Hockey

It Actually Might Be A Little Worse Than You Think

Last night, with their win in Boston, the Kings leapfrogged the Hawks to officially put the West Side Hockey Club in the basement of the Western Conference. The Hawks are one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators. That’s the Ottawa Senators, who had been the laughingstock of the NHL, purposely heading to the depths to try and turn around their future. With the owner who has a scuba tank full of paint so he can continually huff it, and turns it up before meeting the press. The Senators, who don’t have three players you can name right now. They’re right on the Hawks’ ass, in probably the tougher conference

And it’s almost a year to the day the Hawks were last in the basement of the West, which lets you know just about all the progress they’re making. All their moves and bluster and assurance they knew what they were doing and you would see. And not only are they running in place, they’re running place behind everyone.

And here’s the thing, the Kings are actually better than they are and by a decent margin, when you look at what’s really going on. The Kings’ possession numbers are actually some of the best in the league. So are their expected goal numbers. What they can’t get is a save or shots to go in, even with all the decent ones they’re creating and the ones they’re not letting up. They have one of the worst PDOs in the league. They’re a touch unlucky to be where they are, but that’s what happens when you count on Jonathan Quick and their aging snipers.

The Wings and Devils, the only two teams below the Hawks, also have shitty PDOs. But they have shitty goalies and a lack of true scoring talent as well. So that adds up.

Here’s the thing…

THE HAWKS HAVE BOTH OF THOSE.

They have good goalies. They have talented scorers. They’re not unlucky at all to be where they are, which doesn’t make any goddamn sense because if you have good goalies and you have talented scorers you’re supposed to be unlucky if you’re in the bottom of the standings. Something is supposed to have gone off the boil. Something is not aligning.

But now, that’s how bad the Hawks are structurally. Their goalies can make a very good proportion of saves, and their forwards can pot a decent amount of chances…and none of it matters because of the avalanche of shots and chances going against them. You probably realize how fucked up that is, but they certainly don’t.

So any other organization would conclude it’s all not working and would have to start over. We’ve talked and talked incessantly about how a start-over/tear-down just isn’t possible, but I become less and less convinced of that. Let’s see if we can’t get there.

I never ascribed to the theory that a GM gets only one coaching hire before he too has to hit the bricks. Every situation is different, and if it were completely clear that a roster were being completely mangled by an incompetent coach that just totally went off the reservation, well the GM should get to replace that guy. Take the Bulls…well, actually, don’t, because that front office might be even more fucked up. But in a vacuum, the roster isn’t that bad, has some promise, and if there weren’t two morons in there playing the Simpson Men Pot-on-a-head game constantly you could argue they should be allowed to hire a competent coach to see what they have.

But this Hawks roster is obviously not good enough, and it didn’t have to be this bad, so clearly Stan and Kelvin have to go. But what would someone with fresh eyes see here?

The going theory is that with the NMCs all the Hawks stars have, they can’t get out from under all of it. Well, here’s a question: How much longer is Patrick Kane willing to put up with this shit? He’s still playing at a near-MVP level, and he might not have that many years of that performance left. Maybe he feels he’s got all the hardware he could ever need, and he wouldn’t be wrong. But he’s also a sociopathic competitor and this has to kill him to be playing meaningless hockey for a third straight year.

That’s the main domino. The $10.5M cap hit for another three years makes it a tricky move, and the Hawks will have to eat at least some of it if not half, but do we really think that if Kane asks out–or volunteers out as it’s dressed up as some sort of favor to the only team he’s ever known–that no one would call? No one would at least see what they could do? If they only had to pay, say, $7M a year for him? Absolutely no one would think about that?

How many teams could use the kickstart? Nashville? San Jose? You can always convince Vancouver to do something stupid (and isn’t that an image!) If you took some of their bad money back too that came off the books sooner? It’s not impossible.

And really, that’s the only tear down you’re going to get. But if Kane goes, Keith probably does too or simply retires. Toews is here for life because he has way less value at his salary and questionable role in the future. But he’s also probably a good torch-bearer for those who will lead the next rush. And you could finally employ the Seabrook plan we’ve been pushing since last season.

That’s not going to happen, of course. The Hawks plan is one more run with #2, #19, and #88. But how’s that going to happen? We’ve constantly outlined how even with Mitchell signing and being crowbarred into the lineup and maybe Beaudin that the Hawks max out as a wildcard team. They don’t have the room to do anything up front to have the depth they need to be a contender. .

That’s not a plan. Good thing they’ve told us they don’t have a plan, then. It’s time for the Molotov cocktails.

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