Our Chicago Blackhawks roundtable returns this week in the midst of the final annual Circus Trip
It’s that time of the week again, Chicago Blackhawks fans. Our weekly roundtable hits on another two questions relating to the Blackhawks, and these are two relatively timely ones.
Here are the questions:
Article continues below ...
— Which remaining team on the Circus Trip (Edmonton, San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles) is the biggest threat to the Blackhawks, and why?
— Who would you like to see as the next participant in the One More Shift program, and why?
The Circus Trip is three games old, with the Blackhawks taking two of their first three tries across Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. The Ducks, Oilers and Kings all carry 21 points right now, and the Sharks have 19.
Meanwhile, the One More Shift program started recently to honor former Blackhawks with one last skate around the ice. Forward Denis Savard was the first recipient of this honor, as he skated with the active Blackhawks prior to the Nov. 13 game against Montreal.
So, what did our cache of Blackhawk Up writers have to say this week? Let’s take a look.
Jun 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks announcer Ed Olczyk during the 2013 Stanley Cup championship celebration at Grant Park in Chicago. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Question 1: I think the obvious answer is Edmonton. With the California teams struggling to get going this season, the Oilers are proving to be a very formidable team in the West. Connor McDavid leads the team in nearly every offensive category, so it’s safe to say that Edmonton will pose the biggest threat to Chicago.
Question 2: The next Blackhawks legend to get “One More Shift” should be Eddie Olczyk. The hometown boy along with Pat Foley is the voice of the Chicago Blackhawks, and with Hall of Fame honors and a very strong career, the Chicago native deserves another shift.
Until last season, Edzo was tied with Phil Kessel for longest point streak by an American-born player (18 games). I say he should be given the next opportunity.
Question 1: The ‘Hawks have had playoff history with all of these teams except for Edmonton. It seems like the Oil Change is finally getting it together.
This team is fast, it wants an up-tempo-style game and it can score at will. Connor McDavid and the Oilers will definitely play up to their competition when Chicago comes to town.
Question 2: I would like to see Jeremy Roenick suit up one more time for the ‘Hawks. He spent a lot of time in Chicago and was so emotional when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. It would be great to see him sporting the Indian Head once again.
Nov 15, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) celebrates with center Ryan Getzlaf (15) after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Question 1: I think the Anaheim Ducks pose the biggest threat. Of the remaining teams, Anaheim is tied for the highest spot in the Pacific Division standings, at 9-7-3 for 21 points. And let’s not forget these two teams matched up in the 2015 Western Conference finals.
The series went seven games, and it was a long and grueling series. The ’Hawks were lucky to come out on top, and the series featured three overtime games, including the famous triple-OT in Game 2.
The Ducks still have bruisers like Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Kevin Bieksa on their team. The rivalry is most certainly still there, and it should be a very physical game. It could prove to be a tough matchup for the ’Hawks.
Question 2: It would be nice to see Jack O’Callahan as the next participant in “One More Shift.” O’Callahan was a member of the famous 1979-80 U.S. Olympic team that beat the Russians in the “Miracle on Ice” game. He also enjoyed the majority of his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks, as a puck-moving and physical defenseman.
O’Callahan currently lives and runs a business in the Chicagoland area. He is an integral part of the Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association, and it would be nice to see him honored.
Question 1: I’m going with the Edmonton Oilers here. While the Ducks are still the bruiser team we know and hate, the Sharks are an odd-but-effective mix of veterans and youth, and the Kings are … strangely identity-less to start the season, Edmonton seems to have a plan.
Executing said plan over the course of 82 games is a different story. But the Blackhawks don’t face the Oilers every game. So, Edmonton’s plan of flying up and down the ice and just trying to exhaust the opponent can certainly work from a game-to-game scenario.
The Blackhawks would’ve really struggled with this type of opposition last season, but they added some speed in the offseason, and the extra rest acquired after a short playoff run also woke some tired legs. That said, Edmonton’s speed is still going to be tough to contend with, and forwards like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are a constant threat.
Question 2: I’m not even sure if this is possible at this point in time, but I’d really like for Stan Mikita to be the next “One More Shift” honoree.
Mikita, a career Blackhawk from 1958 to 1980, set the standard for excellence in a time when the Blackhawks’ championship aspirations went cold (at least he was around for the 1961 Cup). He posted 1,467 regular-season points and 150 postseason points while being a constant contender for/winner of the Byng, Hart and Art Ross trophies.
The reason I’d like Mikita to be next, though, beyond the obvious plaudits and his spot in the team’s history, is the fact he may not be long for this Earth in any sort of sound capacity. Mikita is dealing with dementia, and there likely isn’t a whole lot he remembers about his illustrious hockey career at this point. Maybe with the help of family or some former teammates, he can take on last skate.
Nov 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) makes a save against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Question 1: Of the upcoming teams on the Blackhawks’ remaining road trip, I would say that the San Jose Sharks are the biggest threat for both the short and long terms.
It’s hard to hold down a Stanley Cup Final team and the Sharks are still one of the more dangerous teams in the Western Conference. They may have started off a bit slow, but the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
I feel that the Oilers, although being carried by Connor McDavid, will fall back into what the Oilers are and leave an opening for the Sharks to be a top-three Pacific Division team. San Jose is aging, and one more Cup run is the goal this season.
Question 2: I LOVE the One More Shift initiative that the organization has come up with. It’s a great way for the Blackhawks to honor the greats of the past and give those players the proper recognition they deserve.
Denis Savard was a no-brainer to start the lineup of greats to honor, and we will for sure see the likes of Tony Esposito, Jeremy Roenick and Bobby Hull in the future. The player I want to see Chicago honor is Steve Larmer.
One of the fringe Hall of Fame players out there, Larmer was a staple of the success of the Blackhawks in the 1980s and early 1990s. While he was never the big point producer for Chicago, he averaged over a point per game in his time with the Blackhawks, scoring 923 points in 891 games with Chicago, as well as 1,012 points in 1,006 career games.
Two-time All-Star and 1982-83 Calder Memorial Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year are solid honors to his name in Chicago, and he was the definition of an iron man in that era of the NHL. His number should be in the rafters at the United Center, and giving Larmer “One More Shift” would be a great first step to properly honoring him as a Chicago great.