Friday, September 08, 2006
In a true Hall of Fame, a collection of the truly elite, Steve Larmer would not belong but when you look at some of the latest inductees, then this guy, one of the most complete players of his era or any era, should be there.
He played at a high level at both ends of the rink, came up big in big games, was a big contibutor to a Canada Cup victory in 1991 and a Stanley Cup in 1994. He was a consistent player who came to play every night, literally, as he had an ironman streak of @ 800 games at one point iirc.
The reason I am talking about Larmer is that he is everything that is good about hockey.
And his former franchise, where he played most of his career, and his former boss, one of those ex-Leafs who is in the HHOF because he is an ex-Leaf (hello Dick Duff), are everything that is rotten about it.
As a Blackhawks fan since I was @ 3 until I was @ 33, I can tell you that any complaint you have about your team can be trumped by how Bob Pulford and Bill Wirtz have destroyed a once great franchise.
Bob Pulford is Mike Milbury but he has been there for 30 years.
The Hawks' record of drafting from the early 80s when they had a nice run until the late 90s was so bad that they had a stretch of @ 15 years where after Larmer, Savard, Secord et al they had but one player who scored over 20 goals for them until Eric Daze turned the trick. Indeed other then Roenick and Belfour, the Hawks drafted so poorly that, well, they drafted nobody. So bad indeed that the Oilers' drafts of the 90s look positively New Jersey like by comparison.
And on top of that the refusal to pay guys like Belfour, Larmer and Roenick and the failure to get anything in return for them of any value. While having the money to be able to retain the top players in the first place.
A fan can forgive mistakes. Bad drafts happens. The wrong youngster gets thrown in on a deal for a bigname player. A fan can forgive moving players near the end for value (Denis Savard) or just because its time (Doug Wilson).
But wilful neglect. No sir.
Friends ask me when it happened - the change of allegiance. I had always been a fan of the Oilers - loved their flair - and was living in the States when it looked like they would not survive long. I had adopted them as a second team, cheering for a true underdog in those series against Dallas where they always fell short. And one day watching the Hawks/Oilers on ESPN I realized I was cheering for Edmonton. It was as simple as that. All of those years of fandom, through years of mediocrity in the 70s, that exciting go-go team of the 80s, the near miss in 92 and the years after that. Killed dead by two old men.
Seeing Keenan forced out by old Bob after finally reviving the franchise after years of neglect. Seeing Larmer leave. Belfour. Roenick.
Wirtz and Pulford didn't care and so neither did I.
The ironic thing is that years later with empty seats by the thousands and hockey dead in Chicago Wirtz is spending money. And they can't even do that right.
Havlat is a real sweetheart and scored a lot of goals playing behind Alfie and Hossa in Ottawa. We'll see how he handles facing the Prongers and Pahlsons, the Hannans, Reghyrs and Horcoffs rather then the softies he's used to.
Some nice young D and I like Aucoin, though not for that contract. But goaltending is a black hole and up front ...
Daze is done and it appears Ruutu may be too - even when the Hawks do something right it turns to shit.
And as Vic said recently there seems to be a disconnect between the front office and what is happening on the ice.
You have two good players in Calder and Bell and trade them for Havlat and Handzus - so you are getting less but paying more.
Stupid stupid stupid.
The Blackhawk way.
Posted by Black Dog at 11:27 AM