Rozner: Blackhawks' Shaw too expensive for his own good

  • Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw, left, celebrates after scoring against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen during the first period of Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference finals.

    Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw, left, celebrates after scoring against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen during the first period of Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference finals. Associated Press/May 2015

 
 
Updated 6/25/2016 8:00 PM

Andrew Shaw is a valuable hockey player.

He's fast, plays hard, gets to the net, takes a beating, annoys the opposition and hits everyone he can get near.

 

It's not popular anymore to admit it, but like it or not, teams need players like Shaw.

The Blackhawks needed a player like him, a player with heart.

But it's not like he has an abundance of talent. From a skill standpoint, frankly, there's nothing he does all that well.

His best attribute might be that he's willing to fight for space in front of the net and can tip pucks past goaltenders with virtually any part of his anatomy.

The truth, however, is that Shaw is a mediocre talent and the Hawks couldn't afford his asking price.

He was a fan favorite on a small, soft team that had few gritty players, and Shaw -- despite being only 5-foot-11, 180 pounds -- played like one of the Hawks' biggest players.

And Hawks fans will miss him.

GM Stan Bowman tried to sign him, but Shaw thought he was worth more than the Hawks were willing to pay, and that's why he's in Montreal today, in part because he was a victim of the salary cap, but also because he put too high a price on his limited ability.

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Joel Quenneville will not be happy that Bowman could not retain one of the coach's favorite players, though they did trade Teuvo Teravainen in hopes of having enough cap space going forward to keep Shaw around, and they did about all they could to keep Shaw in Chicago.

But this will be a tough one for Quenneville to swallow.

After the Hawks were eliminated by St. Louis, Quenneville talked about the summer of uncertainty, but made his case for Shaw.

"Every year you can talk about the situation we're in. Are certain guys irreplaceable? And there's some real tough decisions we have to make," Quenneville said on April 27. "Every year, some cases are tougher than others.

"(Shaw's) argument is as tough as you're ever gonna get because he brings so much to the table that you appreciate. He's an irreplaceable guy in that regard."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Shaw did play in a lot of situations, but the talk is that he wanted $5 million a year and the Hawks just couldn't afford a fourth-line player making that much money after the cap went up less than $2 million.

Sure, he played on all four lines at times because Quenneville was so fond of him, but Shaw is really a bottom-line winger.

Andrew Ladd is a much better player who can actually play on the Hawks' top line, and if this means they can find the cash to re-sign Ladd, that's more important for the Hawks.

The intention here is in no way to denigrate Shaw, because he's a respected player and he played in a lot of different situations for the Hawks, always giving the team everything he had.

But he wanted to get paid like a second-line player, and the Hawks simply didn't have the cap space to get that done.

That's life in Gary Bettman's salary cap world, where the mismanaged get the benefit when good teams develop players and can't afford to keep them.

So add Shaw's name to the list of players the Hawks have lost because they are good, an absurd contradiction if there ever were one.

They consistently produce quality players and winning seasons and Stanley Cup titles, and when you do that you have to pay your best players a huge portion of their cap.

That leaves precious few dollars for role players like Shaw, who will be replaced by someone younger, cheaper and eager to fill the role of popular pest.

The Hawks will find one and the fans will adore him, though they won't soon forget the important goals Shaw scored, and the important place Shaw had on Stanley Cup winning teams.

Overpriced on his way out the door, Andrew Shaw will not be undervalued in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.

Certainly, not any time soon.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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