"I know! They'll BOTH start!"
They’ve got some brilliant hockey minds in Chicago these days. Just brilliant.
Remember how the Blackhawks signed Cristobal Huet to a huge deal out of the blue and are currently contributing $12.375 million of their cap number to goaltending? They meant to do that, and they’re going with a two-starter system.
“We’re going to push each other to play and to compete,” Huet said. “It’s going to benefit the team. He’s definitely a great goalie. There’s going to be competition, obviously, [but] it’s always like that with any NHL team. This year is going to be a little more than the average team, but it’s great. We’re going to work together and make it happen every night so we can [get] some wins.”
Wrong-o, Mr. Huet. The best NHL teams tend to be the ones with clear-cut starters and an above-average career backup (Detroit obviously being the exception to this rule). Were it not for injury and deadline deals, almost every playoff team in either conference would have had one goalie play 50-plus games and a number of backups pick up the slack. Only Montreal (early uncertainty about Carey Price, their now-clear No. 1) and Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury injury) don’t fit the bill in the East, and only Detroit (Osgood/Hasek tandem) did it in the West.
Newsflash: Chicago is not as good as Detroit, or even close. Chicago allowed an extra 5.1 shots a game last year and hasn’t improved defensively this year, so why go this route? Oh yeah, “it’s all about winning,” right?
“It’s all about winning—it’s not about keeping people happy,” Tallon said. “We want to have an opportunity … to have the best goaltending every night. If by chance that’s not going to work as far as number of games played or not wanting to be here then we have to look at that. … If it’s keeping Khabibulin, we do that. If it’s not, then we move on and we try to do something that makes sense for both of us.”
Trade Khabibulin for whatever you can get right now. He’s too old and too expensive to make any kind of sense on a team that’s trying to grow.
Oh, and Tallon hasn’t talked to Khabi about this yet.
”Nik’s in Belarus. It’s hard to get ahold of him there,” Tallon said. ”But I did talk to his agent the day after [Huet's signing], and we had a great conversation.
”I’m sure [Khabibulin] was taken aback, and rightly so. No one saw this coming, except within our staff. But this is all about winning. It’s not about keeping people happy.”
Tallon reiterated that he doesn’t plan to trade Khabibulin.
Read that last line again and try to wrap your head around it. It’s making my brain hurt to think that an otherwise competent organization is spending more than $2.5 million over the cap right now and won’t trade one of the two players making more than $5.6 million, of whom they can only play one per night.
Chicago will be able to compete for a postseason berth by virtue of the entire Northwest division falling all over itself to get worse and not take up three playoff spots (more on that tomorrow), but this strategy is mind-numbingly stupid.