The Mailbag: Concern About The Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews is going to miss Brandon Bollig, apparently

Jonathan Toews is going to miss Brandon Bollig, apparently

Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.

If you’d like to submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag it’s pretty simple. Either ask the question on Twitter using the #AskTCH hashtag — as long as you use the hashtag I will see it — or send an email to

And now that you know how to do it, let’s get to the this week’s questions.

A somewhat abbreviated version of the mailbag this week, which I was expecting. I did the NFL Draft mailbag on Thursday, and I guess you folks just didn’t have a lot of questions left in you. Which is fine because I’ve written a lot of words about the draft in recent days — 13 posts on TCH since the draft began — and I could use a bit of a break.

So let’s get to the questions, and we’ll start with that team that’s in the playoffs right now.

Get back to me after tonight’s game.

Honestly, right now, I’m not too worried. I’m not happy, as I came into this series expecting the Blackhawks to have a relatively easy time of it, and win in five games. Now, after four games, it’s become apparent to me that, while I never thought the Wild sucked, I also underestimated them.

They have been a total pain in the ass the last two games.

All that said, the Blackhawks haven’t lost a home game yet, and as long as that trend holds, they’ll move on. I typically don’t get worried about a series until the other team has three wins. At that point, when your back is against the wall, that’s when I worry.

I still think the Hawks are going to get past Minnesota, but what worries me is what happens if they do get past the Wild. The Kings look really good so far this postseason, and the Blackhawks team that has struggled with Minnesota the last two games will have an even harder time with the Kings.

The Kings are just as good defensively as the Wild are, but with legitimate offensive talent to go with it. Oh, and a much, much, much better goalie.

By the time it’s all said and done, will this two-game suspension be the greatest thing Brandon Bollig has ever done for the Blackhawks? — Will in Plainfield

Yes, for those of you who haven’t heard, Brandon Bollig has been suspended for two games following his boarding penalty against the Wild Friday night. I’ve never been happier about a suspension, because Bollig has been just about worthless for a while now, but Quenneville keeps sending him out there any way.

Now Quenneville can’t.

Will it be his greatest contribution, though? Yeah, sure, why not. Just watch the Blackhawks get back to playing the way they normally do tonight.

Adam Dunn is a big man. He’s listed at 6’6 and 285 pounds. That’s defensive tackle size.

Carlos Zambrano is not small, himself, as he was listed at 6’4 and 275 pounds.

So when it comes to the tale of the tape, we’re pretty even. But the fight isn’t won on tape, nor the tale it tells. The fight is won based on which one is crazier, and while Adam Dunn is bigger, Carlos Zambrano is crazier. We’ve all seen what Zambrano can do to a Gatorade cooler, or any inanimate object in the dugout, so we know what he’s capable of.

Sure, none of those things ever hit back, and it’s entirely possible that Dunn could run into Zambrano the way he runs into a fastball from time to time, but I’m putting my money on Big Z. Adam Dunn is just too damned nice.

There have been rumors of Randy Lerner selling Aston Villa for the last month or so and it’s been the thing that’s made me more optimistic than anything else in my sports fan sphere. Is there anything more exciting to fans than the possibility of a new owner coming in and immediately getting the organization moving in the right direction (a la Rocky Wirtz)? — Connor from Madison

A quick way to become one of my favorite readers is to ask me a question about Aston Villa so I have a chance to rant about them in long form. You’re the best, Connor.

As an Aston Villa fan, no, I don’t think there’s anything more exciting. In fact, if you are a soccer fan, unless you’re rooting for one of the blue bloods, I think that’s basically what soccer fandom is about. You suffer for as long as you can, hoping that one day, some rich bastard with entirely too much money will come around and buy the team.

Sure, every once in a while a lower money team can sneak up and fight for a spot in the Europa League, and maybe even flirt with the Champions League, but there are no Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics in soccer. It’s what I’ve always found ironic about soccer in Europe.

In Europe the most popular sport in the world is also the most capitalist sport in the world. If you have money, you’re going to win, and if you don’t have money, you’re going to lose. Oh, and if you lose too badly you’re going to get kicked out of the league so the teams that did well in the lower leagues can come up and get a chance to lose too.

Meanwhile in the United States our most popular sport is as socialist as socialism can be. The NFL shares everything equally. Didn’t win a game? No problem, here are your billions of dollars. Thanks for just being you.

But, yes, I’ve spent most of the last few weeks waiting to hear that Aston Villa has been sold to some billionaire that wants a shiny new toy to prove his magnificence. It’s been the most excited I’ve been about anything concerning Aston Villa this season.

If you’re Jeff Samardzija how hard are you pushing for a trade right now? – Krieger

It happened again last night!

In his eight starts for the Cubs this season Samardzija has allowed 12 runs and 43 hits in 56 innings. He’s also struck out 45 batters while walking only 16. Simply put, he’s been fucking phenomenal.

But in those eight starts the Cubs have scored seven runs in support of him. That’s right, the Cubs offense is giving Samardzija .875 runs of support per start.

Hell yes if I was Jeff Samardzija I’d want to leave, and you know why? Because the Cubs are costing him money. Now, I know that most smart baseball fans realize that a pitcher’s win-loss record is an extremely flawed stat. Just look at Samardzija. He’s currently second among all MLB pitchers in WAR this year, but he’s now 0-3.

Well, Samardzija can’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season, and that means he’s eligible for arbitration one more time this winter, which means his salary will be based on his win-loss record, as well as his ERA.

No matter what we know about pitcher wins, when it comes to arbitration, they still matter. If Samardzija was being paid on par with pitchers worth an equal amount of WAR as he is he’s probably be looking at $12-$15 million next season. Instead, at the rate things are going right now, he’d be lucky to get $10 million.

So you’re damn right I’d be pushing for the trade. If the Cubs aren’t going to give me the contract I can get on the open market, I’d want to get as much as I could while I could.

That’s not going to happen pitching for the Cubs.

Were you surprised neither Illinois or Northwestern had players drafted? – Eric Stone

No, not really. While Northwestern has had a lot of success in recent years, it hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of NFL talent. As for Illinois, the Illini had actually had more players drafted in recent years than any other Big Ten school before this draft, but that talent pipeline dried up last year.

The only player on either team I thought had a legit shot of being drafted was Illinois’ Jonathan Brown, but I didn’t think he’d be taken before the sixth round because he’s a ‘tweener on the NFL level.

But, yeah, any time there’s at least one player drafted from Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Illinois State, but nobody from Illinois or Northwestern are taken, that’s not a good look.


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