(All, I am no longer HB28, but my real name. Nice to meet you)
I just got done responding on Al Cimaglia's blog with regard to Denis Savard's system.
Make no mistake, Savard-Bashers. He has a system. He has a vision. And it's working.
As a Hawk fan, it's very easy to be cynical about any member of the front office or staff who comes from within the ranks. For years, that's how it was done at 1800 West Madison: reward loyalty over performance, don't argue with Bob Pulford. When the Hawks did look outside the organization, it was with disastrous consequences: Mike Smith, Alpo Suhonen, etc.
I will visit Dale Tallon later. For now, let me say this about Savard. His outspoken criticism of players is fair and accurate. And he is just as quick to praise.
As far as his line-juggling, what would any coach do with the injuries and young players Savard has to deal with? Plus, some of his juggling has provided results.
Back to his system. Savard is trying to implement a system that is a combination of puck control with a very aggressive, physical forecheck. Why? This is precisely the system it takes to beat the elite teams in the West. If you can skate with Detroit and outhit them, you can beat them (The Hawks and St. Louis have proven this). If you can hit with Anaheim and outskate them, you can beat them.
This also why Savard has at different times played Dustin Byfuglien, Tuomo Ruutu and even Adam Burish on his top line with Lang and Havlat. He wants a physical, yet mobile, disruptive presence to create mayhem and turnovers.
And it's why I think Byfuglien can be a game-changer as a forward in Savard's system, as opposed to an offensively-gifted, but sloppy d-man in any system.
In French, 'savoir faire' means literally: to know, to do.
Denis Savard has earned the nickname because he knows what he's doing.