timonen played on the top defensive pairing while with the Flyers, facing down the opposition’s top scoring lines.
Underlying his experience as a top-line defender, Timonen brings strength and toughness which will help the Hawks in regards to their depth as he’ll be in action for Chicago’s second and third defensive pairings, which have dealt recently with struggles from the recently injured Johnny Oduya as well as Michal Rozsival and injured rookie Trevor Van Riemsdyk.
Timonen, who now is expected to play out his final NHL games as a Hawk, has played in 1,092 career games and scored 117 goals along with 454 assists. Timonen counting down his final days as a pro hockey player may be disconcerting to some but I feel it will keep the veteran focused and intent on playing at his best in his search for his first Stanley Cup.
Occurring on February 28th, trade No. 2 saw the Hawks acquire forward Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes, sending back defenseman Klas Dahlback and a 2015 1st round pick.
Vermette appears to be the answer that the Hawks have been looking for at second line center. The team has seen struggles in the faceoff department outside of Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger, in Vermette Chicago gets experience with faceoff wins and his numbers stand near the top of the list in the NHL.
Faceoff Wins Percentage (As of Monday)
1) Manny Malholtra (Montreal) — 59.9
2) Patrice Bergeron (Boston) — 59.8
3) Joe Thornton (San Jose) — 58.1
7) Jonathan Toews (HAWKS) — 56.2
8) Antoine Vermette (Arizona/HAWKS) — 56.0
Vermette has played in 815 career games, scoring 194 goals along with 236 assists and a career 55.9 faceoff wins percentage, for this season Vermette has netted home 13 goals along with his tallying 22 assists. Expect Vermette to contribute offensively alongside Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa.
Finally, the Hawks are built strongly down the middle at center on all four lines with Toews, Vermette, Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger, which gives the Hawks a greater chances to win faceoffs throughout entire games and control the puck, especially coming out of their own zone.
The final trade occurred on deadline day, March 2nd, when forward Andrew Desjardins was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Ben Smith and a 2017 second round pick.
Desjardins brings toughness and stability to the fourth line, which gives the Hawks extra muscle along with Daniel Carcillo, Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Desjardins has played in 56 games this season, scoring only five goals and three assists.
Defense, NOT OFFENSE, is what Desjardins was brought to the Hawks for and with a potential match-up with division rival St. Louis that can occur in the playoffs, expect the Hawks to try and match the physicality of their opponents while trying to balance their scoring attack, i.e. the Los Angeles Kings from last year’s playoffs.
On Patrick Sharp
After consuming the news of recent rumors surrounding Hawks star Patrick Sharp — that of the star allegedly sleeping around with other player’s wives or girlfriends — at first as a fan, I was pretty upset.
After calming down, my next thought was that rumors of this kind and transgressions of this sort circulate behind locker room doors more often than the general public knows.
I’m under the belief that whatever an athlete is doing behind closed doors should stay there, but in this world of social media and 24/7 sports news cycles athletes do not have that luxury anymore.
So much of any athlete’s lives are spent in front of a camera, let anything salacious get attached to them and a potentially national melodrama can play out no matter how many people across America can draw them out of a police lineup or not.
Whether if the rumors of Sharp are true or not, athletes must be very careful because we the public have put these athletes on such a high pedestal where they can’t do no wrong, until they do.
When an athlete does something wrong, we automatically throw them under the bus and often times, depending on the transgression, do not offer any type of recovery from their mistakes.
People must remember: athletes, politicians, entertainers and all sorts of public figures are normal people just like you and I, they don’t run cold and when their business is sprayed out on the street they can really go only one of two ways.
Rumors like this can destroy an athlete/team and render them unreliable for a considerable amount of time, but such inconveniences can also be a rallying cry if they’re not true and the talked-about athlete holds a moral strength.
For Sharp, with his recent struggles, the only way to really put his recent travails behind him for the long run is to perform consistently at a high level and help lead the Hawks to another Stanley Cup.
In sports, winning is the greatest deodorant. Does it completely cover the stank of interpersonal locker room problems? No. But it’s a great distraction and it can even put things into proper perspective, which is always the perspective belonging on the field of play.
Barring any more developments and any admissions of foul private acts, the focus for Sharp and the Hawks should be solely on the ice and whatever or whoever Sharp wants to get into should stay behind closed doors.
Goals — Patrick Kane (27); Assists — Kane (37); Points — Kane (64); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (1.89); Penalty Minutes — Daniel Carcillo (49).
Goals Per Game: 2.8 (13th in NHL)
Goals Allowed: 2.3 (2nd in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 18.1 (17th in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 85.9 (3rd in NHL)
The Road Ahead
Friday vs. Edmonton Oilers — 7:30 p.m.
Sunday vs. N.Y. Rangers — 6:30 p.m.
3/12 at Arizona Coyotes — 9 p.m.
3/14 at San Jose Sharks — 3 p.m.
*All Times Central
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