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reader Q&A

Bob Foltman's answers

The Tribune's Blackhawks writer answers readers' questions throughout the NHL season.

November 25, 2002

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Hey Bob. I was at the game vs. the Panthers (as were quite a few Hawk fans) and was stunned that the referee didn't review the disallowed goal in overtime. What warrants video review? Can teams request such a review, or is it solely the discretion of the referee? Thanks! --John Hepokoski, Miami

John, video review is used to see if the puck crossed the goal line completely and should be a called a goal. In this instance, Paul Stewart ruled that there was contact between Kyle Calder and Jani Hurme. In that case, a goal is waved off. It's a judgement call by the referee, just like it's the referee's judgement to call a penalty or not. In Stewart's opinion, the contact was incidental, by rule a goal should be disallowed because of that. It's up to the referee to determine if a penalty is warranted. But video review is only used to determine whether the puck crossed the goal line.

Bob, I have a couple of related questions:

1. How to you think the players will react to Theo Fleury's return, especially if he gets special treatment from Sutter & management, but continues to take dumb penalties or otherwise hurts the team?

2. Sutter seems to have the team playing with synergy again this year with the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Still, I think they lack a consistent finisher, and a top tier goalie like Kolzig or Khabiboulin to seriously contend. Daze and Fleury's return may help and if Thibault continues his hot streak into the playoffs, I'll be happy. But what do you see as the Hawks greatest need to be a legitimate, serious contender for the Cup?
--Fred Taylor, St. Catharines, Ontario

Fred, I think how the players react to Theo's return--whenever that is--depends on Theo. If he comes back and plays well and stays out of trouble, the players will welcome him back. He can provide a big lift to the team if he plays the way he is capable of playing. If he comes back and messes up again off the ice, it won't matter, he'll be suspended for the rest of the season and it won't take the players long to get over it. If there was a good time for him to be suspended, it was when it was. It's not as if they have counted on him to carry the offense and be an integral part of the team.

I think if Thibault continues to play the way he has played, if they can improve the power play just a little bit and somehow finish among the top four in the conference and get home-ice in the first round, they can at least win a round. There are no teams in the West that stand out as head and shoulders above the rest--even Detroit--and there is going to be at least one good team that isn't going to make the playoffs. It's very wide open.

Bob, in your opinion, who has made the biggest difference in this organization, Smith or Sutter? --Howie Jelinski, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Howie, tough question. I think last season Sutter did an incredible job getting 96 points out of team that was offensively challenged. This team is a better team, there is more depth, more scoring. Smith should be credited for that. So, I think they should get equal credit.

Just how long do the Hawks have to sign Tuomo Ruttu? Will they lose their rights to him if he is not signed by a certain date? --Mike Dymond, London, Ontario

Mike, because Ruutu is a European-born player, the Hawks hold his rights until he is 31 years old. It's one of the quirks of the collective bargaining agreement that gives just about all the leverage to the team.

Bob, although it got little media attention, I thought picking up Marshall Johnston from Ottawa was one of the Hawks most interesting off-season acquisitions. Would you agree? How do the Hawks plan to use him? --Jim Schwartz, Huntington Woods, Mich.

Jim, I agree. Johnston put together some pretty good teams in Ottawa. The Hawks plan to use him as a sort of super scout. He was recently in Europe. He'll scout other NHL teams and also evaluate the Hawks' prospects in the minors.

Thanks.