The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are featured prominently in an otherwise quiet NHL summer rumor mill. Both teams face moving players before the new season begins in October, though for different reasons.
For the Bruins, it’s dealing with a surplus of defensemen. The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reports they’re carrying nine NHL-caliber blueliners in Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky.
GM Peter Chiarelli stated several times this summer he can’t go into the season carrying that many defenders. Though Chiarelli is in no hurry to address the problem, Benjamin believes one or two players will be shed by October.
One option could be demotion, as Benjamin suggests Warsofsky could spend another season with the Bruins farm team in Providence. A trade is also possible, with Boychuk and Bartkowski as candidates.
News and views from the meager scraps left by the hockey world in a very slow middle of July:
News: Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson says the organization is trying to figure out, “the right thing to do,” when it comes to restricted free agent Ryan Johansen.
Views: After scoring 33 goals in the regular season and being a force for the Blue Jackets in the playoffs, Johansen has earned the right to demand a long-term contract for as much money as he wants. But the fact remains that he would have earned that right even if he had been half as good as he was last season. It’s free agency and any player can ask for whatever he thinks he’s worth. Read more
I’ve been watching the Tour de France nightly the past couple of weeks and am taken by one of the awards they give out after each stage. It’s the Combativity Award and it goes to the cyclist that day who shows the most fighting spirit.
This isn’t about tossing an elbow out when a competitor tries to zoom by or sticking a leadpipe in the spokes of an unsuspecting rival. The combative award goes to the individual who attacks on the road. That is to say, the cyclist who makes the most attempts to break away from the peloton or chase down leading groups. It’s also called the most aggressive rider prize, or as TDF analyst Paul Sherwen calls it, the rider who most often “throws the cat among the pigeons.”
The winner each stage gets called to the podium, is handed a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal, gets kisses from a pair of pretty ladies, then shakes the hands of dignitaries. During the next day’s stage, he wears a special red-backgrounded race number that denotes his distinction.
So why is they don’t have a most combative award in the NHL? They have awards for being skilled in a multitude of ways, for being gentlemanly, for being defensive, for being dedicated, for being a humanitarian, a leader. But nothing for showing the most fighting spirit. And that’s really too bad.
With the Chicago Blackhawks needing to shed salary before the regular season begins, NBC Sports’ Mike Halford wonders if they could turn to their pipeline with the Florida Panthers.
The Blackhawks currently sit $2.2 million over the $69-million cap for 2014-15. With their recent re-signings of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, they have more than $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16. Assuming the salary cap for that season jumps to $75 million, the ‘Hawks will have less than $10 million to re-sign or replace potential free agents Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Marcus Kruger.
Halford notes the Blackhawks in recent years dealt Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen to Florida. That’s largely because Panthers GM Dale Tallon is also the former GM of the Blackhawks and had a hand in bringing most of the aforementioned to Chicago before he moved on to the Panthers.
In the short term, the Blackhawks could peddle Oduya ($3.38 million) or Leddy ($2.7 million) to become cap compliant for 2014-15. TSN radio host Jason Gregor reports of speculation Oduya could be the likely trade candidate. To free up more cap space for 2015-16, however, they’ll have to ship out a player on a longer-term contract.
Halford noted the recent trade rumors swirling around winger Patrick Sharp, who’s signed through 2017 at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. While Sharp’s agent vehemently denied the speculation, Halford suggests the 32-year-old winger could interest Tallon, who’s seeking an experienced sniper. Tallon brought Sharp to Chicago in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06. Read more
In Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup final, Chicago Blackhawks fan and long-time season ticket holder Patricia Higgins was struck in the face by an errant puck that had flown up and under the protective netting. That night, Patricia and her daughter, Caitlin, were occupying their usual seats in section 115, row 11.
“All I heard was the stick hitting the puck, so it was that ‘slap’ sound, and, I mean, within a split second (she was hit),” Caitlin told NBC Chicago.
Higgins is suing the United Center for an unspecified amount, plus legal costs.
The Johnny Oduya shot struck the 55-year-old near her right eye, causing a concussion and a one-and-a-half inch deep cut that required stitches.
From the Chicago Sun-Times: Read more
When Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed their monster eight-year extensions this week, the reviews were generally very positive. The Blackhawks secured the services of two superstars, players who are integral to their core and who would be just 34 and 35 respectively when their contracts expire.
While the cap hit is $10.5 million per year, it’s not outrageous by today’s top-player standards. What’s not to like?
Not much, but there is some risk attached to the pacts. While most expect Kane and Toews to be elite players for years to come, plenty can happen in eight years.
At one point during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement during the 2012 lockout, a juncture during which things weren’t looking particularly good, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly outlined the league’s insistence on limiting contracts to five years and called it, “the hill we will die on.”
Everyone knows you never end a sentence in a preposition – the correct way to say it would have been, “It’s the hill on which we will die” – and you don’t make extreme statements during negotiations that you’re going to later have to retract. The NHL did not get its five-year contract limit and it didn’t die on any hill. Read more
Bobby Hull has a statue outside the United Center in Chicago and he won only one Stanley Cup for 15 years with the franchise. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have won two each in less than half the time. And by signing identical eight-year, $84 million deals, there’s a good chance they’ll be adding more silverware to their portfolios in the coming years.
So logic would dictate that both Kane and Toews will be bronzed themselves someday. And if they don’t get their own likenesses on Madison Avenue, they can take comfort in the fact that they’ll have enough money to buy a plot of land outside the arena and erect their own statues. Read more