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Wing and a prayer

The Blackhawks are aiming to build on the success they had last season. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The Blackhawks are aiming to build on the success they had last season. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Before ye olde mailbag doth commence for another week, a little Ask Adam question-writing tip for the day. Did you know the word “that” is almost always utterly superfluous? Rampant overuse of “that” drives me and THN senior special sections editor Brian Costello absolutely batty.

Here’s a handy method to determine if you really need “that” in a sentence: If you can complete the sentence without the word, you should. And that’s that. Unless you think that I should elaborate further in future mailbags.

Hey Adam, as a lifelong fan of the Blackhawks you can just imagine how long I have waited for the success that we all saw last year. Of course I am hoping the team takes the next step and find themselves winning the Stanley Cup and finally breaking the drought.

With their cap issues and arguably their three top players unsigned past this year there is some concern. I don't see how they dump enough salary to keep all three and I really think they need that core in tact to continue winning. Dumping Brian Campbell or Cristobal Huet would be huge steps, but I don't think any team is willing to take on those contracts. Patrick Sharp is another they probably could move, but I also believe he is a team leader they would miss.

Your thoughts if you were GM of the Hawks for a day?
Rob Stroh, Waterloo, Ont.


Hey Rob,

That’s the problem with being GM for a day – you don’t get to factor in the mid-season injuries and/or clashes with management and/or other unforeseen pressures that often can force management’s hands into making moves regardless of whether they’re ideal.

To put it in a Blackhawks context, what happens if Brent Seabrook or Duncan Keith is sidelined for a couple months? Or what happens if Huet plays as well as he did during his short stint in Washington? The answer: Campbell and Huet wouldn’t look nearly so bad, at least in the short haul.

And what if Kris Versteeg or Dustin Byfuglien struggle this year? Suddenly, they’ll be the guys who “have to go.”

What I’m suggesting, in a head-swaying, Axl Rose kind of way, is a little patience on your behalf. Father Time is going to make the Hawks’ future path a lot more discernable.

Sorry Adam, no question here, just a compliment. I enjoyed reading your Eastern Conference predictions. The fact that you allow your sense of humor to come through, along with the occasional pop-culture reference, makes your contributions to hockey journalism a big positive.

Not that it matters, but I do think Florida will finish higher than 12th (I'd probably slot them somewhere nearer the playoff bubble), because I don't believe the Jay Bouwmeester factor will be as noticeable as most predict. They seem to have a very capable defensive corps...on paper, anyway. But man, how much better would they be if they actually had a No. 1 center?

Anyway, thanks again for the predictions!
Garrett Dyer, Raleigh, N.C.


Garrett,

Many thanks for taking my picks in the spirit they were composed.

Unfortunately – and as per normal in this line of work – not everybody is blessed with your stellar sense of humor. To wit: it seems as if I have been instructed to kiss the collective grits of the entire state of Georgia.

That sort of unhinged tribalism never fails to be good for a giggle, mostly because irate comment-posters don’t understand that not only am I not actively cheering against the Thrashers or any other team, but I’ll take great pleasure if Atlanta or any other team exceeds expectations and provides their fans with a prolonged thrill.

It was the same way for me last year with my bet against the Columbus Blue Jackets making the playoffs. I wrote what I wrote because I believed in it, but it was a hell of a lot of fun watching Ken Hitchcock’s team prove me wrong – and even more fun to travel to Nationwide Arena and share in the joy Jackets fans had during their first NHL post-season experience.

Really, the Bitter Bettys and Boorish Bobs who often comment on THN’s web pages say more about themselves than me. But dealing with people who are sticking up for their team is part of this line of work, so I try not to pay it too much mind.

Oh, and I absolutely think there’s a possibility the Panthers make the playoffs, just as I think the Maple Leafs, Thrashers, Canadiens, Senators, Rangers and Islanders could qualify under certain circumstances. But when you make pre-season NHL predictions, you have no choice but to rank teams in two orders of 15 – and this is the order I prefer.

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Hey Adam, with the Olympics coming up, what do you think the effects of the tournament will have on the stats of players and goalies? And do you see a front-runner for Team Canada’s third goalie slot after Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo?
Alex M., Thornhill, Ont.


Alex,

If NHLers could flip an internal switch and ratchet up the caliber of their play at will, don’t you think every one of them who is in the last year of their contract would set new records?

The fact is, the quality of a player’s performance says nothing about their patriotism. Rather, they need major contributions from themselves and their teammates – and yes, a little dab of good fortune – to rise above the rest of the league.

If you’re asking if their season will be disrupted or hampered by the break, that’s possible, but it didn’t play out that way for anyone in 2006 or 2002.

As for who deserves to be Canadian Olympic Goalie No. 3, think of a netminder who (a) currently wears red for his NHL employers; and (b) carried his team to the Eastern Conference Final last year. If your answer was anybody other than Cam Ward, I crown thee a casual hockey fan.
 
Adam, what are your thoughts on Jim Balsillie buying the Sabres from that tightwad Thomas Golisano and splitting home games between Buffalo and Hamilton? As long as he doesn't move the team from Buffalo and played the majority of the home games here I don't see a problem with the league.

This way Golisano could get the capital he needs to run for Governor (and lose again) which is his only real interest (not the losing), not hockey and certainly not a winning hockey team. After all, we already get a huge number of Canadians as season-ticket holders and Hamilton would at least get a share of their goal of having an NHL team playing in their city.

Not a win-win situation, but an amenable compromise.
Lamar Pesci, Lackawanna, N.Y.

Lamar,

Yours is an interesting proposal. But since I’m a guy who grew up watching Commander Tom and listening to the “Sabre Dance” song, I have a special place in my heart for the Blue and Gold – and I wouldn’t want to rob loyal hockey fans in Buffalo of 20 games a year.

Splitting the Sabres’ time between Hamilton and Western New York is indeed a compromise that theoretically could work. But there are many weaker NHL markets – without anywhere close to the same history of loving the sport that Buffalo has – deserving of being compromised first.

Adam, I had asked this question once before, but perhaps I made it too long. Here's a condensed version: If Rick DiPietro returned to full health and put together a few consistent good years, could the Isles buy out part of his contract to make him more marketable?
Bill Both, Terrace, B.C.


Bill,

You aren’t allowed under CBA rules to buy out a portion of a contract; you can only take the entire kit and caboodle off the books.


But I don’t see how buying him out and taking a cap hit of two-thirds DiPietro’s salary for twice the term makes them a better franchise. They’re already paying that price for Alexei Yashin and the Isles have only a salary cap hit to show for it.

The best way for DiPietro to promote his skills and help the team is for him to return to good health, play, and play well. And if he can’t do that, be thankful for long-term injury salary cap exceptions.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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