Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews reacts with the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The Chicago Blackhawks may be coming to Soldier Field this weekend for a hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but to mark the occasion, there is one simple question that we would like to ask: if the Hawks were to put on shoulder pads and hit the gridiron for a game of football, what positions would each of the players play?
We’ll start on the offensive side of the ball, and with his intelligence and ability to execute under pressure (as well as his 6’3” stature), the quarterback has to be Jonathan Toews. The quarterback position is one of the most difficult in sports, and the Hawks’ captain would be a perfect fit in the pocket for the Hawks.
In terms of the other skill positions on offense, the Blackhawks would present a matchup challenge for any team they go up against. Instead of Matt Forte slicing and dicing his way up the field, the Hawks could go for more of a Darren Sproles-type of player, with Patrick Kane lining up in the running back position. The Hawks could also go with a three receiver set on offense, with Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad lining up wide and Brandon Pirri lining up in the slot to give Toews a nice option underneath to throw to.
On the offensive line, the Blackhawks would be able to mix some of their best defensive forwards with a couple of wily veterans. Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig would be an ideal fit to take on the tackle positions to keep the edges of the line intact, while Michal Rozsival and Peter Regin take care of the guard spots. Finally, Michal Handzus would be a good fit at the center position, where he could direct traffic and help shore up the middle of the line to defend Toews in the pocket.
Lest we forget the tight end position, that role would have to go to a bigger Blackhawk with soft hands and the ability to take a hit. Marian Hossa would be an ideal fit for that role, and it’d be easy to see him racking up Martellus Bennett-type catches over the middle of the field.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Blackhawks would have an interesting time setting up, but they do have several guys who would fit right in as they try to stop the opponent from scoring. On the defensive line, the Hawks could deploy speedsters like Ben Smith and Kris Versteeg at the defensive end positions, while Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta take up some serious room and help stop the run at the defensive tackle spots.
Stepping back into the secondary, the challenge for opponents becomes even more serious. At the cornerback positions, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson are capable of keeping guys in front of them with their excellent strength, but even if they fail at that, then safeties Andrew Shaw and Nick Leddy will use a combination of speed and ferocity to close gaps and bulldoze opponents foolish enough to venture over the middle of the field.
Finally, a Windy City football team wouldn’t be complete without some serious heft at the linebacker position, and the Hawks certainly aren’t lacking in that area. Hossa represents a two-way threat on the ice, and on the gridiron, he’ll do the same, lining up at the weak side linebacker position. At strong side, Brent Seabrook will not only bring his coverage abilities to the field, but he also has the ability to hammer opponents with Lance Briggs-type intensity. Finally, Duncan Keith will captain the defense from the middle linebacker spot, and even though he doesn’t have the raw ferocity of a Dick Butkus, he does have the ability to change tactics and use his speed to make plays, much like Brian Urlacher did.
While this football version of the Blackhawks likely wouldn’t beat an NFL team, it’s hard to imagine that other hockey teams who would assemble such a group would be able to compete with the skill that they’d have all over the field. With speed on the edges and bulk up the middle, the Hawks would be a serious threat for a football championship.
What do you think, Hawks fans? Do you like the lineup that we assembled, or do you have other ideas for how the team should look? Let us know in the comments!