Perhaps the NHL media has read our quarter pole Report Card of Dale Tallon, but Pierre LeBrun of ESPN and Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune wrote columns lauding the General Manager this week. LeBrun recounted Tallon’s best moves, including the acquisitions of Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg – even though he insinuated that Tallon drafted Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith – and Kuc said Tallon could hand out “told you so’s” as Christmas presents. Though it’s unlikely Tallon will slip such gifts in his holiday greeting cards this year, the current situation is in stark contrast to the atmosphere that surrounded the ‘Hawks front office in mid-November when rumors of Tallon’s demise swirled. Negativity derived from the recent Dustin Byfuglien (3 years for $9 million), Brent Sopel (3 years for $7 million) and Cristobal Huet ($22.4 million over 4 years) signings ruled the day, and many thought Tallon would follow Denis Savard as John McDonough and Rocky Wirtz castaways. The bottom line, as I stated it in the referenced Report Card, remains that Dale Tallon has done an admirable job evaluating and keeping young talent, and it is this young talent (Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, etc.) that has lead the Blackhawks to seven straight wins. His follies, i.e. the signings described above, can be easily explained: Byfuglien is still young and his deal was for market value; Brent Sopel rightly received a portion of the credit for the maturation of the blue liners last season; and the goaltending is likely the Blackhawks’ best current asset, though not on purpose. Though I would stop short of likening him to Lou Lamoriello or Ken Holland, Tallon deserves (a) much of the credit for the make-up of this team and (b) an opportunity to sink or swim as Blackhawks’ GM in the future.
Speaking of the Blackhawk GM, two roster decisions must be made soon: namely, whether fourth line winger Adam Burish and defenseman Aaron Johnson return to the line-up on Friday (or sometime shortly thereafter). Joel Quennville recently said inserting the two players – and, necessarily, removing others from the current line-up – represented a “tough decision.” But, Q sang a different tune when Nik Khabibulin returned from injury: “[Khabibulin] had the net when he was hurt, and he didn’t do anything to lose it,” said Quennville, before giving Khabby the start in Edmonton last Tuesday. Q’s statement seems to imply a policy of injured players returning to the line-up – unless they’ve “(something) to lose (their spot).” So, did Burish or Johnson do something to lose their respective spots? I suppose we’ll see on Friday.
And, finally, my explanation for this site’s moderate success? Neither of the authors are married.