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S.ave O.ur S.eason

There has not been a sense of urgency surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks this great for as long as I can remember watching the team. Before the salary cap was re-instated everyone assumed that there was a hockey dynasty brewing in Chicago, but now that assumption seems premature. The Hawks still have enough core talent to win the cup again, but the time is now. If this team wants to make a run at the playoffs they can’t be satisfied with anything less than a win, no matter what. They need to bring playoff level intensity because for this season the playoffs start now.

Early in the week Duncan Keith called out his teammates for not playing with enough urgency and toughness. His comments at first appeared to be directed towards the newer and lesser proven players on the team. A day after these comments were made Scott Bowman traded away Jack Skille, a once highly touted prospect, seemingly validating Keith’s comments and the team’s level of frustration.

In this trade the Hawks said goodbye to Skille (7th overall pick, 2005) and welcome Michael Frolik (10th overall pick, 2006). This doesn’t help the team in the immediate future as much as it sends a message of accountability. While helping give the depth at center, this also shows that players are going to be held accountable for their productivity.

This was Skille’s first year as a full time player, and though he has had flashes of potential, it was becoming more clear each game that he was not a good fit for the team’s identity. Skille is a skill player with a lot of speed and scoring potential, but the Hawks already have a surplus of this sort of athlete, they sorely need a tougher and more physical forward that can score and disrupt an opposing team’s goalie.

At this point of the season the Hawks are really feeling the effects of their team’s shakeup as a result of the NHL’s new salary cap GM Scott Bowman had no choice to trade away key players (Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg) but the gaps left on the team, specifically at left wing have become more and more glaring.

As it gets closer to the trade deadline expect another move to be made by Bowman depending on how the team responds to the recent struggles. Players like Jack Dowell, Tomas Kopecky, and Bryan Bickell will be shopped around the league if the team continues to flounder. It could even be speculated that the more high profile players on the team producing below a level that justifies their contracts could be moved were the season to head towards an even more negative and disastrous end.

Following the trade, the Hawks beat the Oilers 4-1, and the team’s forwards were flying around the ice, playing with fiery inspiration. Though the Oilers aren’t the premier team to defeat in the league, hopefully the Hawks can build some momentum at this crucial juncture of the season and make a run at the playoffs with the players they have on their roster.

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