Day One: Hawks Make Zhamnov Happy – Will the Fans Be Next?

By Bill Placzek
I made my feelings clear that if things fell in place, Don Blackburn could
have been taken at #9. I really didn’t think he would be there. Or maybe I
felt Ruutu’s knee surgeries would knock him down a notch. Nonetheless,
Blackburn was higher on my board and I would have taken him.

Even if all the Hawk farm goalies develop, you can never have enough
goalies. Ask San Jose, Buffalo, and New Jersey who take one or two early each
year. That was my thinking …. one of the elite eight.

Don’t get me wrong, it is difficult to quibble when your home team takes a
winner, already in the top Finnish league and the hardest working,
orneriest,solid muscle mass forechecker available.
And when Ruutu gets back on his skates in August after the TWO problems with his knee are healed he may be a better pro than Blackburn.

When Dallas takes the goalie you are going to take as an alternative to
Blackburn, Freeze goalie Jason Bacashihua, two picks before you, you don’t

You either trade out or you go to another position, but you do not REACH!

If you do, to use Mel Kiper’s coined expression, you simply don’t know what
the draft is about.

To take Adam Munro was an insult to each of us, as he was clearly not the
best player available.

Into the 3rd round, Michel Goulet stopped and I asked his interpretation of
this blunder. I said to him, “You KNOW they (Blackhawks) went goalie because
Dallas took the kid they wanted. Honestly, was Munro that high on the
Avalanche board?” He shook his head head, smiled and said no, and
diplomatically explained to rookie draft-nik me how “….all team boards are
not the same, maybe they saw something that elevated him…”
I honestly hope I am wrong and I wish Adam Munro all the best at proving me
wrong. It is clear that Munro came on late in the season and playoffs, as he did the year before when he was injured in the high school volleyball ankle incident. But then the summer was when he work hard to improve his conditioning and game.
He is a hard working, mentally tough competitor.
He plays at the top of the crease as primarily a stand-up style guy, but uses the butterfly effectively. He is patient,strong and well balanced on his skates, controls his rebounds and has a good glove.

Matt Keith the 6’1″ RHC-W was a value pick in the late second as he his
injuries at Spokane made him available in the late second where the Hawks had
to pick after squandering their true early #2 pick in the Sylvain Cote trade
with Toronto.
Keith is a sound positional player who plays both wing and centre. He has a strong work ethic and is a player who causes turnovers as Ruutu does. He shows patience when he has the puck, and has good ice awareness, and will sacrifice himself to make the play. He has a long smooths stride,anticipates well, and drives the net well, and is especially quick to the puck on rebounds. A solid passer, he is good in tarffic has a quick shot,especially in motion (on the move).

Then came the worst news of the day, more devastating then any bad pick.

Jason Weimer along with Valeri Bure were sent to Florida at a bargain
basement price. Neidermayer was a prize? Most Hawk fans would have made
this trade with about anybody as the return.

As “Blackhawk Bob” Perschon said as if happened, “Weimer was born to be
Hawk!” Before we rationalize why it worked in the Panthers favor, think more
on what happened: In front of their season ticket holders, they gave them a
reason to come back. Now think about the real world side of the transaction:
both Weimer and Bure make handsome salaries, so maybe the bottom line
bottomed out for we fans again.

The Hawks did manage to acquire 30 year old restricted free agent and former
Smith Russian Igor Korolev, the boyhood friend of Alex Zhamnov for the 88th
pick overall. Maybe now, Zhamnov will resign for less dollars. That is the
bottom line to stay on board the U.S.S. Blackhawk.

I loved the pick of goalie Craig Andersson, a Calgary returnee whom the
Blackhawks picked earlier than Calgary did the year before. This pick was one
where the Hawks used all their alotted time and then took a time out, still
not sure Andersson’s agent would agree to financial terms, needed and
additional 30 second time out. When the the podium announced, “Blackhawks
take a second 30 second time-out”, I managed in my loudest stadium voice to
add “30 more years of agony”, which was judged the humorous moment of the
draft, though our group chides of “Wake Pully up” as the Hawks were on the
clock, were well timed and well received.
Scouts I talked to saw enough of Andersson to tell me that Sutter probably had a little to do with the Hawks taking him higher in his re-opt than Calgary did the first time around. Andersson was born in Park Ridge and lived in west Barrington.
Andersson felt that staying in the Calgary system was not the best situation as a goaltenders, as he felt his options of “tick” would be limited. Scouts who have watched him thought he has solid chances, and as a 20 year old,the Hawks get a guy who may help a little quicker than most other goalers in this draft.

Tomorrow is another draft day.