Columnist

Gambling on Forsberg too risky for Blackhawks

 
 
Published: 2/14/2008 12:08 AM

Give Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon credit for his continued pursuit of free-agent center Peter Forsberg, but it would seem there are much better ways to spend the millions it would take to take to secure the former MVP.

While it's believed Forsberg would prefer to sign with a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup right now --if he decides to even play again -- the Hawks are in the picture because of their financial flexibility beyond this season.

Forsberg has told the Hawks he hopes to play for a few more years if he can skate on his gimpy feet and ankles, and it's likely the deal Tallon has presented Forsberg is for at least two years past this one, perhaps in the neighborhood of $5 million a year.

That would be a bargain for Forsberg if he were still in his prime, but this is a 34-year-old veteran who can't stay healthy. Forsberg has had one foot or ankle problem after another, and the only reason he is taking his time to sign with anyone is he isn't sure his feet can hold up.

Is this a risk the Hawks want to take just when things are starting to turn around for the franchise? You would think not.

Too many free-agent gambles by Tallon haven't worked, starting with Adrian Aucoin and including Nikolai Khabibulin.

Tallon admitted recently that Khabibulin has played so-so since signing the biggest contract in franchise history in 2005 worth $27 million over four years. Aucoin signed a four-year, $16 million deal the same year and was a total bust for two seasons before Tallon got lucky and unloaded him on Calgary last summer.

With millions to spend on free agents this summer, one would think Tallon is in the market for sure things. Forsberg is no sure thing. In fact, he's a major risk.

Tallon should stick to his plan for this off-season when the Hawks are expected to throw millions at free-agent defensemen Brian Campbell and Dan Boyle along with a top-six winger, and forget about Forsberg.

It was a nice thought, though.

Deal or no deal: The Feb. 26 trade deadline is fast approaching, and it's known around the NHL the Hawks are shopping Martin Lapointe, Yanic Perreault and Andrei Zyuzin. All three veterans will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

But do the Hawks really need to trade Lapointe? It wouldn't seem so.

Maybe Lapointe could bring back a mid- to late-round draft pick, but wouldn't he be more valuable in the dressing room the rest of the season even if the Hawks have no plans to bring him back in the fall?

Jonathan Toews looks up to Lapointe and is learning every day from the veteran how to be a captain. That's pretty important. Why not just let that learning process run its course.

Makes no sense: We've all seen the horrific replay of Florida's Richard Zednick getting his throat slashed by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen. Terrible stuff.

As the father of a youth hockey player, such an injury is my greatest fear. It's a miracle it doesn't happen more often.

So if you have a son or daughter playing hockey and they don't wear a neck guard, please put one on. Yes, they are uncomfortable, but it could be a matter of life and death.