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Hawk Talk: In Dale's Defense

Tuesday, 12.05.2006 / 10:03 AM / News
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Hawk Talk: In Dale\'s Defense

Writing a column for chicagoblackhawks.com might make you think it's a requirement to defend the GM of the team. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dale Tallon, as the saying goes, "is a big boy." He can take the heat and certainly doesn't need me to defend him in order to sleep well at night. In fact, Dale probably "takes the heat" better than anyone I've come across in this business. Maybe he learned it from his days in the media or maybe he's just honest to a fault.

If I had to advise an athlete or front office person, I'd tell them this: Simply admit your mistakes and move on. It diffuses a lot. Trying to hide or blame others only fuels the fire. Dale has admitted his mistakes and continues to move on.

Of course the down side to all this honesty is if you admit TOO many mistakes, pretty soon you'll be fixing up your resume. In Dale's case, probably more like his driver.

The point to all of this is people still seem to be confused by what Dale does. There should be little confusion as he has basically stated why things have gone the way they have. You may not agree but at least you understand. I do, anyway.

The question I hear more than any is why was Trent Yawney hired in the first place if after 100 games you'd let him go for an assistant that was there all along. On the surface, it's not a bad question. The answer lies in the same answer Dale has given since about a quarter of the way through last year: He didn't anticipate just how much the rule changes would affect the game.

He also wanted to give Trent a chance to coach the young players he brought along while in the minors, as well as work with the other young players on the way. At some point it looks like Dale felt they weren't getting enough from these young players AND with the rules stressing aggressive offensive play, it's not a stretch to believe Savvy might be the right guy for the job.

Again, all of this stems from Dale admitting he needed to fix things after seeing how the new rules affected the game. That's why there's been so much turnover since the beginning of last year, even with the head coach.

Now this isn't to say Trent Yawney can't coach. Last week I wrote that he certainly was dealt a tough hand with the obvious injuries that destroyed their offense. I also stated my doubts whether this new aggressive style would leave Nikolai Khabibulin on an island for many more odd man chances.

That's the worry with this new approach. It allows for less play in the Hawks own zone, but invites more odd man rushes, especially if there's a bad turnover near the offensive blueline or high in the opponents zone.

This is why Denis Savard intimated the reliance on Khabibulin. He might be faced with tougher scoring chances coming at him at high speeds. The way I see it, the Hawks traded more time in their own zone for the chance at some more odd man rushes against.

The benefit, of course, is less time in your own zone means fewer scoring opportunities and fewer penalties by chasing the puck in your own end. And, of course, it also means more scoring chances the other way because, well, you're not in your own end as much.

You know what? So far, it has worked to near perfection. The Hawks are not turning over the puck and are not playing in their own zone as much. That's why the shots against have come down and why the scoring has gone up.

Nine goals in the last two games and, yeah, there have been some fluky ones and a couple were empty-netters, but why do you think those are happening now? The Hawks are putting themselves in a better position to get those breaks.

Denis Savard has had a major impact on this team in that regard. Time will tell if this strategy will work with this personnel, but for now it looks like Dale Tallon may not have to admit a mistake for some time.

Email Blackhawks pre- and post-game radio host Jesse Rogers at jrogers@chicagoblackhawks.com.