If you can’t wait for the NHL season to start, maybe turn your attention to Europe, where the Champions League is off and running. The super-sized tournament for club teams features squads from all over the continent and it’s more than just a place to find fun NHL names from the recent past (Chuck Kobasew! Mikael Samuelsson!). A lot of great young talent is on display, including some top NHL prospects and draft eligibles. Below you’ll find 10 players to watch for as the tournament goes on. Not included were skaters on rosters but yet to play in a game, including 2016 prospect Patrik Laine of Finland, 2015′s Michael Spacek of the Czech Republic and Pittsburgh first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen.
When THN’s seven-person panel sat down to come up with our rankings of the 30 NHL logos, we were basically in full agreement which team would be No. 1.
We didn’t want history to influence our decisions. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens sit outside the top 10 for that reason. Ranking all the Original Six 1-6 is boring, predictable and doesn’t accomplish what we wanted to do here: reward the best logos, not the longest history.
Even still, the Chicago Blackhawks stood up to that measurement. The vibrant color combination and the respectful way it honors a WWI battalion and a Native American chief sets this logo apart from the rest. If we handed out the Three Stars of these logo rankings, the Blackhawks logo would be one, two and three.
As we’ve done with the rest of the logos, we’re opening it up to you the reader to redesign the Blackhawks look. It may be hard to do, but if you think you can design a better (or fresher) logo for the Blackhawks, now is your chance. Send your redesign to email@example.com and we’ll run our favorites next week.
All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.
HISTORY OF THE BLACKHAWKS LOGO
In 1926, coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin was awarded an NHL franchise for a $12,000 entry fee. To build a roster, McLaughlin purchased players from the Portland Rosebuds, a franchise from the disbanding Western League. But rather than take the name of the WHL team they had purchased – as the Red Wings initially did with the name Cougars – McLaughlin wanted his own nickname. Rosebuds simply wasn’t good enough for a hockey team.
In World War I, McLaughlin was a commander in the 333rd machine gun battalion of the 86th division in the U.S. Army, whose members called themselves “Black Hawks.” The name honored the Sauk Indian chief who sided with the British in the War of 1812. In the 1830s, Chief Black Hawk fought again against the Americans when he brought his tribe back across the Mississippi River and into Illinois to plant crops and reclaim their land. In 1832, he lost the brief war to the Americans, was captured and taken on “tour” of the East Coast. He would briefly be put in jail before he was released.
The original Chicago Black Hawks logo was a crudely drawn black and white Native American, inside a circle that spelled out the team’s name.
Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s focus is on how to become cap compliant before the start of this season. With the Blackhawks sitting $2.2 million above the $69 million salary cap, there’s ongoing speculation over which players (Patrick Sharp? Johnny Oduya? Nick Leddy?) Bowman could move to get under the cap ceiling.
Following this season, however, Bowman will face more salary cap issues. His re-signings of franchise players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching eight-year, $84-million contracts leave the Blackhawks with over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16.
Assuming the salary cap rises to $75 million next summer, there won’t be much room to retain most of their other key free agents. Oduya, Brad Richards, Michal Rozsival and Peter Regin are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, while Leddy, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and David Rundblad become restricted free agents. Read more
Right winger Kevin Hayes has bid adieu to one of the league’s strongest franchise and signed instead with the New York Rangers. The deal is a two-way contract, as per CBA guidelines for entry-level contracts, and is expected to be worth the rookie maximum salary if he makes the NHL.
The Modus operandi was all about getting to the NHL sooner for the Boston-area native. The Hayes watch has been on high alert since the NCAA graduate rebuffed the Chicago Blackhawks and became a free agent Aug. 15. Social media has been abuzz this week speculating where Hayes may sign. At one point today, the Kevin Hayes Wikipedia page showed him a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The next minute he was a Ranger. Then he was a free agent again as rational heads prevailed leading up to his announcement.
Some wondered, tongue in cheek, if his Hall of Fame announcement would precede his NHL destination of choice.
So how good is this Kevin Hayes?
The state of the Philadelphia Flyers defense core remains a troubling issue. They’ve lacked a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury nearly three years ago. They attempted to address that issue in July of 2012 by signing Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber to an expensive offer sheet, but the Predators swiftly matched it.
Former GM Paul Holmgren attempted to bolster the overall blueline depth, acquiring Luke Schenn, Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald via trade and free agency. None of them, however, can fill Pronger’s skates.
The Flyers underwent a front-office shakeup this spring when Ron Hextall took over as GM. Despite Hextall’s stated preference for building from within, rumor-mongers believe the Flyers still seek a stud defenseman, linking them to Winnipeg Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian. Read more
Chicago fans discovered the power of the hashtag this week as the Blackhawks did indeed “Ban ‘The Stripper.’ ”
If Kevin Hayes doesn’t sign with Chicago by Aug. 15, he’ll be this summer’s version of Justin Schultz and become a UFA.
A first-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2010, Hayes is a playmaking power forward who had a terrific senior season at Boston College with 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games. He’s not keen to sign with Chicago because the Blackhawks are so deep on the right wing, both at the NHL level and in terms of prospects. He’ll surely get a rookie max deal regardless.
Hayes, 22, probably has a short list of three teams:
Over a month has passed since the Chicago Blackhawks’ signing of center Brad Richards pushed them above the $69 million salary cap by more than $2.2 million. While the Blackhawks have until the start of the season in October to become cap compliant, speculation persists over what GM Stan Bowman will do to address this.
Earlier this summer there was talk of the Blackhawks trading winger Patrick Sharp, who has three seasons remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. Though Sharp’s agent vehemently denied the rumors, NBC Sports’ Mike Halford believes Sharp could have high trade value. The 32-year-old forward is a proven goalscorer and is coming off a career-high 78-point season.
Halford also noted moving Sharp would free up additional cap space for next season. The Blackhawks currently have over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16. That won’t leave much room for Bowman to re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy. Trading Sharp would address that problem, though it comes with the risk of weakening the Blackhawks’ offense this season. Read more