29 July 2010

The Collapse in Chicago: A Day in the Life of Stan Bowman

Tough summer for the son of the greatest coach of all time. Sure, the Blackhawks won a cup. Sure, they had a fun parade full of people who haven't watched a collective 60 minutes of hockey in their entire lives. Sure, they got to play Chelsea Dagger over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and da da da, da da da, duh da da, duh...

Ahem. They got to play it 'till everyone's brain short-circuited.

But that celebration was mostly short-lived. At least for Stan. Because Stan knew deep down inside, that he had a nightmare in front of him. A cap situation that could only be summarized as a clusterfuck on horse steriods. And Stan didn't have any solutions.

Not surprising really. I mean, the dude got the job because his dad is a super-genius that the franchise wanted to attract and keep around. And it's not like they won the cup off of his ingenuity. The roster that took the ice this year had very little to do with him, and everything to do with Dale Tallon, years and years of bottom feeding, and obvious draft picks. So really, no matter how many times the Chicago faithful (all five of them) repeat to themselves that everything will be OK, and they'll find a way out of cap-hell, there isn't really any reason to have faith, or believe that anything other than an utter collapse is imminent.

Today Antti Niemi goes to salary arbitration. In order to fit under the cap, the Hawks are hoping that he's awarded a contract where he has to pay the team about $5 million a year for a decade. They're really relying on the arbitor demanding that Antti sell his family's yam farm (or whatever the hell they grow in Finland) and sacrifice three of his closest relatives to the Spirit of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Otherwise, they're - to put it scientifically - fucked.

This has been causing Stan a great deal of stress. I mean, considering his team actually can't even afford to pay their Stanley Cup winning goaltender the league minimum, he's got to be worried about the perfect storm in front of him. The guy just won a Stanley Cup, goaltenders with less to brag about are signing multimillion dollar awards, and the backup on the same damn team is pulling down $5.6 million a year. That's just hillarious.

Well, it's less hillarious to Stan. He's not taking it so well. In fact, we here at The Winged Wheel have proof. We've got the insight you just don't get elsewhere. Lucky for you I'm currently stuck in enemy territory, and through covert operations I managed to spy on Stan for a whole day, tracking his every move. And without further ado, I present:

"A Day in the Life of Stan Bowman."

  • 7:15 am: Chelsea Dagger alarm goes off. Stan blindly reaches up and drops a fist down on the snooze button.
  • 8:25 am: 10 "snoozes" later, Stan throws the alarm clock across the room. Pulls a bottle of Grape Burnetts from under his pillow and takes a 45 second swig.
  • 8:30 am: Stan rolls out of bed, landing on the floor. Drags himself up and to the kitchen where he pours himself a bowl of Rice Krispies and Wild Turkey. Grabs the Tribune, flips to the Sports section to read another thrilling article designed to teach the Chicago masses about the complicated icing rule they haven't been able to figure out yet.
  • 9:00 am: Doorbell rings. Opens to find a gift basket from Atlanta Thrashers's Rick Dudley. Angrily signs and throws it in the corner with decaying flowers he got from the Maple Leafs' Brian Burke.
  • 9:15 am: Hot shower and a good long cry.
  • 9:45 am: OK, now it's a cold shower. Still crying.
  • 10:30 am: Assistant, concerned that he hasn't shown up at the United Center yet, enters to find him shivering in the fetal position of the floor of his still running shower, sobbing uncontrollably. Helps him to his feet, and lets him cry on his shoulder.
  • 11:00 am: Managed to finally get dressed in sweatpants and an "I Heart Dad" tee, Stan calls for a cab because he's still drunk from breakfast.
  • 11:25 am: Finally convinces the company to send a driver after persistent insistance that despite his affiliation with the Blackhawks, he's really not that close to Patrick Kane.
  • 12:00 pm: Arrives at the United Center, passes Huet's agent in the hall. Smiles through grit teeth. Afterward, punches himself in the dick.
  • 12:15 pm: More crying.
  • 12:30 pm: Listens to 29 voicemails full of hysterical laughter from GM's returning calls about their interest in Cristobal Huet or Brian Campbell.
  • 1:00 pm: Assistant enteres office with his usual summer lunch: Three bottles of Tums and a glass full of Whiskey and Nyquil.
  • 1:30 pm: Stands on the roof of the United Center, stares down at the earth below for about an hour.
  • 2:30 pm: Receives a call from IT, confirming that CapGeek.com has been blocked from the United Center servers.
  • 3:00 pm: Meeting with scouting corps going over the affordable prospects. A kid someone found playing street hockey on the south side with a 2 x 4, a tennis ball, and a garbage can seems promising to fill out the fourth line, but his contract demands may be a little high.
  • 3:25 pm: Throws darts at large portrait of Dale Tallon. Eventually charges the picture, throwing punches at the drawing's face. Patrick Kane walks by and offers him advice on his form.
  • 3:45 pm: Checks in on group of top notch accountants and numbers gurus for an update on their  project assignment - reinventing math. Not going well.
  • 4:00 pm: Calls Marian Hossa to see if he has dinner plans. Reluctantly agrees that Tomas Kopecky can come too, and that he gets to pick the restaurant.
  • 5:00 pm: Dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese. After Hossa threatens to quit, Stan agrees to give Kopecky quarters to play the games. The two share a laugh over a joke about Hossa playing after 40.
  • 5:15 pm: Freaks out because he forgot to feed Denis Savard. Calls his assistant to ask him to throw some scraps into the cage he's been kept in since being fired over nothing.
  • 6:00 pm: On his walk home, native Chicagoan approaches him, asking "Don't I know you?" Receives puzzled stare after explaining he's associated with a hockey team. Spends 20 minutes describing hockey.
  • 7:00 pm: Gets home, calls his dad and begs him to find him a different job. Cries.
  • 7:45 pm: Fires up the PS3 to play NHL10. Still can't manage to get through a season without being fired in the Be A GM mode.
  • 9:00 pm: Prayer. Deplores the lord to please not let the sun rise in the morning. 
  • 9:15 pm: Passes out clutching a copy of the pre-lockout CBA, stained with booze and tears
Poor Stan. It can't be easy knowing that your window of opportunity is officially slammed shut and knowing that you are doomed to spend the rest of your career losing to the team your fanbase seems to think "sucks" so hard. Well hey... at least he's got a ring someone else earned for him that he can pawn in a few years.

...is it October yet?

32 comments:

  1. Somehow I'm just coming across this site now, but well done sir. I will happily include you in the WWEh blog roll

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  2. Can you say bitter? Banner night, 2010. Who are the Hawks playing?

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  3. Theorious GoodwillAugust 2, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Suck my Cup. Enjoy the view on banner night.

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  4. hahahaha... silly Blackhawk fans... the Wings players will probably just laugh at how few championship banners you actually have, compared to how long you've been a franchise. now THAT'S funny!

    you think we're bitter? we'll ask you the same question in 8 months =)

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  5. As opposed to the Wings who won 7 cups when there were only six teams to play against? And once they added the others, the Wings didn't win until '97. That's.... oh... thirty years? Give or take one?

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  6. As a Canucks fan, thanks for the laughs at Chicago's expense.

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  7. And NOT a Chicago fan. :D Sadly, every team in California sucks. (Take your pick at which one I support.)
    But yes, I CAN do simple math. Yay, me. I wouldn't be bragging about Detroit that much given the fact that you didn't win a cup for roughly the same time span as the Hawks you mock.

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  8. the Wings have the 2nd most Finals appearances & 3rd most wins in NHL history. The Blackhawks have only 1 more Cup win than the "worst" original 6 franchise...

    I don't know what else you need

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  9. Finals are nice, but what's their percentage of wins in that category?

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  10. Detroit Finals w% = .458

    Chicago Finals w% = .323

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  11. also I meant to add in my other post that the Rangers are the sixth place "worst O6" team

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  12. And thank you for missing my point, Manny. When I said you won seven cups... I meant you only needed to beat FIVE OTHER TEAMS. Not nearly as hard to do as the other four you won. I'm sure even CHICAGO could beat out only five teams.

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  13. oh but you are missing MY point. CHICAGO only won 3 cups when there were 6 teams. you're right though... 7 is not that much better, but still good for third place during the original 6 era. Before 1968, Montreal had 14, Toronto had 13, Wings 7, Bruins 3, Blackhawks 3, Rangers 3.

    although I do not think you are even understanding your own point... check the facts, my anonymous friend from California =)

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  14. Ah, ALSO not from Cali. But it DOES seem to be a three-way tie for last between Boston, Chicago, and New York. (Not bad, half the league is in last. :D )

    And while it IS better than them, it IS also not entirely a good comparison to make when comparing a six-team league to a thirty-team league.

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  15. http://thehockeywriters.com/top-ten-stanley-cup-winners-equalized/

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  16. Regardless, I still say that Detroit shouldn't be called "Hockeytown." If anything, that title belongs to Montreal. But of course, I'd have to learn French to read it.

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  17. I respect the Wings history. But as a Hawks fan, we did just win, so a little respect would be nice. Headline of this article is "Collapse of Chicago...". Let me break this "collapse" down for you:

    Top Hawks players from top to bottom last year (very subjective and yet objective at the same time, I think this is a fair assessment--I welcome challengers but please, give me a real reason WHY you disagree):

    1. Toews (23 years young, returning)
    2. Keith (Norris winner, leader, returning)
    3. Kane (21, returning without mullet, without booze)
    4. Sharp (returning)
    5. Hossa (returning)
    6. Seabrook (returning)
    7. Versteeg (gone) *Very generous ranking, but I thought he had a superb year
    8. Buff (gone) *could be as high as 6, as low as 12. This guy had a -7 for the season...but he killed it in the playoffs.
    9. Hjalmarsson (23 years young, huge upside, returning)
    10. Brouwer (22 goals, returning)
    11. Campbell (returning with huge contract, anchors 2nd line)
    12. Kopecky (returning)/ Niemi (gone) TIE
    13. Dave Bolland (welcome back penalty killing monster)
    14. Ladd (gone)
    15. Brent Sopel (gone)
    16. Ben Eager (gone)
    17. John Madden (gone)
    18. Colin Fraser (gone)
    19. Adam Burish (gone)

    17-19 played limited to no roles in the playoffs for this team. Madden is nearing 40. Sopel was gritty, but replacable.

    So that's your 7th, 8th and 12, 14 players gone: Niemi, Ladd, Versteeg Buff. Tough losses, no doubt. But this team coming back as it is can win the Cup--or come close--again.

    By no means is this a dismantling or a collapse of the team. Niemi did his job and had a few stellar games, and was replaced with an all-star and vet in Turco. Detroit has his number though, I'll admit to that.

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  18. TP you guys are still $3,103,257 over the cap with 20 players on the roster. It isn't over yet.

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  19. I have but two arguments with that, TP. One is Brian Campbell. Really, what'd he DO this season? I can say that I never watched much of Chicago, so I'm a tad out of it, but you seem to know about them. In the games I saw, Campbell was barely mentioned at all, far less did he get points. The only thing Campbell seems to do is exist on your team to eat up salary space with his massive contract.

    The other argument is Dustin (since I can't spell his last name) and why he's only at 8. I know you said he could've been higher but for his -7. He STILL put up 2 or 3 of the game winners in San Jose (can't say for the other series), so without him there, it could've been a different series. Dustin always seemed to score big goals at the right time. This isn't really an argument so much as it is my personal opinion on him. He's gonna be a great add for Atlanta.

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  20. J-Rock,

    All meaningful moves are over and done with. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that Sharp is back.

    Tom, Campbell has a huge contract. But he is an excellent, fast defender--an excellent passer, and he completely changed Buff's role on the team. Also, take a look at the Hawks record after he came back from injury, and specifically Dustin's stats when he was freed up to play forward.

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  21. TP

    You can make the argument that you've still got a decent core all you want. That's not the point. It's the depth players that win games and championships. If having a good line or two was the key to Cups, teams like the Sens or the Lightning would be winning hardware left and right.

    The fact remains: Chicago lost almost all of their depth. Unless some of those random pieces your super-genius GM has crammed in based on their ability to hold a stick and get paid the league minimum turn out to be real outstanding scorers - you're screwed. Head to head, Towes, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa may be able to roll with most any other team. But that's where it ends. And that's what will bite your hodgepodge of a clusterfuck team in it's shiny purple ass.

    Enjoy the next 49.

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  22. Also:

    HAHAHAHAHAH TURCO HAHAHHAHAHAHA

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  23. CaptNorris5--

    Wow, you're either horribly immature or twelve years old. I'll go with the latter. Detroit, you got a real winner of a fan here.


    You said Toews (not Towes, learn how to spell), Kane, Sharp and Hossa maybe be able to "roll with most any other team...but that's where it ends." You left out a few key players there buddy.

    Let's start with Capt "Norris" (ironically--you're profile name!): Duncan Keith. Then there's Hjalmarsson (surprise--he's not making the league minimum!), Campbell, Seabrook, Bolland, Brouwer, Kopecky.

    Are you serious? I'm pretty sure that is the a good portion of our depth coming back, with Ladd, Versteeg, and Buff gone. In comes Stalberg, Bickell, Skille. Let's just wait and see what these guys can do, OK? Before everyone (except Vegas..shockingly) writes them off. I'm especially eager to see Stalberg--that kid can play.

    We lost four role players, and one was our goalie. And Turco is no huge dropoff--but I know, Detroit will average no less than 7 goals against him next year. Anything else would be a failure, right!?

    Enjoy the ceremony on opening night--glad we can host.

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  24. TP -

    First - of course I'm horribly immature. Clearly you haven't read much of this blog. Hell, it's right there in the disclaimer.

    And you're right - fuck me for a typo. There goes all my credibility. Maybe just to make it easy on myself I'll just go ahead and refer to your beloved baby captain as Muttonchops McGee. Either that or Shitfuck Sideburns. We'll see.

    I admire your confidence. But again - it's depth that wins out. You can go ahead and write off Bufgahdkghtadglyn (I'm sorry... did I spell that right?), Versteeg, and Ladd all day, but the fact is they were extremely key contributors - both in the regular season and afterward. When you lose that talent, you lose quite a bit of depth. I'm not as convinced that Tomas Kopecky is truly going to be your savior and jump into that third line and become a scoring machine.

    While I'm not particularly excited about the banner raising - I am certainly looking forward to the next 49 years and the several pucks that are going to fly by Turco all season. Also looking forward to the bevy of free agents that are going to think twice about joining your team once your GM pisses all over Huet's career and sends him to the minors because your front office was far too enamored with his agent and gave him a ridiculously stupid contract. That's going to be quite the show.

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  25. Capt Norris--

    Why are you all over the place? First you say it's about depth that wins out. Then you single out Tomas Kopecky being able to jump into the third line and becoming a scoring machine. He doesn't need to be with Sharp, Hossa, Kane, Toews, Brouwer.

    Don't forget--Brouwer had 22 goals last year. He was just as "key" as Versteeg.

    If you honestly think the Hawks will go into oblivion with the team they have right now, you're nuts. Well I already think you're nuts, so I'm wasting my time aren't I?

    As it stands, the Hawks have the TWO of the top four defensive lines in hockey, and a top 3 first line, and a top 3 second line. I'll be shocked if they don't average 105 points a season for the next 6 years. It's beyond confidence. Muttonchops is a different breed, as many are figuring out. Don't you realize our best players are BABY FACED like you said, AND JUST WON A CHAMPIONSHIP? What happens when they reach their prime?

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  26. TP -- you're such a blind Blackhawk fan, it's kind of ridiculous.

    Brouwer had 22 goals last year... but who was he playing with? Did he play with Versteeg or Ladd or Byfuglien ever throughout the season? Honestly I don't know for sure, but if he did, that immediately drops his point totals. If you remember the Red Wings' 09-10 season they lost a couple key offensive players (Hossa, Samuelsson & Hudler, and then Franzen for the majority of the season along with almost ALL the key guys for good chunks of time throughout the season due to injury)

    Imagine all those guys gone ALL the time. Hudler and Samuelsson were 2 of the Wings' "depth" players... their absence hurt the Wings a lot in the offense department, even though the core was still there. a lot of fans didn't really appreciate them (Samuelsson specifically) when they were here, including me. The Wings struggled. They came back and made the playoffs, because their "injured depth" returned to the lineup. Hawks won't have guys returning in the middle season to count on for a boost... trust me. It will be a long season.

    Hawks fans will miss Ladd. They'll miss Byfuglien. They'll miss Versteeg. They'll miss Bolland.

    You can have "the core" all you want, but if no one's supporting them, opposing teams' top line will shut them down more often then not. As mentioned in someone's earlier post... why have the Lightning been sucking recently, even though they have offensive firepowers in Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Stamkos? Why have the Senators sucked, especially when they had Heatley, Spezza, and Alfredsson?

    Depth is where it's at.

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  27. Brouwer played on different lines, but mostly line 2. He'll be there again next year.

    And are you really comparing the depleted team of the Lightning, with grandpa Martin St. Louis on the first line, to make a point about the Hawks? The Hawks will be relying on EIGHT stud players next year. EIGHT. Not a few like Stamkos and Lecavelier. My goodness. Try to reference a team that had a poor fourth line and why the Hawks might fall into a difficult situation. That would prove a bigger point.

    Bolland is back, by the way. So we won't miss him. We also won't miss Ladd. Good, team player, but I personally am ok with getting prospects for him.

    The fourth line a toss up at this point. But how can you be prophetic and just assume these new players aren't going to fit in? Jack Skille and Kyle Beach are good. They are minimum salary because they are new NHL players. It's not like we are signing scrubs or minimum salary vets--we are bringing in new, young players who may or may not be good.

    At worst, this team will lose eight more games next year with their top two lines in check. I agree the deepest teams should and will be favorites. But Motown makes it seem like the Hawks are finished. They might not be finished for a while, barring major catastrophic injury.

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