Chicago, IL – The Chicago Blackhawks had a tough week last week when they lost arguably the league’s MVP – Patrick Kane. This reminded me of Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine in the cinema masterpiece Casablanca. A turn of events that was out of everyone’s control has Blaine stating “It seems destiny has taken a hand” 1
I’ve always said when destiny takes a hand slap it back with your free hand by taking control of the things that you can. That is exactly what the Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman did prior to the trade deadline.
The good thing is if there is one, is the timing of the Kane injury. Had Kane been injured a week later Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks would have been destiny’s victims rather than being in a position to take control and make statements.
As the trade deadline approached it was the LA Kings that actually set the market with their pickup of Carolina Hurricane’s Dman Sekera for a 1st round pick and a prospect.
Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks were supposedly in on Sekera yet listening to Bowman’s interview with the Chicago media he seemed almost giddy and sort of like the cat that ate all the cream which, is so unStan Bowman like it had me wondering what exactly was up his sleeves. You can see this interview on BHTV – http://video.blackhawks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=764316
Now I am a poker player. I fully appreciate the art of the bluff, gamesmanship, slow rolling, check raising and controlled aggressive play. In poker you try to sell your opponents a story, whether it is true or false it is in how you sell the story that makes or breaks winning a hand and negotiations is much like this.
Stan Bowman pulled up a chair and first stepped up to the poker table with a slow roll and check raise when he snagged seemingly out of nowhere Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Is it a gamble to bet on a 39 year old with previous health issues? Maybe, but if Timonen can stay healthy this maybe the biggest coo of the trade deadline. As I said I’m a poker player so I love a gamble and controlled aggressive play.
If you don’t know what slow rolling or check raising is watch the below YouTube final hand scene from the 1998 movie Rounders that illustrates this tactic when Matt Damon slow rolls and check raises John Malkovich’s character Russian mafia king Teddy KGB for all the nuts including Damon’s character’s life.
It has been said that this deal with the Flyers has been in the works for weeks before the trade deadline. Bravo Stan for slow rolling my respect for you which was always there just increased even more. Now I don’t know for certain that’s what Stan did but if so the man is brill. The Blackhawks pick up a proven defenseman who is not only solid but hungry which is what the Hawks need. Kudos go to Stan Bowman for not only filling a roster spot, but bringing in a respected, intelligent player who just may spark the teams hunger as well.
Timonen only came back to the NHL to try and win a Stanley Cup and everyone should be pulling for him to get that dream realized.
Stan Bowman was not done however, 24 hours or so later he snagged the big fish of this deadline Arizone Coyotes’ Antoine Vermette. Like Timonen, Vermette should fit in with the Hawks pretty well and give them a solid center which you can never have enough of come playoff time. Both Arizona and the Hawks got what they wanted with the Coyotes getting Klas Dahlbeck and a first round draft pick.
It seems the Boston Bruins were in on Vermette but did not want to give up as much which is similar to a re-raise in poker which the Bruins were not willing to call. So Vermette is now a Hawk.
For those worried about the draft picks given up there is something in the summer called free agency and more trades are likely where the Hawks can recoup some of these picks so settle down folks.
Most importantly these moves illustrate the Chicago Blackhawks demise is far from reality even with the loss of Patrick Kane. Stan Bowman showed to his team, coaches, fan base and the league in a matter of 48 hours that the Chicago Blackhawks are indeed trying to win another Stanley Cup and will go down swinging.
If the team stays focused, garners points and puts all the distractions aside they have an opportunity now to really make a good playoff run. If they can make it until Patrick Kane can come back, which I believe they can, there is no question that they will be a better team than before the Kane injury barring destiny taking a hand again.
1. 1942 film Casablanca release through Warner Brothers Studios based on the 1940s play Everyone comes to Rick’s written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
2. 1998 film Rounders released through Miramax studios written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman