Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Sharks going with Niemi or Nittymaki?

Hawk Talk: Sharks going with Niemi or Nittymaki?

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
7:24 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Day 7

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- One of my favorite movies of all time is Vertigo, which was shot about 50 miles west of here in San Francisco. Vertigo, in true Alfred Hitchcock style, had that wonderful air of mystery throughout the picture.

Here in the Silicon Valley, the only mystery we're trying to solve here is whether or not San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi is going to be the starter when the Sharks host the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night. For those who think it's just a big ol' slam dunk that Niemi will face his former teammates, the ones he celebrated that Stanley Cup victory with back in June, I'm not so sure. The Sharks don't seem to keen on talking history when it comes to the team that swept them from the postseason last year, and going down memory lane doesn't sound too high on coach Todd McLellan's list of interests either. His team is inconsistent, and getting steadiness and victories are his focus right now. So if it just comes down to that, do you go with Niemi, who has had struggles of his own, or Nittymaki who's been steadier?

Quick side note: Answering "who's starting" questions has to be quite a change for McLellan. In past seasons, it was basically all Evgeni Nabokov all the time.

Whatever decision McLellan makes, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Niemi played great out here last postseason. He said he's felt good in recent practices and that he's getting his confidence back. This would certainly be a great bench test. Nittymaki's got the better record and overall stats.

Inside the Sharks' locker room, decisions have already been made. The rest of us will just have to wait until Wednesday morning to end the mystery.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks mailbag: Trade probabilities and playoff chances in 2019-20

jeremy_colliton_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks mailbag: Trade probabilities and playoff chances in 2019-20

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition.

Based off of your conversations with Craig Button, Mark Kelley, Mark Eaton, etc. [on the Hawks Talk Podcast] which draft prospect makes the most sense to take at number 3?

Hey Charlie! Who do you believe the Blackhawks are gonna pick third overall and why?

We're almost a month away from the NHL Draft in Vancouver and the Blackhawks have had more than five weeks to prepare for who they might take at No. 3 overall. The organization held scouting meetings in the first week of May and Blackhawks Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley joined the Hawks Talk Podcast and touched on whether they're leaning a certain direction yet.

"We don't," he said. "Stan [Bowman] and I, we haven't even asked that question of each other. I think we both trust the process."

The Blackhawks have conducted most of their on-ice research at this point. Now it's more about gathering second and third layer information and diving into their personal backgrounds, which they will do at the NHL Scouting Combine from May 27-June 1 in Buffalo when they sit down and interview all the top prospects.

But getting back to the original question(s): If we had to narrow the field right now, 17-year-old standout defenseman Bowen Byram and USA star center and Illinois native Alex Turcotte might be separating themselves as the favorites to be taken at No. 3. Byram is as complete of a defenseman as they come and Turcotte is a potential future first-line two-way center. Both of those players would make sense for different reasons.

Hi Charlie! Could Hawks get a dman and/or top 9 forward through trade from a cap troubled team like Lightning, Pittsburgh instead of potential overpaying a free agent?

There are always pros and cons to everything. In free agency, there's the risk of overpaying and being locked into a long-term contract that could make life challenging in a salary cap world. On the flip side, dipping into the trade market means you have to give up assets. 

The Blackhawks have spent the past three years trying to replenish their farm system because they spent the previous decade using that ammo to go for it all. The only way it makes sense for the Blackhawks to acquire a top-four defenseman or top-six forward is if it's for a player that could impact the team in both the short term and long term, and is on an affordable long-term contract.

That being said, the Blackhawks should absolutely explore what's out there because there's an urgency to get things turned around as soon as possible.

With the signing of Dahlstrom & Koekkoek and the expected signing of Forsling, do you think the Blackhawks make a trade involving a defenseman before the draft? Especially with all the recent hype of Bowen Byram. Seems like there are more expendable dmen than ever right now.

If the Blackhawks believe Byram is the best player available at No. 3, they will take him and "worry" about the logjam of defensemen prospects the next day. Even if they don't draft Byram, it's hard to see a path for their Big Four blue line chips (Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell) to break in around the same time — or with the team, at all — simply because the math doesn't work. There aren't enough roster spots available.

We're of the mindset that the Blackhawks should continue to develop them under their own roof because their value increases as they become more NHL ready and if they're developed properly. If they see a deal that benefits the team now and four-plus years from now, the Blackhawks will pull the trigger on something like that if or whenever it ever crosses their desk. Whether that could come before or after the draft, who knows.

1) Was Toews not invited to play for Team Canada or did he decline? 

2) Can Kane and DeBrincat help USA to Gold this year? 

3) Any chance or rumors of draft day trades? Up or down?

Brandon,

1) Team Canada likely reached out, but Jonathan Toews has accomplished everything there is to internationally so it's completely understandable if he respectfully passed on the opportunity. Two Olympic gold medals, two gold medals at the World Junior Championships, a gold medal at the World Cup and another gold at the IIHF World Championship. He's paid his dues. And at 31 years old, rest and recovery are more important than adding more mileage on his body.

2) This is probably the deepest team USA has fielded. And it started with Patrick Kane committing as captain for the second straight year. They have the center depth (Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, Jack Hughes and Luke Glendening), high-end defensemen (Noah Hanifin, Quinn Hughes, Ryan Suter and Zach Werenski) and firepower on the wing (Alex DeBrincat, Johnny Gaudreau, Kane and James van Riemsdyk) to make a deep run. The biggest question mark is whether or not their goaltending (Thatcher Demko and Cory Schneider) can hold up their end of the bargain. 

3) It's safe to say there is less than a 1 percent chance that the Blackhawks trade up from No. 3. The Devils are trying to re-sign Taylor Hall and trading out of the No. 1 spot and losing out on Jack Hughes would be inexcusable. And the Rangers, who hold the No. 2 pick and are expected to have their hand in some marquee free agents this summer, could speed up their rebuilding process by adding Kaapo Kakko, who's dominating the IIHF World Championship right now.

Trading back, although unlikely, is an interesting possibility and one to consider only if you're fixated on a player and can guarantee that he'll still be on the board a couple picks later. The other part of the equation is finding a team that's hungry enough to both jump up and give up the assets to do it. But we shouldn't spend too much time on this. It would take a lot for the Blackhawks to want to move out of No. 3 in general.

Will the Hawks be a playoff team this year?

The Blackhawks missed the playoffs this season by only six points despite everything that went on: a midseason coaching change, Corey Crawford missing action with another concussion and two eight-game losing streaks. But that may have been more about the top-heavy Western Conference, with the Colorado Avalanche securing the second wildcard spot at 90 points. The bar will likely be heightened next season.

If the Blackhawks want to avoid a three-year playoff drought, things need to change, such as overall possession numbers, team defense and the penalty kill. And if they play their cards right this summer, it can: No. 3 overall pick, financial flexibility they haven't had before with Bowman in charge and a full training camp under head coach Jeremy Colliton to get on the same page.

The Blackhawks also need teams above them to take a step back, which is possible when you factor in the question marks surrounding Nashville and Winnipeg in the Central Division after first-round exits this spring. Every year there are surprises in this category. That's hockey.

Early prediction: Playoff hockey will return to Chicago next season.

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Blues' 'Gloria' is reminiscent of White Sox with 'Don't Stop Believin'' and Blackhawks with 'Chelsea Dagger'

Blues' 'Gloria' is reminiscent of White Sox with 'Don't Stop Believin'' and Blackhawks with 'Chelsea Dagger'

Sports and music have always had a great friendship, as long as you don’t bring up that whole “Disco Demolition Night” on the South Side back in 1979.

The St. Louis Blues are the latest team to adopt a somewhat obscure song, “Gloria,” in hopes of playing it on a loop until the championship parade is over.

The Blues decision to go with Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit sounds eerily similar to how the White Sox landed on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” back in 2005. A handful of players go to a bar, a song from three decades earlier plays with nearly everyone in the establishment singing a long and – bingo - you have your team anthem.

It got me thinking about how the Blackhawks landed on "Chelsea Dagger" and the soundtrack for three Stanley Cup championships?

This relationship did not start in a bar. It actually began at Madison Square Garden, where the Blackhawks opened the 2008-09 season.

John McDonough and Jay Blunk listened to the Rangers “goal song” four times that night and asked team employees if the Blackhawks needed a signature song, too.

The overwhelming response was “yes” and the task to find the Blackhawks jam was on.

The Blackhawks version of American Idol judges were team employees Pete Hassen, Ben Broder and intern Matt Benjamin.  No fancy studio for this trio.  They were driving in Hassen’s car when Benjamin alerted the group to the Fratelli’s song, Chelsea Dagger.

It was met with mixed reviews in the car, but it made the final three tunes they considered, along with a song from Gwen Stefani and Fall Out Boy.

The Blackhawks had been using Joe Satriani’s, “Crowd Chant” as their main goal song, with some specialty tunes for Jonathan Toews ("Johnny B. Goode"), Patrick Kane ("Rock You Like a Hurricane") and Patrick Sharp ("Sharp Dressed Man").

Game operations began working “Chelsea Dagger” into their goal song playlist. The reaction from the United Center faithful was extremely positive. Fans were dancing in the aisles and singing along with the “do, do, do-do…do, do-do” chorus.

By the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chelsea Dagger was the only goal song for the Blackhawks. The tune has harmonized perfectly the past decade with hundreds of thrilling goals and championship runs. All thanks to a former team intern’s, one-hit wonder.

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