Pressure builds on the Hawk prospects to pan out -part one

By Bill Placzek

It is increasingly clear that the face lifts by both former G.M. Bob Murray and current G.M. Mike Smith has done little to lift the team’s major league skin and eliminate the crow’s feet of post season elimination.

Granted there have been some bright spots, the biggest being the added offensive production of l’il Steve Sullivan, at almost a point a game pace since his wavier pick up from the Toronto house cleaning in order that they might be able to add the enigmatic Dmitri Khristich.

Tampa Bay decided Michael Nylander would never play defense and was only effective when in control of the puck, and a risk when he didn’t have it. There were absolutely correct but when placed at centre with Sullivan they are able to be dominant players on the attacking end of the rink,albeit a liability without it. Regardless,without their presence the Hawk offense would be far limited without them.

Besides Amonte and an occasionally on night from the gentle giant Eric Daze, the Hawks have had to fill the rest of the roster with players who would never be considered more than “pieces” elsewhere.

They did cushion their rosters with 32 yr. old rookie Steve Poapst, who has had hard times catching the NHL speed guys,Chris McAlpine, 29 yr. old, an undersized hard hitter who is at best a #5 guy. As is Kevin Dean whose off ice hardships with his premature son have compounded his poor play.

Other plugging has come at times from the still not so ready for prime time Nolan Baumgartner and everyone’s prospect to be, Steve McCarthy.

Chicago’s press continue to shoot at the Hawk management for its lack of ice time for the young captain of team Canada’s World Junior entry.

How can, they ask, San Jose line up two 2O year old defensemen in Scott Hannan and Brad Stuart, while the Hawks have given McCarthy limited NHL exposure?

I would answer this simply by the fact San Jose is able to ice four solid NHL lines in front of them, making their experiences fairly positive ones. McCarthy playing in front of the patchwork offense AND defense might poison his confidence in a fortnight. The best possible situation with a promising young defensemen I have ever watch was that of the North Star’s Richard Matvichuk. The eased him into shifts in the first periods. The assistant coach would walk with him as the team departed from the ice between periods, going through strategies and positioning, point to the plaecs as he spoke. This went on for years and Matvichuk’s ice time increased and he improved his game.

No one can ever expect McCarthy to be a pro equal to that of a Stuart, whose possiblities seem to reach as high as becoming a #1 defensemen.

McCarthy is smaller, and though capable defensively not in any form, dominant.

Can he be as good as Hannan? Most assuredly.
But seems to have a high end potential as a Eric Weinrich type, a #3 guy.(You know,the guy the Hawks sent packing with Steve Larmer for Patrice Poulin and Bryan Marchment?)

Tommorrow: Where help will come from the prospects now in the farm and amatuer levels.