Just like yesterday, one should hesitate in putting too much into anything right now before we see the entire scope of what the Hawks do this summer. So just know I reserve the right to toss this out in a week, a month, whenever. And the problem for the Hawks is what they seem to be attempting is nearly impossible.
While the Hawks make all the noise the past two summers about seismic changes and alarms going off in the front office, which appear to be nothing more than John McDonough bullying his employees, that doesn’t mean you can force things.
Obviously, the model is how the Red Wings were able to pivot from the Yzerman-Fedorov Era of the late 90’s to the Datsyuk-Zetterberg era of the late 2000s. But as we get farther away from it and our lens scopes out, we can see that it probably just was Ken Holland getting extremely lucky with some later round picks. Because how’s the pivot going from the Dats-Z Era to the Dylan Larkin one? It’s been eight years of irrelevance at least and counting. The Penguins haven’t had to deal with this yet, but you can certainly see it on the horizon for them, especially if Matt Murray never matches what his first two years brought. Once you start winning and taking yourself out of position to draft genuine class, it’s nearly impossible to go get. Victory defeats you, eventually.
So while Stan can boast about maintaining the present and the future, the options for the former were limited. There was one player that would have made the difference in free agency (Tavares) and he never considered the Hawks. Maybe in another town the Hawks would face questions about how they couldn’t even get to the table for the most prized free agent to hit the market in years, (and arguably they landed the last one this coveted in Hossa), but not in this one. It’s an anonymity they clearly relish. There were others who might have helped, but again they didn’t seem to be a consideration at all for Stastny or Bozak, which is curious. It’s only taken a season or two for the Hawks to completely fall off the map for free agents.
If you want to argue they could have put together the same package of flotsam that the Blues did for Ryan O’Reilly, I’ll listen. Because that’s really a big bag of nothing the Blues sent to Buffalo. Tage Thompson my ass.
So there wasn’t much Stan could do to demonstrate “urgency” yesterday. The more I think about it the more the Manning signing makes no sense, and we’ve been over and over Cam Ward. Kunitz is fine, it’s not like anyone was in love with what the Hawks could sport on the fourth line anyway.
I suppose Stan envisions a time, very soon, where this team belongs to DeBrincat, Schmaltz, Jokiharju (and boy that’s a leap right now) and maybe even Boqvist in three seasons. I’ll leave Jokijarju and Boqvist out of this, because we simply don’t know anything right now. But if Schmaltz or Sikura were going to be top line players in the NHL, we’d know by now. Yes, we would. You know one when you see one, and they very well may be top sixers (Schmaltz already is), but as my compadre McClure says every spring, it’s top line talent that gets the parade. Right now, the Hawks sport one genuine world class player still playing at that level (Kane). If everything goes right with Top Cat, you could see him being one. But that’s not enough.
Stan seems to be planning and reserving for a future that either isn’t coming or isn’t going to be what he thinks. And maybe he has little choice. There just isn’t a lot out there. But this team isn’t buttressed for when Keith, Toews, and Kane are simply old (the first two might already be there, Seabrook certainly is) and it hasn’t provided them the support to still make a go of it now while they might still be able to do it from memory. If the Hawks were a hitter, you’d say they’re in between–can’t catch up to the fastball but still ahead of the offspeed pitches.
At the end of the day, no one is going to answer for this, really. They’ll point to their three banners and ask you about how much you enjoyed that, even if it appears more and more those three banners landed on them. They’ll bleat on about changes and yes, maybe Q will lose his job this season. And if things don’t turn around quickly after that, Stan could follow him. But both could leave with their heads held high.
I still have to believe the Hawks have a trade in them to try and make something of this season. That waiting list won’t last forever. Those empty seats will only get more numerous. They can’t roll into that convention unveiling Chris Kunitz.
But then again, they might.