Blackhawks at Oilers, G23, 09-10

This is Gilles Marotte. He was part of the famous “Esposito, Hodge, Stanfield to Boston” trade in 1967, a deal that changed the fortunes of the spoked B forever.

There are two things of note about Marotte: The Bruins traded him despite the fact that he’d had success paired with Bobby Orr. Harry Sinden felt that (despite being a punishing hitter) Marotte didn’t have the aptitude to play the defensive game and he also grew tired of hits that took the young blue out of position. His assessment proved true, as Marotte became a journeyman player while minor leaguer Dallas Smith capably filled in on the Orr pairing.

I posted this card because it points out a piece of Blackhawk trivia even old-timey fans may not know: the team name changed years ago.

If you read old articles right through the 70s, the “Chicago Black Hawks” is clearly the name of the team. The original nickname came from the team’s first owner, a World War 1 veteran who fought in the 333rd or “Blackhawk” machine gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry division during the “war to end all wars.”

They were named after Chief Black Hawk, who was a prominent individual in Illinois state history. The team’s name was often spelled both ways, but in my childhood the spelling on the card above was the most prevalent and certainly history books have the “Chicago Black Hawks” winning the Stanley in 1961. My guess is the name changed in the 1980′s.

I’m getting the feeling that what we are seeing this season is a year long evaluation by the current coaching staff. Yesterday’s news cycle surrounded comments from Tom Renney (on-ice) and Pat Quinn (off-ice) about Ales Hemsky’s practice habits. This is the sort of thing that sometimes happens with losing teams, with the coaching staff attempting to change culture. Will it work? Hell if I know. I don’t recall ever reading anything about Hemsky’s leadership abilities and can give you a long list of great players with simply awful practice habits but it is also true that some of the game’s greatest coaches were absolute grumps when a practice wasn’t going well.

I believe Pat Quinn will be the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers in due time. I believe that this season will end badly for Steve Tambellini. I believe Kevin Lowe is still in charge and I believe Daryl Katz is a long way from being the kind of owner he’d like to be and we pray for every night. Which is fine, but instead of being frustrated about missing the playoffs in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and 2010 I think it might be more beneficial to talk about “the kids” and “development.”

This edition of the Edmonton Oilers remains more about development than winning. We’ll know things have changed when the massive weaknesses of this roster (one of which Pat Quinn pointed out wonderfully in his defense of Tom Gilbert–the centers not named Horcoff don’t know what the hell they’re doing) are addressed with veteran replacements.

We wait.

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