Barry Rozner Thinks We're Dumb
It's hard to believe there was a time when Barry Rozner was probably the best columnist in the Chicago area.
He used to write good, solid columns, spraying to all fields, giving a little info on each team in town, and managed to be entertaining while doing it. But sometime around 2003, Rozner started to lose his mind. He had always had a tendency to tilt at windmills, and fixate on certain perceived moral injustices. At first, I just thought it was a quirk of his. I mean, if Rozner wanted to spend 3 years trying to get Ben Christiansen drummed out of the Cubs organization, that was his business. Clearly Christiansen was a dick, and turned out to be a bust of a draft pick. And if he wanted to spend the winter of 2003-4 acting as Scott Boras' mouthpiece during the Cubs negotiations with Greg Maddux, so be it. Maddux was a good guy, and we all wanted him on the Cubs anyway. But sometime after that, Rozner suffered overload. Maybe it was the presence of too many targets: Scott Skiles, Kirk Hinrich, Brian Sutter, Lovie Smith, Rex Grossman, Dusty Baker, Aramis Ramirez, all had felt Rozner's ire at some point in the last few years. But why should I care? I could just stop reading Rozner right? No loss, just another in a long line of Chicago sports columnists descended into Marriotihood.
But there's a catch. One of the reasons I read Rozner was he was the only columnist who regularly gave any sort of ink to the Blackhawks. Sure, each paper has a beat guy (Rozner's mate Tim Sassone being the best by a wide margin in my opinion), but Rozner wrote about the Hawks when he could have written about anything. In fact, I'm sure at that point, his editor was begging him to cut the inches he gave to the Hawks and replace it with anything else, even extra Alex Kaseberg jokes.
So what's my beef with Rozner? Sure, he still covers the Hawks, but now his coverage seems to insinuate that he knows something we all don't. Take his article on Scotty Bowman's hiring. While he likes the move, he spends most of his time trying to tear down last season for some reason.
"So after nearly 10 months of cheerleading and jersey-raising, ticket selling and marketing, which amounted to nothing in the way of on-ice improvement, Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough may have proved Thursday that they weren't just paying lip service to the idea of winning."
Look, if you've been paying attention to Roz, you know a large part of his is due to the Hawks firing of his boy-toy Trent Yawney. That's why he turned on Tallon, and that's why he hates Savard. Barry was sure Trent Yawney was the next great NHL head coach. Maybe the Hawks will regret Yawney's firing, but I doubt it. And either way, to claim that there's been no on-ice improvement is nothing less than a bald-faced lie. Take a look at 2007-08 versus the two previous seasons:
|Season||Wins||Points||Goals For||Goals Against|
The Hawks are 9 wins and 17 points better than the previous year. And after two years of putrid defense, they managed to chop 50 goals off their goals against total, while scoring nearly 30 more than last season. That would appear to be "on-ice improvement". But, never let the facts get in the way of a really good grudge.
Rozner's also worried about the Hawks current salary issues:
"They're desperately trying to remove two of their biggest busts, yet most highly praised and expensive acquisitions, in Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat"
He refers to the Havlat and Khabi acquisitions as "highly praised". Interestingly, I'm pretty sure those acquisitions were highly praised by one Barry Rozner (along with Adrian Aucoin's signing) back in 2005. See, in 2005, Barry thought everything was hunky dory. Peter Wirtz was going to totally change the Blackhawks front office. Roz loved him some Peter Wirtz. Probably because Peter would let Rozner into his office and talk to him, which usually resulted in a printed blow job for Wirtz in the following day's paper. Wirtz and Tallon were spending money, and had hired Trent Yawney! They were the best! Roz sang their praises from the mountain top. And of course, he was betrayed when it turned out that Bill Wirtz and Bill Pulford were still around.
And then of course, there's this:
"For too long, we've been asking - pleading with, actually - the "new'' Hawks to demonstrate that winning, not just selling tickets, matters for the first time in our lifetime."
Basically, Barry's saying that the fans are idiots for showing up to games, because the Hawks aren't actually any better (how could they be, without Trent Yawney?) than they were the last two years. We were tricked into going to the UC last year, duped by John McDonough's slick marketing plan. Can't you see that? It's people! CONNIE'S PIZZA IS PEOPLE!
I'm not sure how Rozner got so out of step with Hawks fans. I mean, the fans didn't suddenly flock back to the United Center because Bill Wirtz was dead. The team took steps to right some wrongs with the old guard for sure, but in the end, the reason fans came back was that the Blackhawks put a young and exciting team on the ice. Sure, maybe some fans came to watch Mikita, Hull and Espo wave from the luxury boxes, but they stayed to watch Toews, Kane and Keith play some damn good hockey. And those young guys are the reason the fans came back for more. And I don't think John McDonough believes that selling tickets is more important than winning.
Because John McDonough knows that NOTHING sells tickets like winning.
So spare us your warnings, Barry. Maybe instead of railing against the current regime, you should come out and watch a game or two. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself.