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Tallon the one facing pressure to keep momentum going
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/21/2007 12:19 AM

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Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon was sitting only a few feet from John McDonough when the team's new president uttered the words that made the most sense at Tuesday's news conference announcing his hiring.

"The biggest challenge is to win," McDonough said. "Winning is the greatest marketing idea of all time."

Amen to that.

Give away all the free Hawks Beanie Babies you want, the best way to pack the United Center again is for Tallon to continue to assemble the type of entertaining team he has started to build.

It always starts with the players. Do you think there would be as much buzz about the Hawks in Chicago and throughout the NHL if rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews weren't electrifying talents?

This is why of all the people in the Hawks' front office, the guy with the most pressure on his shoulders to continue the momentum the rest of this season, into next and beyond is Tallon.

"We're not going to be impatient and panic," Tallon said. "We're going to shoot for the playoffs, but we're not going to mortgage the future just to get to the playoffs. What we're doing is we're continuing to build and get stronger as we move forward.

"We're on the right path to be successful, and when we do hit, we're going to stay there for a long time. That's the goal."

There's no reason why the Hawks can't make the playoffs with a tweak here and there, or even be a team that finishes in the top four or five. There's only one dominant team in the Western Conference -- the Detroit Red Wings -- and the Hawks have beaten them four times already.

The Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks are strong, but after that the Hawks can be as good as anyone in the West, provided Martin Havlat returns to health, Tallon adds a veteran defenseman and a forward, and goalies Nikolai Khabibulin and Patrick Lalime play better.

It should be known that Tallon is trying to make the Hawks better right now. A lot better. In fact, he has been one of the general managers in hot pursuit of free-agent center Peter Forsberg.

That's right. Tallon recently traveled to Finland to speak with Forsberg and watch him play for Sweden in the Karjala Cup -- an annual event between Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Unfortunately, Forsberg hurt his ankle again in a practice and pulled out of the tourney, putting his career in jeopardy. Ankle problems have nagged Forsberg to the point that he has needed surgery on both feet.

A number of teams would love to add Forsberg for the second half, Stanley Cup contenders Detroit and Ottawa among them.

While it's unlikely the former MVP would sign with the Hawks, a team source confirmed that Forsberg had been receptive to hearing about where the Hawks were as a team and where they might be going.

Hey, home games are on TV now and McDonough left the Cubs for the Hawks. So stranger things have happened than Tallon signing Peter Forsberg.