Contrary to popular belief, there were not throngs of fans lined up at the United Center box office Monday to purchase tickets upon hearing news of the Blackhawks acquiring defenseman Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg and dealing enforcer John Scott to the New York Rangers at the NHL trade deadline.
In fact, it was quite the opposite as fans voiced their displeasure using virtually every outlet available — from Twitter to radio talk shows.
Because it was common knowledge heading into Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline that the Hawks desperately needed a second-line center and/or a reliable, top-four defenseman to bolster a team that has been teetering more than Karl Wallenda in 40 mph winds.
But by the time the deadline came and passed the Hawks had secured one, maybe, but definitely not the other.
So, fans who wanted a blockbuster, a shake-up, instead got a move to add some depth on defense with the 30-year-old Oduya.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder averaged the fifth-most minutes of playing time among Winnipeg defenders and had 2 goals and 11 assists and was minus-9 in 63 games with the Jets this season.
“I’m very excited to add Johnny; his style really fits in with what we do here,” said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman. “He’s one of the better skating defensemen in the NHL. He’s going to come in and be a calming influence on some of our players.
“We could use that experience. Solidifying the back end was something we’ve talked about for a long time.”
Originally selected by the Washington Capitals in the 2001 NHL entry draft, Oduya signed with the Devils as a free agent in 2006 and was later traded to Atlanta as part of the transaction that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey.
He represented Sweden at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
“The Blackhawks are a Cup contender every year, a really good team, and it’s a great place to play,” Oduya said. “It’s a tough arena for opponents to come in and play; I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s a great hockey town.”
Bowman said he tried to make other deals as well, but the market just wasn’t there.
“More teams are in the mix (to make the playoffs), so there are not as many sellers,” he said. “We saw a lot of teams just pull back. We were open to anything.”
Scott, perhaps the most intimidating presence in the league, was sent to the New York Rangers for a fifth-round pick. He had 1 assist and 48 penalty minutes in 32 games this season.
“We’re sad to see John Scott go, but at the same time we’re excited to get a fifth-round pick for John,” Bowman said. “If you look back at our last couple of drafts, we’ve had a lot of success with our fifth-round picks.
“Although it’s not a first-round pick, with our scouting staff I think we can turn that into a good asset.”
That’s all well and good down the line, but the most pressing question right now for the Hawks is whether they can survive the 4-11-1 skid they’re in and get back to the same level of play they were at before this bad spell?
“Oh, absolutely,” Bowman said. “I’m very confident in the team. This (trade) is going to give us a big boost in the short term, and then if you add (injured players like Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson), we’ve got a very strong group here.”
One that’s strong enough to win the Stanley Cup?
“I believe we do,” Bowman said. “There’s a lot to be excited about.”
The Hawks on Monday recalled forward Andrew Shaw from Rockford. Shaw, 20, has 5 goals, 9 points and 18 penalty minutes in 19 games. … Stan Bowman said Jonathan Toews’ condition remains “status quo” and that there should be an update after today’s practice at Johnny’s Ice House.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.