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Hawks already shopping Sharp
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 7/14/2009 11:42 PM | Updated: 7/14/2009 11:42 PM

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The Blackhawks have talked to Toronto about Patrick Sharp, among other clubs, according to a team source.

Where those discussions go now is unclear, but what is clear is that players like Sharp ($4 million), Dustin Byfuglien ($3 million), Kris Versteeg ($3 million) and Cam Barker ($3 million) are available because a movable contract today may not be movable a year from now if the player doesn't perform next season.

And contracts will have to be moved before 2010-11, the result of the Hawks' bungled salary-cap situation that threatens the future of their young core.

Between now and the fall of 2010, they'll need to move about $15 million worth of contracts in order to sign their big three RFAs and put together a full roster.

Are the kids OK?

The vultures will be circling next summer if new GM Stan Bowman can't move some big salaries and fix the mess he inherited from Dale Tallon.

Everyone assumes the Hawks will find a way to sign restricted free agents Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, but one NHL exec told me Tuesday that he thinks the Hawks are vulnerable to a double offer sheet, when two teams make separate offers to two different free agents.

It means one team could make a huge run at Toews, while another makes a big offer to Keith or Kane.

Depending on their finances, the Hawks might be able to afford only one and would be at risk of losing one - and perhaps even two - of those three players.

While today it seems unimaginable, if Bowman can't magically make salaries disappear, it could happen.

And if it does, how dry will be the tears shed for Dale Tallon, who gets paid to play golf for the next three years?

You need not look beyond that for the reason Tallon was fired. It's right there in the cap numbers for 2010-11.

Someone has to fix it, and John McDonough obviously didn't have confidence that Tallon was competent enough to do it.

The good

Dale Tallon did plenty of good things during his time in the front office, including his trade of Brandon Bochenski for Kris Versteeg and swapping free agent Marian Hossa for free agent Martin Havlat.

That last one was bold and brilliant, and he should be applauded for it.

The bad

You can win with a lot of money tied up in only a few players. Detroit has done it. Pittsburgh just did it.

But you can't if you don't know how to add role players - or keep them.

Tallon made many mistakes along those lines, like trading Travis Moen to Anaheim for Michael Holmqvist in 2005 and letting Shawn Thornton walk as a free agent in 2006. Both won a Cup with the Ducks.

Tallon made a dozen moves like it that hurt the Hawks because he never understood character and depth, or valued hitting and toughness.

Only in recent weeks, with Scotty Bowman involved, have the Hawks added some of those types of players.

Thornton, meanwhile, is Boston's policeman, looking out for the Bruins' stars for only $516,000 a year.

The Hawks have some fake toughness, but not a genuine heavy.

Hopefully, that changes, too.

And the ugly

The signings of Adrian Aucoin, Jassen Cullimore, Cristobal Huet, Brian Campbell, Nikolai Khabibulin, Brent Sopel and Dustin Byfuglien, to name just a few.

If you value character at all, Aucoin, Cullimore and Khabibulin never would have received those contracts.

The players

At times, Tallon's flaws were obvious even to his biggest fans, and if we had a nickel for every time he told us Jeff Hamilton, Tony Salmelainen or Denis Arkhipov would be a star in the NHL, we'd have a lot of nickels.

That was only two years ago, yet two of the three are out of the league, and Hamilton played 15 games for the Leafs last year.

The roster

When Tallon fired Trent Yawney for failing to play Salmelainen and Hamilton enough minutes, here's the team Yawney had on the ice for his final game, put together by the GM:

Brian Boucher in goal, with Lasse Kukkonen, Brent Seabrook, Keith, Jim Vandermeer, Cullimore and James Wisniewski on defense.

On offense he had Bryan Smolinski, Tuomo Ruutu and Carl Corazzini, Patrick Sharp, Salmelainen and Radim Vrbata, Arkhipov, Martin Lapointe and Holmqvist, and Craig MacDonald, Hamilton and Karl Stewart.

Tears for Tallon? He got a two-year extension. Yawney and Bill Gardner got a footprint in the rear on the way out the door.

The call

Tallon's a nice guy, and he has a lot of friends among the fans and media because he rubs elbows, tells funny stories and good jokes. No one denies he's excellent at shaking hands and kissing babies.

But he was handed the job and spent too much time figuring out a way to keep the job instead of doing the job.

Oliver Stone-ing

The rumors around the league - perhaps spread by someone close to Rick Dudley or Tallon - that John McDonough sabotaged Tallon by delaying the qualifying offers, is laughable.

McDonough didn't need another excuse to fire Tallon. It only sped up the process by a few months.

And finally -

E-mailer Mr. Buttermaker: "If you look at the free-agent signings Tallon made, you'd think you were reading an article in the Onion."

brozner@dailyherald.com