Zawaski: Looking For Someone To Blame? Look Upstairs

By Jay Zawaski–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Many Chicago Blackhawks fans have spent much of late last night and early this morning looking for someone to blame for last night’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

The obvious choice would be Chris Campoli, who’s turnover to Alex Burrows lead to the winger’s game winning goal, but he made the right play. He tried to go high off the boards, and got a bad bounce.

There were moments throughout the entire series where any defenseman wearing the Indian Head could be blamed. No one played particularly well…so it’s tough to find a specific goat there.

Defense as a whole was a problem this series, and honestly, for much of the season. The penalty kill struggled all season, mainly because the ‘Hawks lacked a physical, hard hitting, stay at home defenseman. When you look at the Blackhawks’ defensive roster, it’s pretty redundant. Aside from Brent Seabrook, their defensemen are small, fast, and agile. Duncan Keith, Campoli, Brian Campbell, Nick Leddy and even Niklas Hjalmarsson are smallish, and play that way.

This is why I’m putting the blame on Stan Bowman. The opportunity was there to add a physical, pounding defenseman at the trade deadline. Instead, the ‘Hawks traded for Campoli. Before I continue, let me say this; I like Campoli. He’s a good player who’s helped the ‘Hawks this season, and will in the future. That said, he didn’t fill the need. He was another of the same type of defenseman.

If the ‘Hawks want to make a real run at the Cup next season, the TOP OFFSEASON PRIORITY is a stay at home, punishing defenseman. Think an Adam Foote type. Some realistic unrestricted free agents are: Montreal’s Hal Gill, Atlanta’s Mark Stuart, Nashville’s Shane O’Brien, and Detroit’s Ruslan Salei. While it’s too early to say any of those guys are on the Blackhawks’ radar at this point, those are the kinds of players they’re looking for: physical, stay at home, and able to play 20+ minutes. A player like that, along with the maturation of existing players and the addition of a few depth forwards, and the ‘Hawks will be right back where they were in 2009 and 2010.

Who do you think is to blame? Post your comments below.

More from Jay Zawaski
  • Alan

    Hunter Hardin. That guy is the worst.

  • big time sucker

    sounds good mr. the kid!!!

  • Billy Corman

    And Connelly, Vishnevskiy and Lalonde are all smallish offensive puck-moving Dmen in the system as prospects. The only Dman with size is Olsen and he didn’t get the playoff call-up.

  • Jake from da burbs

    I agree so much. The mistake was made at the trade deadline. We needed more muscle and this series was an exhibition that you can just pound the Hawks physically with no fear or retribution. I understand this team plays a fast, agile, high skill, smooth skating style but they need some “big ugllies.” The Hawks didn’t get any sort of consistent pressure on the net because we were being pushed around a lot.

    Our defense was pretty bad last night and if not for Crawford, we would have probably lost 4-0. I thought Seabrook played the worst. He made several careless, lazy plays and played timid overall. Campbell played his usual useless minutes. Campbell’s salary continues to be the thorn in our side that will cripple the Hawks from adding talent through free agency. At this point, we have to hope our rookies and some of our new trade pieces can grow and mature.

    For blame overall this season, it goes to two guys: Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Their inconsistency the entire season doomed the Bhawks season. Hossa also needs to have a more dominant impact on the game. I’m excited about Frolik, Smith, Leddy and definitely Crawford but we need to get healthy and get at least another strong defenseman and another forward. Time to lock up Crawford for a few years and Turco can go bye bye.

    This offseason will be an important offseason for Stan Bowman. We’ll finally see a little bit more of his imprint on this team. It will also important to see if this team can get back that hunger and fire to be championship caliber.

    • Ben at the Phoenix Club

      I bet Seebz wan’t supposed to be on that ice. Look how long it took to get bolland back. Crosby still isn’t playing out east or has just started. If he really suffered a concussion I bet he was still dazed and confused b/c he really played like it last night…

  • JoeMan

    Mart Stuart signed an extension with Atlanta.

  • Sophist

    It would be great, Jay, if you could break down the salary cap issues the Hawks face this summer in a thorough and conclusive way. Everybody thinks they know what’s going on, but like all things hockey, there’s a dozen different views.

    Can the Blackhawks fit a big d-man who costs in the $5 million range or would they have to give up some big salary to do so? Do they have room for a d-man AND another top-6 forward?

    • Billy Corman

      Lots of information here:

    • mac

      alex tanguay (69 points) is a UFA on a dying calgary franchise for the same price as nik hjalmarsonn

  • Fat Ass Vince Vaughn

    You guys blaming Stan Bowman really don’t get it. It’s not his fault that Dale Tallon was too stupid to sign qualifying offers to your RFA’s. That’s why you had such huge salary cap issues last summer.

    Ironic that the maker of what should have been a hockey dynasty was also the destroyer. I guess you can blame your greedy players as well.

    • Denver Deadite

      On the whole, I agree.

      Bowman did what he could, and it’s a mistake to assume that there was somebody to trade for that wouldn’t have in turn cost the Blackhawks in other ways.

      In truth, I’m not really blaming anybody. This team was on the verge of being swept, and battled back. They never gave up, even though they struggled all year long.

      It’s a far cry from another Cup, but this team should be there again next year. And with some actual financial flexibility back in place, there’s no reason why they cannot compete for several years to come.

  • meesohawnee

    Junior has all to blame. You cant trade all your toughness. Your skill players cant be skilled if they are getting pounded or are afraid to. This one is simple. JZ hit it right on the head.

  • Ben at the Phoenix Club

    All this garbage about hard hitting defenseman blah blah blah. Can anyone explain to me then why the hawks were able to do it in games 4-5-6? You act like we got out pounded the entire series. Even though game 6 was a tight game the checking numbers were comparable. Games 4 and 5 we hit them consitently.

    We went away from aggressive forechecking in game 7. What the hell for?!?! That is exactly what we did in games 4 and 5, and not quite as much in 6. Furthermore that’s what they did in the first 3 games and in 7. By applying such pressure on the defense you create stupid turnovers. I give you examples goals 1 and 2 for the hawks in game 6. Both were caused by aggressive forechecking causing turnovers. There was none of that in game 7. There was also no finishing checks in game 7. Just b/c you’re not a big guy doesn’t mean you can’t finish a check or put pressure on the other teams D. Look at Bolland in game 6 with that big hit. Also, finishing checks and getting physical creates energy and excitement, or on the road can take some out of the crowd. Last night the canucks just tee’d off on the hawks and the crowd lapped it up.

    You don’t trade for these sorts of things. Players have to be willing to just do it. I can honestly say, for the first time this entire season, we missed Bickell being in the lineup. He’s a big physical force that was perfect for his role. Having a physical presence(bickel), a decently talented player(frolik), centered by bolland seems to have worked wonders for us. I reference last year with brower, bolland, and ladd. That was a very good line for us. I was wholly surprised that brower didn’t have the same impact he had last year on that line, but oh well.

    We got outplayed by a better team. Next year we will be better as these young guys will get hungry having had that first taste of the playoffs. Just like we did in 08-09 when we got to the conference finals and got hungry and got it all. The core is still there and will still be there and or depth will get better with expected growth from some very promising young players.

  • tyler reyer

    i blame who ever got red of dustin of the off season we needed someone in front of the net like last season louagal had trouble with dustin last year this he was able to see the puck and noone in his way to rediract it

  • don

    you are insane. the fact that they could win 3 games against one of the best teams in the league shows that it was no failure

  • paeder1

    the passing was sloppy, they seemed slow, defense was bad as well as the offence,Crawford was great,maybe Vancover wanted it more


    There is a lot of truth to all of this. Seabrook, probably, would not have played if this wasn’t the playoffs.
    One of the biggest problems with game 7 was Kane’s was skating with the new and/ or small guys (was Cambpell on that line?) And, I know there was a lot of exposed net, but the Sedin twins got nothing all night. Vancouver was taking a chance that their relentless defense wasn’t going to be breached, and, then they’d figure out how to score.
    Sure, in the regular season, they could have done more to get a better seed. I think, they actually had a winning record against the Kings.
    Bowman will have flexibility this time around.
    I thought Cambpell did all right in the series.

  • cerney

    Nailed it

  • Matt

    Please tell me why you would blame Stan Bowman. Look at the facts they had 9 guys who made fewer than 1 million in salary, where is this extra cap space you speak of to go after a significant bruiser defensemen? Another thing you’re failing to grasp is that because so many teams had a chance in the west to conceivably make a run at the playoffs, less teams were likely to give away prized pieces for future considerations or draft picks. Coupled with being the defending Stanley Cup champion, teams aren’t going to do you any favor and in fact your squad is more likely to be in the dark when it comes to any possible trade partners because they don’t want your team in the playoff mix knowing that your team has been there before and you have the tools to get there again.

    Don’t be greedy, the roster if you include Campoli who is a RFA has three lines of solid defence. Are you planning on playing 7 defensemen? What Stan did by bringing up Leddy is speed up his development. Remember Leddy was still in college last year and a freshman at that. Under the coaching and training of the Hawks he will do nothing but improve. Stan’s only real options are to decide if guys in Rockford like Kyle Beach are ready to play in the NHL because unless you think impact players are going to take a significant paycut in free agency he’s stuck with the hand that was dealt to him by Tallon and the restricting NHL salary cap.

    • mac

      last year, when we won, the defense was the same, except we had hendry and sopel instead of campoli and leddy. Neither of the first two were bruisers. I think our defense is better off now if everyone plays well (keith specifically). We’d be better off getting a skilled power forward to play in our top six, whoever skilled we can afford. Someone like byfuglien, or neal.

  • CH

    You guys can blame Tallon all you want but the one who needs to be blamed the most is STAN BOWMAN. I understand why he had to make those trades because of cap issues but the truth is. STAN BOWMAN has no hands on hockey experience and he only has his job because of his daddy. This guy will continue to sink the team honestly I’d feel more comfortable with Olcyzk as a GM look at the GM/s that have come and gone what did they all have in common that Bowman doesn’t have? actual hands on hockey experience. STAN BOWMAN has to go

  • CCC

    Fire Stan Bowman

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live