Where It Might Have Gone Wrong

Whether or not you think the coach should be fired, the problems with the Hawks are obvious.

But they may all come to one big one: the Hawks don't possess the puck enough.

This was never a team that could defend or goaltend its way out of a barrage. It needed to limit the amount of time it has to be without the puck. It can't do that right now. Why?

It's kind of layered. When the Hawks were at their best the past three years, they had a d-man in Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell on the ice for at least two-thirds of the game who could control the play. We know about the Campbell trade. As much as the Hawks are hurting from that, maybe there was only a small, one-time window to get out from under that contract and Stan Bowman had to take it. Whatever, that's what happened.

What's also happened is that Duncan Keith took a step back. In all honestly, Keith only had the speed to control a game. He's never been that good of a passer, though not bad either, and his offensive numbers from his Norris year always felt a bit of a outlier. He can get too frantic in all zones to keep the puck in the Hawks possession.

But that's not the big problem. After the Campbell trade, and this is all a guess from me, Stan Bowman must have thought that Chris Campoli would take his lowball offer. While Campoli is not miracle worker (and got hurt for Montreal anyway), he was just good enough to take a load off Nick Leddy for at least the start of the year. That would have led Leddy to work his way into the NHL game on the 3rd pair with 15 minutes a night and no PK time, at least until he earned more which he never really did.

But Campoli didn't, and Stan was left without many options. He did the best he could, and signed Sami Lepisto, who the past two years was Diet Campoli.

But Quenneville wasn't having it. He banished Lepisto at the first asking, and Leddy was tossed into the deep end where he's been horribly exposed. Now he can't help the Hawks possess the puck, because he's getting forechecked into oblivion. They can only opt for scrambled clearances that just hand the puck back to the opposition. He doesn't charge the Hawks up the ice. Keith only occasionally does. No one steps into the breach.

There are other, smaller aspects. The forwards continue to fly the zone, leaving the d-men to try and either skate all the way to the other zone themselves or try 150-foot passes. The Hawks need to give up on that and attack as a five-man unit.

But it was that decision over the summer, or the decisions they were forced into, that may have landed them where they are now.

Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .

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