The Chicago Blackhawks’ free agency period has included a lot of talk but no real action so far.
In fact, the little action the ‘Hawks have taken has been so subtle I almost didn’t even notice.
I have a sense, though, that my somewhat negative feelings over the ‘Hawks’ free agency inactivity is, at times, because I’ve been sucked into the rumor nonsense that almost always accompanies the off-season.
There was genuine excitement over the possibility of of the ‘Hawks landing forward Zach Parise. It didn’t happen. Instead, Parise went to Minnesota with defenseman Ryan Suter. GM Stan Bowman said he made an “impressive offer” to Parise, and I believe him. Parise wanted to play near home. There’s nothing any team can do about that.
Fans weren’t content with an honest loss, though.
There was the signing of defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, but most ‘Hawk fans, myself included, have long forgotten or have stopped caring about this.
The fan chirping increased when it was rumored the ‘Hawks were in the hunt for goaltender Martin Brodeur. Once again, that didn’t work. Brodeur, as expected, resigned with the New Jersey Devils.
There was then a haze of disappointment hovering over many of the Blackhawk forums and Twitter hashtag.
There is this very high level of discomfort about incumbent goaltender Corey Crawford, which I kind of understand but definitely don’t agree with. No one is denying Crawford had a “sophomore slump,” but cut the kid some slack. It was only his second full year in the NHL. I am sorry he hasn’t single handedly won you a Stanley Cup yet.
The nonsense really hit its pinnacle when goaltender Roberto Luongo said he was willing to play for the Blackhawks, and ‘Hawk fans warmed up to the idea of cheering for a man whom they’ve long made fun of that used to play on a team they absolutely can’t stand.
Luongo actually playing for Chicago is still a long-shot, but are ‘Hawk fans really that insecure about Crawford they’re willing to jump on any rumor, no matter how ridiculous?
Honestly, I think the disappointment of the 2009-10 Stanley Cup team not turning into an annual contender, with the two first-round exits the past two years, has really rubbed some of the fan base the wrong way. Some of the fans’ heads are still stuck in the clouds, and they’ve yet to take bite into reality.
The team was radically changed after the Stanley Cup season because of the salary cap limit. I was sad it had to happen, and I am sure most fans were too. Sure, there were a lot of problems with the ‘Hawks last two seasons, and Bowman and management aren’t completely immune (nor should they) from criticism, but the slow progress is the price you have to pay when a team decides to “rebuild” from within.
Bowman has never stepped away from his plan of rebuilding this team from within by drafting and focusing on developing prospects. You may not agree with that approach, but the Blackhawks are almost always ranked highly among teams with the best prospects.
Instead of jumping on Bowman and management for not being overly aggressive, let’s be a little patient and watch how well Bowman balances the stars with the young for the next year or two.