NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks

Playing Hardball And 51 Phantom

Before we start to focus on what the Hawks might start to do on Friday in free agency, there’s been something I’ve wanted to address since the trade of Andrew Shaw. This marks the second straight summer that the Hawks waved the white flag on bringing back a player they really wanted to before the free agency period opened. Last summer it was Brandon Saad. Now, one was obviously a much bigger impact but the similarities are there. Both were headed to only restricted free agency, both were desperate to stay (at least they say so) and both were wanted by the Hawks (or at least their coach). And yet it didn’t work.

And it seems the Hawks have no interest in playing hardball with anyone.

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The Negative Zone

Restricted free agency in the NHL is a weird, middling, vague, and unpleasant realm of the CBA. Due to the League being run by a bunch of old white, back-slapping cronies, the top end of the RFA toolkit rarely ever gets used in trying to poach players that have drastically out performed their first and second contracts. It’s a bit underhanded, but it’s perfectly legal to do, and the it’s such a big deal when an offer sheet happens is because they are so rare. Whatever anyone’s thoughts on the Flyers or Shea Weber as a player, the offer sheet he signed was brilliantly structured with poison pills left and right that made it difficult for mid-market dope David Poile to swallow when signing him.

But there is an inverse, flip-side, bizzarro aspect to restricted free agency as well, and that is when a team declines to give a player it has under control a qualifying offer, the deadline for which passed yesterday afternoon, and sometimes it’s not exactly done on purpose. And the list of players now left out in the cold is quite interesting.

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High On The Hog: Summer Changes

The Rockford IceHogs are going to be a new-look bunch come fall. The departing faces on their parent club practically guarantees some changes.

Even in the offseason, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate has made the occasional headline. The Hawks and Hogs extended their union through 2021-22.. Rockford re-signed captain Jake Dowell for next season and said goodbye to goalie Michael Leighton in a couple of signings from earlier this month.

It came out yesterday via Scott Powers ¬†that Chicago is not going to retain Leighton’s services. However, the writing was clearly on the wall based on how the organization addressed the net prior to this week.

In case you haven’t been in the loop, here’s the state of the Hogs heading into what could be a real period of roster turnover in the coming weeks. As there has been lots of recent changes in this area, let’s start in net. Read More

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks

Fare Thee Well, Chicken Hawk And Other Drafty Day Musings

It wasn’t hard to be immediately smitten by Andrew Shaw. Within his first couple shifts as a Blackhawk, he’d already scored and gotten into a fight (guess which one Q noticed more?). You watched him skate around that first game in Philadelphia and thought, “This kid is nuts!” Hockey is probably the one sport where watching a player makes you say that, and that’s a good thing (though Willson Contreras might be carrying this tradition into baseball, and a young Charles Tillman did it for the Bears SKY POINT). In his second playoff game he ran over Mike Smith, fulfilling the fantasy of most Hawks fans (and I assume players as well). Sure, it didn’t help the Hawks much but that didn’t mean we didn’t glean a perverse joy from it.

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Nhl draft

Your Draft Day Primer

We recognize that some of you may have not been around all that long, and this may be the first time you’ve watched the NHL Draft tonight. Or you have before but need a little help making sense of it all. Well, having taken in a fair few of these now (and the resulting depression that I’m actually watching the NHL Draft), let me prepare you for what you’re in for tonight.

-First off, NBCSN just picks up the TSN feed, and the Canadian broadcast will act like this is the most important date on the calendar for the country. Probably because it is.

-The opening segment will have a close-up of the obvious first pick, this year it’s Auston Mathews. But they’ll also try and drum up some drama on whether it will be Mathews at all, so they’ll also have a close-up of Patrik Laine. Both of them will look extremely awkward, because they’re teenagers and that’s what teenagers do, and their suits probably don’t fit. Also, no one will ask Mathews why spells both his first and last name wrong.

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Good God Man, What’s The Plan?

Last night, during the usual car crash that is the NHL Awards Show (and why does the NHL need a show? No other sport needs one), Chris Kuc from the Tribune tweeted out that the Hawks are actively shopping Marcus Kruger and even Andrew Shaw, though what he could bring back as a pending RFA really wouldn’t be all that much.

The Kruger one is especially baffling.

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Cinch It Up & Hunker Down

Tonight marks the NHL’s annual award ceremony in Las Vegas, where F-list celebs uncomfortably deliver patter at the podium prior to drunk hockey players receiving replica trophies and mumbling through an acceptance speech in between impossibly poorly curated musical acts. It truly is one of the greatest events in all of show business and sports.

So naturally, because nothing Cardinal John McDonough and his PR cadre ever do is on accident, the night before he could walk home with as many as three trophies, information “leaked” that Garbage Dick is on his best behavior this summer here in the placid lakeside outpost that is Chicago under the team’s watchful eye, rather than in the cesspool of temptation that is Buffalo, New York.

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