Blackhawks 5, Oilers 2

With plenty of Hawk fans still demanding answers as to why the front office didn’t improve their goaltending, it looked like a full-on riot was set to take place Wednesday night halfway through the second period.  After facing only one shot 15 minutes into the period, Cristobal Huet allowed two goals on three shots and the Edmonton Oilers were suddenly winning a game they had no business even skating in.  

Alas, this is the Edmonton Oilers and no matter how well their goalie is playing, they’ll make enough mistakes to let you back into the game.  Two minutes after taking the lead, Marian Hossa picked off an errant pass and slipped a pretty pass across the crease where Dave Bolland stood all alone.

In the third period, the Hawks took it out of first gear for the first time all night and left the Oilers in the dust.  Ham Sandwich started the festivities with a slap shot from 60 feet out that found its way past Devin Dubnyk.  Dustin Byfuglien chipped in his second power play goal in as many nights a few minutes later.  To close out the scoring, Jonathan Toews eluded around an Oiler defenseman at the blue line and then ripped a wrist shot through Dubnyk’s legs.  That was that.

Toews and Patrick Kane each have four points in the two games since the Olympic break.

There’s not really a whole bunch to say about the game, in general.  The Oilers blow and the Hawks are infinitely superior to them.  So we might as well get on to the bigger issue of the day.


Ah yes, that whole trade deadline thing.  After acquiring Kim Johnsson and Nick Boynton, most of the moderate lifting was done prior to Wednesday’s deadline for Stan Bowman and company (And really, after seeing some of the names that changed hands, there wasn’t a whole lot of heavy lifting being done, either).  That won’t stop Hawk fans from complaining about their lack of activity, specifically at the goaltending position.

As my partner pointed out in Tuesday’s recap, while the Hawks were certainly exploring any and all options to upgrade the position, the reality of the situation likely prevented any dreams of Tomas Vokoun or Dwayne Roloson dancing through their heads.  With the Hawks up against the cap this year and next year, the only way they could take on salary was finding some team willing to take on Cristobal Huet’s contract.

What about sending him to Rockford for the rest of the year and thus clearing room for Vokoun, you say.  Well, the omnipresent Dave Morris reminds us all about that whole “tagging” issue.  Regardless of where Huet finishes this year, the fact that he’s playing on a one-way contract still puts his cap hit in the 2010-2011 books.  With Vokoun still signed for another year, that would put the Hawks significantly over next year’s cap.  So there’s one option down the drain.

Why couldn’t they just trade him, you bellow.  Plenty of blame to go around on that one.  Most of it should probably fall on Huet’s shoulders as he’s the one the most responsible for his recent poor play but Joel Quenneville certainly deserves some blame in the matter.  When the Hawks swept through Detroit and a home and home with Nashville at the end of December, they essentially locked up the division. 

Instead of just rolling with the punches and living with Huet’s inconsistencies, Quenneville turned one question mark into two.  With Antti Niemi playing well over his head, he decided to let the rookie sink or swim on a team that had a double digit lead in the divisional standings.  Not surprisingly, Niemi sunk like a stone but because he won a few shootouts, he was allowed even more rope. 

So when everything crashed spectacularly against the Islanders, Quenneville basically painted Bowman into a corner he had no way of getting out of.  Save for some team swooping in and taking a goalie with a $5.625 cap hit off his hands.  The same goalie who hadn’t started a game in nearly a month because of his head coach’s desire to get two points against the Atlanta Thrashers in the middle of February.  

So in a couple months from now, if someone keeps insisting to you about how Stan Bowman blew it with his lack of deadline activity, feel free to give them a little refresher course on the inner workings of the NHL salary cap and how keeping the faith in your veteran goalie is more important than making sure you win a game against an inferior Eastern Conference opponent during the dregs of the regular season.  Or you could just roll your eyes and agree with them.

–I also enjoyed how the Nick Boynton acquisition was painted in some corners as a precursor to a bigger deal, specifically the Hawks shipping out Brian Campbell.  Yup, the same guy who barely played his way on to a mediocre Ducks team is here to be the Hawks 3rd defenseman.  In case you forgot over the Olympic break, Brent Sopel is not exactly the model of health.  Oh, and by the way, he was a scratch tonight.  So no, Boynton never was a precursor to a bigger trade.  He was who we thought he was, defensive depth, something the Hawks had very little of per a few weeks ago. 

*On the Farm*

–With three new players on the roster, the IceHogs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win over the Lake Erie Monsters.  Bracken Kearns, Evan Brophey, and Bryan Bickell were the goal scorers.  Kearns also added an assist.  Corey Crawford stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.

Kyle Beach had no points in Spokane’s 3-2 loss but he did have 6 penalty minutes.

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47 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Oilers 2

  1. Nick says:

    Great thoughts tonight, and I sure as hell hope people can start to understand that the hawks goaltending is what it is.

    Personally, I thought a swap for Vokoun was coming, but I guess Randy Sexton was asking too much. Whatever, but all this pining for Dwayne Roy, I mean Roloson, was making me sick and I’m thrilled its over.

    Last thing, the fans tonight were absolutely atrocious. I’m glad Huet was able to recover after the 2nd goal because I thought for sure that the Meatballs on Madison were going to lead him to the guillotine.

  2. Nick says:

    Kane has 5 points in these past 2 games, not 4.

  3. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, thanks for the link to my article on the Hawks’ deadline deals or lack thereof.

    Not sure whether omnipresence is good or bad, but as Stan Bowman might say, “It is what it is.”

    The Vokoun deal, as Scotty Bowman said so clearly in his Radio 590AM Toronto interview yesterday, was never going to happen–for the reasons you cite.

    Right now, Huet appears to have less trade market value than Marty Turco.

    But as a reminder to fans, even so-called ‘washed up’ goalies like Turco, Jose Theodore, Andrew Raycroft, and yes, Chris Osgood, have found ways to be useful to their teams.

    We can only hope Monsieur Huet finds a way to justify his 5.625 million dollar price tag between now and June.

    The worrisome side of the equation is that failure to do so could see–in a worst case scenario–the Hawks have a spectacular collapse.

    That is, unless they manage to keep opposition shots to less than ten per game.

  4. Mike D. says:

    Corey Crawford stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.

    Intrepid Chicago Meatball: START DAT CRAWFERD GUY!

  5. Mike D. says:

    Oops. Didn’t mean to leave the italics tags on the second part.

  6. TIMBO says:

    After listening to probably the greatest coach of all times, Scottie Bowman, and our general manager, Stan, talk about being comfortable with the goalies we have,the situation is what it is, and it will be an early spring for our Chicago Blackhawks. I’m convinced after Tuesday and Wednesday night’s games that neither one of these clowns (our goalies) are even skilled enough to be floor hockey goalies.

  7. Lee says:


    I was there last night and you are so so right. I do not boo but was real tempted to last night as Huet absolutly sucked. Where Nick gets that we were atrocious I would never know. I have said from the beginning that there will be no major playoff victorys or cup victorys with these two guys. Maybe Mike has the right idea with Crawford, he sure cant be worse than Huet. I listened Scotty yesterday and he was probably right about Vokum but Ii was under the impression that we could have brought Roly here cheap and then not resigned him next year so he would not affect the cap. Is that correct?

  8. Lee says:


    Is Commited Indian you?

  9. modnar says:

    oy…head hurts.

    roloson has another year left on his deal. $2.5 million cap hit.

  10. Patrick says:

    Lee – Roly is signed through next year – would have been no cap help there.

    I’ll have to admit, I was excited at the possibility of Vokun, but I would have been bummed had the Hawks seriously overpaid to get him. Needless to say, they didn’t and I’m fine with that. Huet will rebound and Niemi will return to the #2 spot (or 1B, if you will). Stan probably did the right thing as he added depth and I don’t think many teams beat the Hawks in a 7 game series, especially if the team D can get its collective head out of its ass.

    I agree with John in that I think that Q misplayed the goalie situation. Not starting Huet before the Olympics lead me to believe a trade was coming, but since it wasn’t, he had Huet wondering. Hopefully Huet goes into full F-you mode again (he did it earlier this season) and plays a good stretch of games. I expect he’ll get the start against Vancouver, or at least, that’s what I’d do.

    Good win last night – it’s amazing what you can do when ALL of the players show up – oh, and playing the worst team in the league didn’t hurt either. Johnny T and Patty K are going to lead the way!

  11. Lee says:

    Right about one thing for sure, they were the worse team in the league, Oilers were brutal. Stortini trying to get Seabrook to fight, is he nuts?

  12. Dave Morris says:

    Lee> I am not, nor have I ever been ‘Committed Indian’.

    Whether you referring to Sam Fels, the original ‘Committed Indian’, or the young fellow who posts on various Hawk threads as ‘Committed Indians’…I am not them, but just little old me.

    I firmly believe that where feasible, one should back up one’s opinions with one’s own moniker (the gentlemen of the Fifth Feather and other blogs being exempt as they must protect their identities from enemies of the State).

    You may peruse my column, at your leisure, here:

    As for the often hapless Monsieur Huet, nothing personal, but he’s getting paid more than enough to play like a quality starting NHL netminder.

    Should he so choose, the Blackhawks do have a realistic chance of proceeding successfully.

    If not, shall we say the team is in deep doo-doo…unless Hannu Toivonen suddenly bursts on to the scene as an adequate compliment to his fellow Finn.

  13. Otter says:

    Seriously, when did Roloson become Eddie Belfour? I’m convinced that if Huet wasn’t French, people wouldn’t complain about him nearly as much as they do. But he’s French, and we hate the French for reasons I’ve never understood here in the US and thus Huet sucks unless he’s better than Ryan Miller.

    In other news, I agree about how Q misplayed the Niemi stuff. I didn’t see anything out of him that was better than what Huet was doing. I hope this can be put to bed now.

    Finally, all those who think that the Hawks won’t get past the first round… who’s beating them? The Preds? The Flames? Dallas? The Blues? I’ll be nervous against the Ducks, but they aren’t what they were, and once the Hawks go two-oh up on them, the nerves will be gone. The goal is to avoid the Wings for as long as possible. They’re the only team in the West that scares me.

  14. John says:

    The big thing people are forgetting about Roloson is DP is now out indefinitely for the Isle. They’re not going to give him away for nothing and judging by the fact that he didn’t go anywhere leads me to believe their asking price was outrageous.

    With all the facts in front of us, there wasn’t much realistic chance for the Hawks to upgrade their net. As you can see, though, that won’t stop people from demanding blood. Unfortunately, I suspect it will only get worse as the season goes on.

  15. Lou says:

    @John, we may want blood but our play in our own zone needs improvement. I think if that improves that may take away some of the angst we have. We have not played at the level we did earlier in the year and especially at the blue line.

    And remember what hully called fact based people yesterday. Didn’t know they hyphenated the word though. So be careful of presenting facts.

    @Otter, I think Huet would be hated if he wasn’t French too. He lets in some really soft goals. As for the dislike of them, my gut says it goes back to WWII…Hell if I know, I wasn’t born.

  16. John says:

    Yeah Lou, I was talking more about how people are going to turn this on Bowman for not making a move. Already I’ve heard from several corners about how Stan should’ve forced something; made something happen. I thought we broke it down very nicely in the past two days that save for completely ripping down this roster, he really had no other option other than to stand pat in net. That isn’t enough for a lot of people, apparently.

    I thought the Hawks were exemplary in their own end last night. The second goal should’ve never happened as Ham Sandwich had his twig snapped in half. That’s a penalty every time. I mean, at some point, we have to admit to ourselves that the defense is going to make mistakes and the goalie has to make a save. Just as long as the defensive mistakes aren’t egregious, then everything should be hunky dory.

  17. Dave Morris says:

    @Patrick> the idea that a playoff opponent, regardless of who they might be, can’t beat the Blackhawks in a best-of-seven, is a nice thought.

    However, the reality is that the Hawks can get behind 2-0 or 3-0 in a playoff series. And then what?

    Niemi gets a pass because it’s his first season, but Huet’s got no excuses. He’s been given every opportunity to show he can own the starting job, and he’s flubbed them.

    And I sincerely believe fans don’t care if a goalie’s name is Chevrier, Khabibulin or Hackett. They get upset because the Blackhawks don’t have netminding that lives up to the rest of the quality of this team.

    I think we can believe Stan Bowman did his best to find a solution…and in the end, there simply wasn’t one that could be made to work *now*.

    Come June, it’s a different story.

  18. Lee says:

    Dave: you are now in my favorites right along side John. I really hope Otter is just joshing when he says we or I or whom-ever hates Huet because he is French. I am not particulary enamored with the French for a lot of reasons, none of which include the French goaltender. I could not care less if he was from France or Italy(which I love). I just wish he would stop letting soft goals in such as he did again in front of me last night.

  19. John says:

    Dave, don’t forget to lay some blame on Q for this ordeal. 🙂

  20. Lou says:

    @John – I agree and you guys are great

  21. HARRY REASONER says:

    Not only are the French hated for their lack of respect for WWII, but also for not allowing our air force to fly over their air space, exposing our attack on Libyia for more time then a direct flght pattern. Unfortunatly in the attack the French embassy was hit, by mistake of course.

  22. Lee says:

    What the F— does thast have to do with hockey??? Ridiculous

  23. Bob in EP says:

    In the 91-92 season, after a few bad games, The Blue Line described Belfour’s style as “a drunk groping in the gutter for his lost dime.” Just a little perspective.

  24. HARRY REASONER says:

    Lou and otter both gave comments on tne French, I was just expounding on their expressions. I know this is a hockey site, you better send out your enforcer with words like that.

  25. Lee says:

    I need an enforcer, any ideas?

  26. Lou says:

    Lee, you know my opinion on enforcers. So you have to do your own lifting here. Harry Reasoner was just following the trhread.

  27. Lee says:

    I am aware of that but I just dont understand why anyone, Harry or Otter included, would say that we have a dislike for Huet because he is French. I again don’t care what is nationality or religion is, if only he would stop letting in soft goals as he did last night. On top of that he argued on the one goal and I looked at the replay over and over and for the life of me have no idea what he or Q were arguing about. I thought it was a good clean goal. Any comments on the disputed goal?

  28. Lee says:

    It was the thread I had a problem with not Harry

  29. Derek says:

    I’m not making excuses for either goaltender, but people either don’t realize or just like to ignore how hard it is for a goalie to stay sharp when he isn’t seeing much action. If you think about the goals that either Huet or Niemi typically let in, most of them come off a quick rush (often caused by a bad turnover) after the Hawks have been controlling the play for an extended period of time. If you look at the numbers, games in which the Hawks have allowed 30 or more shots (it has only happened 10 times thus far), the goalies have a combined GAA of 1.80 and save percentage of .946. Compare those numbers to games where there are 25 or fewer shots against (39 games so far), where the GAA goes up to 2.46 and the save percentage goes down to .881. Should the goalies be used to seeing so few shots? Yes, they definitely should and they should and need to be better prepared for it, but that doesn’t make it any easier for them. Plus, who knows how Vokoun, or any other goalie would’ve responded to seeing so few shots. Vokoun has only faced 25 or fewer shots 3 times (4 if you want to count the game where he got pulled after giving up 2 goals on 5 shots) this year. That’s not saying I wouldn’t have liked to have found out, but there’s no guarantee that anyone would have been any better than either Huet or Niemi.

  30. John says:

    The dispute was over the fact that the referee waved off the goal and blew the whistle. Then they went back to replay and determined otherwise. Q’s defense was he felt the referee standing behind the crease had the best view and made an adamant ‘no goal’ call. Then he was overturned by his crew who didn’t have as good of a view.

  31. Lee says:

    Thanks John, I guess I missed the Ref waving off the goal. Fact is they went to Toronto and replay, I guess, said good goal

  32. John says:

    Excellent points, Derek. Can’t disagree with any of them.

  33. coach says:

    I would like to add that Martin Brodeur has made a career of seeing limited shots, just an observation. Not trying dimiss Dereks excellant points.

  34. coach says:

    Sorry for the errors, dismiss and excellent.

  35. Patrick says:

    Dave – I hear you, but if the Hawks have 1st or 2nd seed in the West locked up, I don’t see them losing more than one of the first two games on home ice (if at all), so I don’t think we’ll see a 0-2 or 0-3 situation.

    Johnny T won’t let it happen – his will is strong…

  36. Jack says:

    If the Hawks don’t bring the Cup home, it won’t be due to goaltending. Q needs to pick his guy NOW and stick with him for the remainder. I think that it should be Huet. That’s what he’s paid the big bucks for. What the Hawks really need to concern themselves with at this point is gearing up for playoff hockey…that is getting your own zone defence squared away. If they lessen the bad turnovers that they have been involved with the past month or so and play better defensive hockey, they’ll be fine. They need to start hitting and grinding in the corners more as well. And, how many missed chances and posts and open nets have they seen in the last several games. A conservative estimate would be 10-12 easy goals not achieved due to simply missing the net.
    The Blackhawks will be a force in the playoffs. The goaltending is good enough to win the Stanley Cup. It’s up to the boys to man up and do what they need to do to win.

  37. neo says:

    Just to clarify
    If Huet was sent to the minors, it is my understanding that his one-way contract would not be part of the cap. And he wouldn’t be part of the tagging rule which is only based on the active roster. The only thing is that he could not be literally “bought out” since his contract would then be prorated towards the cap.


    Who doesn’t count against the cap?
    During the season: Players assigned to the minors – even if on one-way contracts – do not count (as long as they are not on conditioning assignments or fit the condition of 50.5(d)(i)(B)(5) above[over 35 at start of contract]) as well as players signed to a contract that are in Major Junior hockey or overseas. Players suspended by either the team or the NHL will not count for the duration of the suspension as long as the player is not receiving his salary; however, teams must keep enough payroll space available to be able to accept the player should his suspension end immediately.

    Once Huet was in the minors he would have had to stay there for 2 1/4 years until the contract expired since he couldn’t be brought back without going through 50% waivers. If he was claimed, that 50% does go against the tagging rule/cap.

    So the Hawks would be on the books for 12-14 million for a “minor leaguer”. Since there is no way that that was going to happen, there really wasn’t anyway for the Hawks to make a deal for another goalie without first trading Huet.

  38. John says:

    Neo, obviously if Huet is in Rockford, his salary doesn’t count towards this season’s cap. I’m not sure about the tagging rule only counting towards the active roster though. If Huet is on a one-way deal, it’s my understanding his name technically will still show on the active roster for the remainder of his contract. If that’s not the case, then perhaps it’s because the amount of days he’s spent on this year’s active roster would automatically go into determining next year’s cap hit, when in regards to tagging. That would certainly not put the Hawks in a fortuitous situation. The only way he’s off it is if he’s dealt. As you mentioned, even if he’s bought out, he’s still counting towards the cap. I could be wrong, but I think tagging had more to do with it then just not wanting to pay big-time money for a minor leaguer.

  39. Patrick says:

    Popular topic – is 38 comments a record (actually, 39 now)?

  40. Lee says:

    Best thing to happen to Chicago was Rocky Wirtz as it now seems to have awaken the Bears as it looks like they have already signed a humongous tight end, Julius Peppers is on a private plane with Lovie on his way to Chicago , and Chester Taylor is also on his way here. Nothing in free agency for the Hawks but looks like Da Bears are making up for it

  41. Otter says:

    Best thing to happen to Chicago was the White Sox winning.

  42. neo says:

    Active roster is the 23 members. Then you add anyone suspended, on LTR or a conditioning assignment. Your active roster starts the day before the beginning of the season to the season’s end date.

    Your Top payroll level starts the same for all teams. It can then go down through 50% waivers or contracts of players signed after 35 who are no longer on your active roster.

    I don’t see anything in tagging outside of the active roster and that teams cap.

    This is another link on one-way contracts in the minors…

  43. John says:

    Here ya go, neo. Don’t know if you were around for this:

    This lays out the tagging issue pretty nicely. I think it also makes sense to the current situation. The Hawks cannot exceed the sum of the 2010/2011 roster to expiring contracts of this off-season. The combination of Huet and Vokoun would push them way over the edge which is why tagging is an issue. No matter where Huet is playing.

  44. neo says:

    Directly from the CBA:
    Creation of Payroll Room. Nothing in this Agreement shall
    prohibit a Club from creating Payroll Room by Assignment,
    Waiver, buyout, or as otherwise permitted under this Agreement.

    You wave any contract and if cleared, reassign that player to a minor league team means he is off the Payroll and also the Tagged Payroll. With the exceptions already noted.

    You can’t have both Huet and Vokoun contracts on the active roster at the same time. Not because of tagging but because they would go over the cap. If, however, you waived Huet first, you could then add Vokoun’s contract. And since Huet is no longer on the active roster he isn’t part of tagging for future years.

    Unless you can show something in the CBA to counter that, it really does matter where Huet is playing…

  45. John says:

    I usually leave the CBA stuff around here to Bob as he has a far better understanding of it than anyone I know…Here’s what I see


    From July 1 until and including the last day of Training
    Camp of each League Year, “Averaged Club Salary” for
    each Club for that League Year shall be calculated as the
    sum of the Player Salary and Bonuses for that League Year
    for each and every Player, from the following categories:

    (1) The Averaged Amount of the Player Salary and
    Bonuses for that League Year for each Player under
    a One-Way SPC with the Club
    ; plus


    That was taken from page 201 from the CBA for reference. To me, it appears as though since Huet is on a one-way SPC, his cap hit affects the Averaged club salary for the 2010-2011 season, regardless of where he’s playing or if he’s on the active roster in 2009-2010 and thus throwing the payroll number out of whack.

    By the way, this isn’t just me spouting off about tagging preventing the Hawks for making a move for Vokoun. Reputable news sources are also giving that as the reason for why Huet wasn’t shipped to Rockford and Vokoun brought in.

  46. John says:

    I also realized that Vokoun’s cap hit is about $75,000 larger than Huet’s. With the Hawks already teetering on the edge as is, that could also be a factor in the tagging. Like I said, I’m not the CBA expert around here.

  47. neo says:

    Interesting, really interesting…

    So the salary cap is computed in two ways not just the one way I was describing (see the next section from the one you pointed out). So during the regular season everything I have said so far is true. Huet’s contract is NOT part of the salary cap since he would not be on the active roster.

    However, from seasons end (June 30th) to the end of training camp the salary cap is NOT computed solely from the active roster since there isn’t an active roster at that time. All one way contracts even those who played in the minors would be added. This is the yearly averaged salary of the player computed per day. Also two way contracts from players who played in the NHL the year before would also be added but those would be prorated using a formula. Interesting…

    So yea, Huet’s contract would be part of the salary cap for those 80+ something days but wouldn’t be part of the cap for the rest of the year. But at his salary that would be almost a 1.5 million hit to the cap for each of the next 2 years.

    Again pretty interesting…

    Page 202-203

    From the day following the last day of Training Camp until
    and including June 30 of each League Year, “Averaged
    Club Salary” for each Club shall be calculated as the sum
    of the following amounts:

    (1) The Averaged Amount of the Player Salary and
    Bonuses for that League Year for each Player on the
    Club’s Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non
    Roster and Non Roster; plus …

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