A VIEW FROM SLATS
Once again, we at Hockeenight have the distinct pleasure and honor of featuring the one and only Slats Radke as a contributor. As you may recall, Slats covered professional hockey for the Chicago American throughout the 1960s and early 70s. He has agreed to offer his unique insight upon occasion. So, with no further ado, Slats Radke:
One or the other of these goateed meat heads asked me if I could offer some insight into what the Blackhawks need to do to add toughness. I offered him a simple answer: Get hockey players.
When we're discussing the game of hockey, whether it be some little mites playing in a rink in Rolling Meadows, or the Canadiens, there should be no need to consider "adding" toughness. If you're playing the game of hockey, you're tough enough.
Look at guys like Mikita and Hull. Bobby Hull. Dennis was a nice guy to go out and have a few Rock & Ryes with, but when you say "Hull", there's really only one. And not the kid. Bobby. The dad.
Hull and Mikita took nothing from anybody. Yet they both managed to win Lady Byng trophies. You can be tough and still be a gentleman. Not that you can tell from any of the figure skaters passing themselves off as hockey players now. They might as well be playing croquet for all the real hockey they're playing.
I remember Bob Baun, blocking a shot from Gordie Howe in 1964, in the finals. Broke his ankle in Game 6. Baun still scored the game winner that night in overtime, and played Game 7, helping Toronto win the Stanley Cup. Believe me, nobody had to wonder then if teams needed to "add toughness".
For that matter, consider the source of the question. I sit down with these two meat heads, I try to talk to them like men. Instead of god hockey talk over some Rock & Rye, I've got one guy drinking seltzer and the other is jamming a piece of lime into his beer bottle. No wonder these guys need to ask about "adding toughness", they don't have any of their own.
There's a couple kids on this Blackhawks team that actually play the game the right way. I like this Burish fellow. He blocks shots, he drops the gloves even when he knows he's going to wind up on the short end. I like the little fellow with the high number too. Kane. He's not as fast, or big, or strong as Hull, but he doesn't shy away from the play like I see so many of these new players do. I'll like him and that Toews kid a lot more once they're old enough to drink.
Speaking of which, my glass is empty, and my column is done.