In Sunday’s editions of the Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune, Barry Rozner and Steve Rosenbloom argue opposite ends of the same argument: namely, the great goaltender trade deadline debate of 2008-’09. While the Feather has gone on record many times – for those of you who forgot, we say keep both goalies – so, too, have the aforementioned columnists, and to their credit, their opinions haven’t changed much throughout the season.
Mr. Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune argued the following:
But two things tell me they can’t move a goalie. And shouldn’t move a goalie. It’s the single-most important position in team sports — you quarterbacks out there can save it — especially when April becomes May becomes June and Chris Chelios comes here to lug Lord Stanley’s chalice to Wrigley and the Cell. Anyway, Khabibulin is my choice at the most important position, but you don’t know if he’ll stay healthy. You can’t have an unproven guy behind him. What’s more, the longer this injury takes, the more his trade value plummets, as well. Look, the tandem has covered the Hawks’ backside all season and earned them the third-most points in the Western Conference. I’m making sure. I’m keeping both.
Mr. Rozner of the Daily Herald countered with the following this morning:
But now that Cristobal Huet has found his stride, looking like the player who earned his huge Hawks contract with a solid playoff series a year ago in Washington, the Hawks need to move Khabibulin and get assets in return, as soon as Khabibulin is healthy.
(Side note: Rozner also took six paragraphs to rip “fans” and readers, essentially saying they don’t know jack. He’s also still caught up on obtaining a “heavyweight,” and he apparently believes the St. Louis Blues are the ‘Hawks’ big competition this season, saying the ‘Hawks need someone who “won’t be shy when challenged by the Cam Janssens of the world.” Typical Rozner: worried about a team one point ahead of the Western Conference’s worst team when the ‘Hawks have the fourth seed all but locked up. We’ll see how Cam Janssen and the Blues factor into the ‘Hawk season come mid-April, but Rozner’s also likely worried about matching up with Atlanta’s “Little White Russian” line in the Stanley Cup Finals. Moreover, the ‘Hawks were outhit yesterday afternoon in Dallas 51-21 (51-21!) and beat the Stars without a problem. Let’s not worry about Cam Janssen.)
The Feather’s been down this road before. Great goaltending can turn a “young, inexperienced team” into a “Stanley Cup contender” come April, and given Dale Tallon’s recent signing history, he’s well aware of this point. In four seasons as ‘Hawk GM, Tallon has signed two goaltenders to eights years in contracts worth about $50 million, collectively. The point is simple: while I believe the ‘Hawks would be best advised to keep both ‘tenders for the stretch run – and accordingly accept nothing in return for Khabibulin come the offseason – I also believe Tallon will do the same. As stated in this space earlier this week, the luxury of having two great goaltenders come playoff time will far outweigh the benefit associated with the players a Khabibulin deal would likely net the ‘Hawks. He’ll stay put – injury or not.
The irony of this situation is that good goaltending can make roster imperfections go away. The ‘Hawks have played the entire season without a bona fide second line center – or a first line center, depending on where you believe Jonathan Toews is in his development – and they have a chance to go to 20 games over .500 this evening against Minnesota.
No center? Because of goaltending, no problem.
So, not only should Khabibulin stay, he will stay.
The Committed Indian
As previously mentioned in this space, the Fifth Feather will play a role in this evening’s The Committed Indian, sold outside of the UC before the game. Pick one up, and tell them John and Bob sent you.
We’ll see you this evening, and talk at you tomorrow morning.