Another reason the Blackhawks should bring JR back is to try and repair the organization's reputation among the players as a club that does the right thing by its players. By enabling a superstar and future Hall of Fame player to finish his career with the club he hoped to, I think that the Blackhawks organization will be more appealing to free agents in the future. --Rachel Beyler, Chicago
That being said, though, I think it's very important for general managers to try and put together the best team possible and take emotion out of the equation. Aaron Rowand was one of Kenny Williams' favorite players, but he felt he had to trade him in order to make the White Sox a better team. It would have been easy to give Magglio Ordonez whatever he wanted as well.
So, I think the question that needs to be asked regarding JR is a simple one: Can he still play and where does he fit in? Is he a top-line center or even a second center--the two biggest needs for the Hawks? I don't think so and he hasn't shown anything for the last couple of years to prove otherwise. Is he a third-line center? Maybe. But will JR accept being a third-line center? Don't forget, this is someone who felt he belonged on the Olympic team. Maybe he did, but his numbers said otherwise.
The next thing that has to be considered is how much is he going to cost? JR made $4.9 million this season from the Kings. Clearly he's not going to get anywhere close to that kind of money anymore. Would he want to play for $500-600k? I doubt it and frankly I think the Hawks could get just as much production for that kind of money as they would get from JR.
Finally, after spending the winter in Los Angeles, I'm not sure he'd be willing to leave there. Maybe he feels he has something left to prove and doesn't want to end his career with a season such as this one. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if he decided to retire. I guess what I'm saying is, while it might be nice for old-time's sake, I'm not sure bringing JR back is the best move to get the Hawks back on track to being a competitive team.
But I certainly understand the reasons you list for doing it.
Although I'm only one of three people to see hope, at least on the blue line, I know the Hawks need serious help at forward. With the collapse of the Canucks, doesn't Todd Bertuzzi have to be available this summer? With their great need of a shakeup, and his desperate need for a change of scenery, would he even cost that much? Would the Hawks consider this? --Sam Fels, Chicago
Another very good question. Sam, I don't think there is any doubt that Bertuzzi is going to be available and Vancouver may not want much in return. He needs a change and probably needs to get out of Canada and the spotlight. As much as I hate to say it, the Hawks have fallen so far off the radar that he wouldn't have to worry about the spotlight as much if he were here.
But, I've never been a big Todd Bertuzzi fan--even before the idiotic incident with Colorado. He can certainly be an impact player and perhaps a 40-plus goal scorer. But it seems every time I see him he costs his team as much with stupid plays as he helps them. I guess it would depend on what Vancouver wanted in return. The Hawks are going to have to do something bold and take a risk in order to upgrade their skill to the point they can seriously consider the playoffs next season. If I had my choice, I would rather have Keith Tkachuk, but if Bertuzzi were the best forward available and I didn't have to pay a ransom, I wouldn't be opposed to it.
I think at this point, GM Dale Tallon will listen to any offer involving anyone, so yes, I think they would at least listen.
I am a former Chicagoan living in Denver and I have all but completely lost interest in the Blackhawks. The folks in Colorado laugh at the franchise. Is there really any hope of a turnaround in the near future, or should I just cut my losses and begin rooting for the Avalanche? --Steve Price, Denver
Steve, you and I both know that no matter what I say, you'll always be a Hawks fan, no matter how bad they are. You may not follow them as much, but you'll always check their scores and be ready to jump back in with both feet when they turn it around. Nothing wrong with that, that's the joy of being a sports fan. Also, there is no reason not to follow the Av's and even be a fan of theirs. It's a fun team to watch. But at our core, we always stick with the team we grew up watching, no matter how much we wish we didn't!
Now, is there a hope for a turnaround in the near future? Depends on your definition of near future. If they are going to make the playoffs next season, they need to find at least 30 more points somewhere. Is that a lot to ask? Sure is, especially in the West, which is much deeper than the East. Is it impossible? Not at all. I do think there are some things to be optimistic about--their young defensemen, they have some promising prospects that they can also use in potential trades, I still think they made the right move in signing Khabibulin and Ruutu is a potential star, if he can stay healthy.
I think Tallon is committed to his plan of building from within, so maybe next season is another out of the post-season, but they have to show improvement and at least be somewhere between 75-85 points. But enjoy the Av's while wearing your Hawks hat or sweater.
Will Eric Daze ever get back on the ice? Why aren't the Blackhawks releasing him to free up cap space if he can't play? --John Wineman, Refugio, Texas
John, I'm sorry to say that I think Eric Daze is finished, which is really too bad because he's a quality person who really could have done some damage in this new NHL. Even if the Hawks released him, they would still have to pay him the rest of his contract, which expires at the end of the season. With his being hurt all season and on injured reserve, they would have received relief from the salary cap. Having him this year had no effect on their cap space.
What is the point of the Chicago Blackhawks? Is there one? --Will, Chicago