For The Blackhawks this July Must be Different than Last July - FOX 32 News Chicago

For The Blackhawks this July Must be Different than Last July

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Blackhawks fans have had contrary opinions as to why their favorite team didn't do as well as many anticipated. Some thought head coach Joel Quenneville was the root of the problem and others believed mistakes from GM Stan Bowman led to failed expectation. What can be assumed is both could have done a lot better.

As we approach July 1, this is the time when rosters are shaped and important pieces are added. There were too many misguided signings last summer and it resulted in a club which put forth a scattered effort. It was not only a lack consistency from game to game but also period to period.

Players, coaches and the front office all appeared to be on different pages and eventually the word dysfunctional was used to describe the Blackhawk franchise. The dysfunctional label, meaning not being able to function effectively, is not used to describe a true Stanley Cup contender.

At this point, what matters most is effective hockey can be played come October. This means, the Hawks are not only marketed as a Stanley Cup contender but on ice performance indicates the same. For that to happen some additions must be made and now is the time for GM Bowman to shape his roster.

What is somewhat perplexing, but not surprising, is Bowman and Quenneville have made recent similar comments. Both like their team and have led fans to believe only some tweaks are needed. That could be true, but first a definition of tweaks would be required.

The overriding theme from Coach Q. and Bowman is more has to be expected from current players. That's troubling on different levels.

If Quenneville couldn't motivate and was unable to get his message across last season, can we expect the new campaign to be much different?

My answer is most likely not, but players will appear like effort is lacking if they all aren't on the same page. That also can be described as dysfunctional. It was difficult to tell what style of play the Hawks were attempting. Trying to outscore opponents and hoping for the power play to catch fire is not considered a style of play. None of that bodes well for a head coach but at some point the correct mix of players is essential.

Bowman signed players last summer who appeared miscast.

In the past Steve Montador was never thought of as being a Brian Campbell like puck rusher. In Chicago Montador appeared pushed to go beyond his comfort zone.

Daniel Carcillo can add a missing element but has to change. Carcillo will only be effective if he learns to not cross the lines and NHL officials give him a fair chance. Carcillo deserves his reputation and has only himself to blame, but he gets whistled for many infractions others wouldn't. Hawk management underestimated how that might affect his play. Carcillo will get another chance this season, at least for awhile.

Jamal Mayers serves a purpose but these days his playing time should be at the wing position not at center. There were reasons why Mayers never saw power play time in his long career until last year. There is no reason he should be considered as a power play participant here. Mayers ran out of gas late in the season and that's when his experience is most needed.

Sean O'Donnell had little to offer.

Sami Lepisto never got a chance to offer much.

Andrew Brunette did his best work standing still as his hands are still great. Unfortunately this team needs players who can retrieve the puck as well as hold on to it.

The reason to rehash Bowman's signings from last summer is to point out the same script can't happen again. Acquiring players that have had a defined role in the past and will be utilized in the same way here is a must. If not, it will be almost possible to implement a consistent, effective style of play.

You can't win a Stanley Cup in July, but now is when a team can severely hamper their chances.

Al's Shots

There are no specific Blackhawk rumors to pass on except what has been discussed. My thinking is the same, there is better than a 50% chance Bowman will do something most feel is significant.

Niklas Hjalmarsson trade chatter is still strong. If the Hawks add to the blueline in a big way, Hammer is probably gone.

We will find out soon if Bowman will be able to trade with other GM's who haven't been former Blackhawk employees. If so Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary could be possible dance partners.

The Flames Jay Bouwmeester could be available. Jay Bo is expensive and hasn't had the success most thought he would after getting a big contract in Calgary. Bouwmeester is signed for two more years and is a $6.68 million cap hit. The former third overall draft pick brings size and can skate.

Ryan Suter is probably going to command close to a $70 million, 8-10 year commitment. I'm not sure the Hawks can match other offers dollar for dollar and it probably doesn't matter.

My view is Suter will make his decision heavily weighted on where he wants to live and raise his family. That's why Minnesota could be a more comfortable place for Suter, if he chooses to leave Nashville. I think the Hawks will be in the mix, and Suter resigning in Nashville is probably the least likely option.

A player, who could help the Hawks play a more north-south game and become tougher, is Brandon Prust.

Prust is looking for a big raise from last season's $800,000 salary, and the Rangers have said it is unlikely he will return. Prust led the league along with Shawn Thornton with 20 fights last season.

The reason to sign Prust is not because he can fight but he would be a legitimate heavyweight. Prust is a reliable player that does a great job on the penalty kill and can forecheck. If Bowman could sign Prust he would be the best fourth line player here. His role may be able to expand, but if not he still fills a need, actually more than one.

Two players mentioned here as Hawk possibilities, Sam Gagner and Evander Kane still have not signed contract extensions.

Somehow Bowman needs to find a center that can win faceoffs.

The Bobby Ryan sweepstakes may end up with the Flyers acquiring the big winger. My latest whispers have indicated there are ties between Ryan's father and Bobby Clarke which could help lead the way for the Flyers to snag Ryan.

In Chicago, and around the NHL the next few days will be very interesting. Near July 1 things can quickly change, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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