Dear 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks,
How’s it going? A little tough to look at direct sunlight, I’d assume. It’s okay. You’re allowed some time to grieve after being eliminated at the hands of
Mike Smith the Phoenix Coyotes. Hell, I spent Monday night drowning myself in a bottle. We’ve been together for 16 years and, after all this time, seeing you go away for summer never gets easier.
I figured I’d take some time to address some of you today. Call it a healing exercise. Maybe it’s a preemptive strike on Festivus, because as the great Frank Costanza once said, “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people. And now, you’re going to hear about it.”
My dear GM, named after the greatest prize in all of hockey, Stanley F. Bowman.
Is ‘F’ your middle initial? I just took a guess that your father, the legendary Scotty Bowman, would have seen your ability early on and given you “Failure” as a middle name. Maybe that’s a little harsh, Stanley. But you have to understand where I’m coming from. Oh, you don’t? Let me explain.
I remember earlier this season I wrote a nice little thing about John Scott being the problem with the Blackhawks. You made one heck of a deal shipping that dead weight off to Broadway for a fifth-round pick. That really was a stroke of genius. I commend you for that. That was the first smart thing you’ve done at the GM post.
But Stanley, why did you have to go thinking you were on some sort of roll? I realize that Scotty knows in order for you to learn, you’re going to have to make your own mistakes, but Johnny Oduya for second- and third-round picks? That was Milbury levels of stupidity. No one may call you out on it in Chicago, but I will.
Johnny Oduya was, quite possibly, the absolute worst defenseman in the entire playoffs. For any team. He had the total defensive stopping power of a turnstile, Stanley. He was your big acquisition and he was a defenseman! Are you seeing a trend here? You’re not? Oh, Patrick Kane must have lent you his blinders that he wore throughout the series when he decided he could do it all himself. So let me break it down for you.
Do you remember your big deal at the 2011 Trade Deadline? The Blackhawks needed a defenseman, so you went out and got Chris Campoli, you sly fox. Quite the move! That deal certainly worked out in the post season, didn’t it?!
Maybe your memory is failing you. Let’s take a quick peek.
(For those with sound off or that didn’t quite catch that, ahem, “Campoli…gives it away. Burrows…scores!”)
It’s almost brilliant, Stan. Your ability to find defensemen who cough up the puck like cats that have been licking their balls for hours on end is impeccable. How you do it, I will never quite know.
While I’m on the subject of defensemen: How did that Brian Campbell for Rostislav Olesz deal work out? You were absolutely lauded for your ability to ship out that deal. A gem, they said! What a pick up Olesz turned out to be for the Rockford Icehogs, who sniffed about as much of the playoffs as those lowly Panthers that he came… oh, wait. Hmph. Seems those Panthers are still alive. And what’s this? Dale Tallon is their GM? Funny how that guy keeps making you look like an idiot, isn’t it?
When I look back on your tenure thus far, it’s almost as if you did less work than Brian Burke did in Anaheim to earn a ring. I guess you’ve got a bit of a failure cushion.
But I digress. It isn’t all your fault, Stan. These things happen. It’s not like you let a calming influence — and maybe the best goaltender this team has seen in years — walk because you had a rock like Corey Crawford behind him, waiting in the wings.
Oh, Mr. Crawford. “Crow”, as they call you. Let’s have a chat, Corey.
I’d throw harsh words at you, maybe call you names and deride your play this post season, but frankly I’m scared that anything I say will bounce off of you onto the stick of a waiting Coyote. We both know if that happens, it’s ending up right in the back of the net. I wouldn’t want to put you through that.
Really, Corey, what I want to do is commend your play. Unlike Kaner, Sharpy, Stalberg, Bolland, and a bunch of the other boys, you were able to score twice. Not only did you pot two, they were overtime winners! You were a real difference maker in this series. It was odd to see you line up with the Blackhawks in the handshake line, though. The Coyotes are really going to miss you in the next round.
It’s not all bad though, Corey! I hear Cristobal Huet is considering looking for a job in Chicago next year. Isn’t it nice to give people hope?
It’s not even just those softies you let in, Corey. It’s really not. It’s that you were just such a mirage. Forget the fact that you and your partner Ray Emery were the only goaltending tandem not to record a shutout all season, forget that you had a GAA and SV% that found you ranked in the 30s amongst goaltender, and forget that your goaltending is stiffer than your interviews. You just made me believe so many things in those seven games against Vancouver last year. You were a hero to us Blackhawks fans.
Speaking of heroes, where’s Patrick Kane today? My best guess would be you can’t find him. His disappearing act this series was almost as good as the powerplays were all season.
Funny how that works, isn’t it? A PP unit with Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Seabrook or Keith, and you’re running along at a 15.2% clip. I don’t mean to embarrass you, but Columbus had a better time with the man advantage than you did. KANE FOR LETESTU, STRAIGHT UP. Make it so, Stanley.
Now, let me get some quick messages out of the way.
To Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Nik Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy: Good work. I was genuinely impressed with the way you played. Especially you, Brent. I don’t know if you’re aware of this because you’ve had your head knocked in so many times it amazes me you can think, but you scored some big goals.
To Sean O’Donnell: You may realize your name is missing from that list. Oh, who am I kidding. You couldn’t pick that out even if I did point it out. If you think about it, it’s a bit like your inability to pick up a man in the defensive zone. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you were trying to skate over to your man, but just couldn’t make it. Lord knows you watch Jason Allison shootout attempts and ask yourself how he skates so quickly.
To Michael Frolik and Brendan Morrison: Where in the world did that come from? You both played like you had been sitting in the press box for about two weeks. Oh, wait. Yep. Now that makes sense.
To Andrew Shaw: Keep wearing 65 when you take Daniel Carcillo’s job next year.
To Viktor Stalberg: Four minors? Four. One, two, three, four. If not for Jonathan Toews, you’d be looking for a home in Sweden next year. You owe him your salary.
Finally, to Coach Q: I don’t know how your ass isn’t on fire from the hot seat right now, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they should fire you. But you’re walking a tight line right now.
Some words of advice for you, Q. Mustache, good look; Angry coach; good look. Having a power play that scores once in six games; bad look. As a matter of fact, your entire special teams were a disaster. I don’t know who’s running what for you right now, but if Kitchen and Haviland are running the PK in any capacity, maybe find room for some guys who will teach your forwards to get down in front of a shot. Crawford blocked more shots in OT than the forwards did on the PK, and that’s saying something.
Really, I say this all out of love. Sometimes you have to be honest with the ones you love, and tell them they’re absolutely abysmal and their performance was about as good as my men’s league team.
I love all of you and want to see you succeed. Let’s try again next year, okay? Let’s try and make each other happy like we once did.
With love and hope,
Jared P. D. Clinton, Lifelong Blackhawks Fan.
P.S. When I say “all of you,” I mean Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. The rest of you disappoint me more than I disappoint my parents.
P.P.S. Rot in Hell, Johnny Oduya.