As the calendar turns to August, hockey fans let out a collective groan as they realize that there is still a month until NHL training camps and preseason games get underway. To help alleviate some of that boredom, we’re debuting a new series on Madhouse Enforcer this week, entitled “Monday Musings.” Basically, we will take a question that faces either the Blackhawks or any other NHL team and we will discuss it at length to help deal with the malaise that hockey fans everywhere are dealing with in this most awful month of the year.
Today’s question is this: who should get the “A” stitched onto their sweater now that Patrick Sharp has been sent to the Dallas Stars?
The Chicago Blackhawks made a splash when they sent Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars back in July, but his departure left a vacancy for the Blackhawks in terms of their alternate captain position. Sharp had held the “A” on his sweater since the 2008-09 season, with Duncan Keith also serving in the role during that time.
With Sharp now out of the picture, the question of which Blackhawk should get the designation as an alternate still has yet to be answered. There are several players who have legitimate claims to the role as a team leader both on the ice and off, but which one should get it?
Hjalmarsson may not get the attention that other star players get on the Blackhawks, but he is just as critical to their success. He plays tough defensive minutes on a regular basis, blocks a ton of shots and shows a willingness to sacrifice his body to make plays, and he also has some sneaky good offensive abilities that allow the Hawks to get their transition game going.
That kind of selfless dedication and effectiveness goes a long way when generating respect among peers, and Hjalmarsson definitely qualifies on both counts.
Hossa has been with the Blackhawks for six seasons now, and the veteran winger excels at doing the little things necessary to win. He is an excellent goal scorer and possesses great vision for creating offense in the zone, and he also is arguably the best defensive forward in the NHL as he plays a key role on both the forecheck and in penalty killing situations.
Hossa would also help maintain the balance the Hawks had with Sharp in terms of giving one alternate position to both the forwards and to the defenseman. Not a big deal, but something Joel Quenneville and company may consider.
There aren’t a lot of vocal leaders on the Blackhawks, but when one thinks of a guy who fills that role, it would certainly be Seabrook. He is a hard-hitting defenseman that has worked hard at his game on both ends of the ice, and even though he could potentially hit free agency after the coming season, he is one of the team’s most integral pieces and they will likely make every effort to keep him.
And Our Winner Is…..
While Hjalmarsson and Hossa both have good cases to get the job, we’re leaning Seabrook, and we’d imagine the Blackhawks are too. Seabrook has generally worn the “A” on his jersey when Keith, Sharp, or Jonathan Toews have missed time during the season, and he is clearly a player that commands a lot of respect in the dressing room for the Hawks.