CHICAGO - MARCH 02: James Wisniewski #43 of the Chicago Blackhawks fights with Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at the United Center on March 2, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks won 4-1.
Upon first hearing the news, announced earlier today, that Blackhawks center Adam Burish would miss the 2009-10 season with a torn ACL, it made sense to feel a little apoplectic. After all, the Hawks have not exactly had the best offseason. Next year's offseason could be even rockier. If new GM Stan Bowman wants to win a Stanley Cup, it's reasonable to assume it has to happen this year. It's not the time to be losing players to season-ending injuries.
But beyond the bad news of the injury itself, and how much it must suck to be Adam Burish right now -- nothing quite like working hard all offseason and then busting your knee just as the payoff of the real games starts -- Burish's injury isn't dire for the Hawks. If they're lucky, they'll barely notice.
Fortunately, the Hawks have great fourth-line depth around the center position. 22-year-old Jack Skille has increased that depth this spring with his impressive play, but even if Skille can't do the job, Tomas Kopecky should be able to handle the responsibilities just fine. Slotting a few other players in different roles -- maybe moving Ben Eager to the center from the wing, for example -- could get the job done, too.
Burish's main strength is his willingness to go to war almost every night. He's a good defender, a physical player, and he relishes the sort of hockey chippiness that certain players never will. In short, he's an enforcer, probably the Hawks' best. But those skills are not exactly in limited supply. Plenty of other Hawks can assume the role. It's certainly easier than becoming the team's leading scorer.
So while the injury sucks for Burish, and the female Blackhawks fans will no doubt miss Adam's very available, smiling bachelorhood, the Hawks themselves should be able to weather his loss just fine. It's not good, but it's not that all that bad, either.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.