Hawks Claim Goalie Swap Not an Issue

Quenneville says "Huet is the guy"

Here's the good news: The Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks remain a high-flying scoring team, a team capable of stretching opponents to the breaking point and taking advantage at any time. The bad news is this style tends to stretch out the Hawks, too, making them vulnerable on the defensive end.

Which is where having a good goalie comes in.

Unfortunately, that's in doubt. Cristobal Huet has not played particularly well in the young season so far, and the Hawks seemed to say as much when they sat him on Wednesday in favor of backup Antti Niemi. This not only kept Huet on the bench for a night, it robbed him of the ability to face off against former goalie partner Nikolai Khabibulin. That had to suck.

But Quenneville is refusing to admit that Niemi's start had anything to with Huet. To Quenneville -- or at least in the reality Quenneville is willing to convey to the media -- it was merely a matter of getting Niemi a "home start," whatever that means:

''It gave [Niemi] a home start,'' Quenneville said. ''It's an opportunity for Antti. He deserved it. But Huet's the guy. He'll play most of the games early in the year.''

That might the single most non-committal quote in the long and illustrious history of sports quotes. Huet wil play "most of the games early in the year"? Huh? What about late in the year? Is Huet the goalie or not?

The reason this is an issue is that it tends to jeopardize Huet's status for the Hawks, and mental issues are not exactly the thing you want to inflict on your goalie at any time, let alone this early in the season. Maybe Niemi can handle the load, and maybe this doesn't matter to Huet at all. But these games feel a little silly, don't they?

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.

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