When the S*** Goes Down

That’s basically the third line tonight. A mumbling, drunk guy who just isn’t very good (Kris Versteeg), a giant and not-good player (Michal Handzus), and a guy who is awesome but has no legs (Patrick Sharp).

After seeing the lines and speculating about all kinds of stuff for the future, I’ve gotta say that I’m just ready for this game to start. If you want any sort of analysis, this is not the place to get it today. I haven’t eaten anything and am not very good at math.

It should be time to break the glass and play Tyrion’s speech from Blackwater, but that’ll come before game 7. Remember, we still haven’t seen anything from this gentleman yet:

 

Never forget, folks. Never F*&#ing Forget.

Friends, acquaintances, and people that lack self-respect and teeth who root for the St. Louis Blues, I want to take you back to a time in the not-so-distant past. A time when gasoline cost $1.40 per gallon. A time when Aramark served weird grey meats on buns and sold them for 8 dollars as hamburgers at the United Center. A time when WWF referred to awesome wrestling and not animal charities. April 2002 to be exact.

On April 18th, 2002 the Chicago Blackhawks were gearing up for their first playoff game since Claude Lemieux hung four points on Jeff Hackett to send them to the golf course in 1997. They’d enter the playoffs as a 5 seed, facing the St. Louis Blues in the opening round.

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Great March Saviors in Hawks History

Whatcha gonna do, brother, when TeuvoMania runs wild on you? Hell, this lede is awful. I just wanted to use that sentence at some point. Anyway, as we prepare for Finnish Jesus to lead the Blackhawks to a third title in 5 years we need to pour one out for another European March call-up.

On this date in 2003 the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves 15 points out of a playoff spot with only 6 games left. They needed a HUGE boost to get into the playoffs as an 8th seed. It would have taken mass contraction, really, for the Hawks to get into the postseason. Regardless, general manager Mike Smith took it upon himself to upgrade the Blackhawks’ anemic offense after the trade deadline by bringing up KHL leading scorer and Russian import Alexander Radulov…

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How Bob Pulford traded a pylon for a Hammer.

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Monday morning I was wide awake at 3:30 am, and unable to sleep. So like a normal person I spent a handful of minutes during a commercial break of a DVR’d episode of Law & Order looking at hilarious things Mike Milbury has done in his career. That led me down an Internet rabbit-hole that consisted of Hockey-Reference.com and other crap that I’ve forgotten about. I completely missed out on whether or not Sam Waterston and Elizabeth Rohm convicted some guy for shooting some other guy or something because I started looking at trades at the NHL trade deadline from 2003 and 2004. I found out that Milbury Milburied the Blackhawks a high quality item for a vodka-drenched garbage hill.

Before we get to how the Blackhawks got Mike Milbury to take a pile of their crap for a valuable asset, we need to set the stage for the 2004 NHL Trade Deadline…

The 2002 Blackhawks rode the tight ship of Brian Sutter to a 5th seed in the playoffs and General Manager Mike Smith somehow put together a team that won more games than they lost. Seriously, look at this team. Winning more than losing was a remarkable feat for the veteran GM during his time in the Windy City. However, the Hawks’ moves prior to the 2002 deadline highlighted the ineptitude that would eventually get Smith fired at the beginning of the 03-04 season.

In 2001-2002, the Blackhawks were near the middle of the pack in both goals for and goals against, but were abysmal on the penalty kill. They finished the year 27th in the league at 81.47%. Smith attempted to shore up the PK before the playoffs by moving a riskier, offensive defenseman (Jaroslav Spacek) and a second round pick for 33 year-old aircraft carrier Lyle Odelein. Odelein joined a blue line that already featured 36 year-old Joe Reekie, 37 year-old Phil Housley, 33 year-old Steve Poapst, 30 year-old Chris McAlpine, 31 year-old Alexander Karpovtsev, and 26 year-old Vladimir Chebaturkin (who would never play another season in the NHL). There may not have been an older/worse/slower group of defensemen in Blackhawks history.

Cryin’ Odelein.

So yeah, that team sucked and was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by St. Louis in 5 games.

The following year the Sutter magic wore off, and as the 2003 trade deadline approached it was obvious that the Hawks needed to blow everything up and rebuild. Smith basically held a garage sale and moved Housley, Odelein, Sergei Berezin, Andrei Nikolishin, Michael Nylander, and Stumpy Thomas for draft picks and other, lesser-known bad players. Only one of those picks was ever a useful thing for Chicago – Troy Brouwer.

Obviously, the 2003-2004 Blackhawks were going to be terrible and Bob Pulford got the itch to make awful decisions in the front office for a few months again, so Chicago fired Smith and Pully took over.

Shockingly, Ol’ Pully’s moves that year were not that crappy – some of that may have to do with the fact that Dale Tallon was assisting him. The Alex Zhamnov trade led the Hawks to nab up the pick that would give them Ronnie Pickle and the rights to Colin Fraser, amongst other smaller deals that weren’t exactly losses for Chicago.

BUT. The big deal. The deal that might be the best trade in Chicago Blackhawks history was the one that occurred on March 9th, 2004. We’ll let Pat Foley take you through this one:

Now, listen, the fact that Pulford and Tallon got anything for Alex Karpovtsev was remarkable. We all know that he sucked. But Pully managed to get a 2005 fourth round pick for a guy who ended up only playing in THREE games for the Islanders. Mike Milbury gave up less for Jason Blake a few years prior.

To say it was a fleecing is probably an overstatement. But what the Blackhawks did with that fourth round pick is select a defenseman who could currently would be a top pairing guy on many teams in the NHL. He’s got two Stanley Cups, a Silver Medal from Sochi, and a contract that I’d like to take out for a nice dinner. His name: Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Granted, the positioning of that draft choice had a lot to do with the Islanders making the playoffs as an 8 seed in ’04 and the stupid draft rules of a lockout year, but it sure is fun knowing that Mike Milbury kind of, sort of in a weird way traded Niklas Hjalmarsson for Alexander Karpovtsev.