Wednesday, September 07, 2005

 

Detroit's FAs and Introducing Bob Foltman

From a good source(e3), "Zetterburg is very close to signing a deal with the Red Wings. Talks have intesified over the last 24 hours. I feel it will be done by the week-end at the latest. Datsyuk is another story altogether...It appears as though the one year contract with his Russian team may not contain an "out" clause. "

Sportsnet has reported that Omsk is paying Datsyuk 6 Million. I will get more on this as the day progresses..


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Bob Foltman has been at the Chicago Tribune for the last 15 years. He was one of the more passionat reporters during the lockout, and one of the more insightful to read. Bob has a great sense of humor and will surely bring a great perspective (from a great hockey city) to Hockey Blog World....Here is a sample of what is coming...

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Bob Foltman
Chicago Tribune

The general consensus is that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is a boom for the small market teams and the Chicago Blackhawks will certainly vouch for that.

It may seem odd to consider a team playing in the nation's third-largest city a small market, but when one considers what's happened to this franchise in the last decade, the term applies.

Through their own mismanagement, the Hawks have managed to remove themselves almost completely off the sporting landscape in the city, a stunning decline for a good hockey market and an Original Six franchise with a storied history.

But while they have done so much so wrong for so long, the Hawks have managed the pre and post-lockouts as well as, if not better, than nearly everyone else in the league.

There is an adage in sports that the worst thing to be is mediocre. There was a belief among cynical Hawk fans, of which there is no other kind, that mediocrity suited the Hawks just fine. As long as they played well enough to make the playoffs they were happy.

But mediocrity slipped into downright awfulness. At least in the 2003-04 season, there was a plan to the madness. Already mired in the basement of the West and sensing a long stoppage, the Hawks jettisoned nearly every veteran with a sizable contract for draft picks and to clear salary cap space.

It's one thing to have a plan, it's another to execute it and here is where veteran Hawk watchers are still having a hard time grasping what has happened this summer.

They did what they said they would do.

The key move of what has turned into the best summer in this franchise's history was the hiring of Dale Tallon as general manager. There were many who felt that Tallon would be another in a long list of pawns under the thumb of ever-present Sr. Vice-President Bob Pulford.

But those doubts were dispelled about five minutes into Tallon's introductory news conference, when he fired coach Brian Sutter. One has to understand the relationship between Pulford and the Sutter family, particularly former Hawk player and coach Darryl, to understand how important a move that was to signal Tallon is in charge.

With Tallon, new head coach Trent Yawney and Vice-President Peter Wirtz beginning to assert more power, there is a belief among many that this franchise may finally be ready to turn the corner.

Pulford is still around, wandering around at the team's prospects camp this week. An ominous presence to some, perhaps he is waiting for the day when owner Bill Wirtz once again asks him to take over the steering wheel instead of basking in a life of retirement and golf.

The chance of that happening appears to be slim.

Tallon has made his imprint, from speaking the unspeakable (declaring the goal was to win the Stanley Cup) to signing the premier goaltender on the free agent market, he has in three months put the Hawks back at the big boy table in the NHL.

It's not a coincidence that the decline of the Hawks coincided with the decline of the NHL. The league needs its three major media markets to matter. The Hawks haven't mattered for years in Chicago and that hurts the NHL as a whole.

Perhaps that's about to change.

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