Monthly Archives: June 2011

July 1st: A Blackhawks Prospectus

Stan Bowman solidified his repackaged defense corps on Thursday, inking Steve Montador to a 4-year $11 million agreement.  The $2.75M annual cap hit is slightly more than you would have wanted to spend, but the difference isn’t significant enough to debate over.

The Blackhawks had acquired Montador’s rights late Wednesday from Buffalo for the seventh-round draft choice Chicago received from Florida this past Monday when the Hawks sent Tomas Kopecky’s negotiating rights to the Panthers.  Kopecky signed with the Panthers two days later; $12M over 4 years.

Montador, 31, isn’t huge (6-0, 210) but he’s tough and plays with an edge the Hawks lacked on the blue line.  He’s best-suited as a third-pair defenseman on a contender, which the Blackhawks should be again in 2012.  But he will kill penalties and fill time on the power play if need be.  He’s solid all around, but not really above-average at anything in particular.  He gets into trouble when he leans too heavily into the offensive end or in the physical side of his game.  But he makes good reads, a solid first pass and is trustworthy.  Montador also has a big shot the Hawks might use on a second power play unit and he’s adept and willing to patrol the crease on the defensive end. Read more »

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Eddie Olczyk calls Brian Campbell a 5th defenseman; touts Bieksa


On Monday, Blackhawks television color analyst Eddie Olczyk was a guest on Chicago sports radio 670 TheScore discussing the team’s moves over draft weekend with hosts of the station’s midday show.

Olczyk joined hosts Dan McNeil and Matt Speigel, essentially, as you’ll read, to rundown outgoing Hawks’ defenseman Brian Campbell. Read more »

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Blackhawks qualifying offers; Note on Dowell

Michael Frolik, Chris Campoli and Viktor Stalberg all received qualifying offers by Monday’s 4pm deadline as expected.

One player who did not is center Jake Dowell.  According to Dowell’s agent Neil Sheehy in a report by ESPNChicago.com, the Blackhawks chose not to tender the Blackhawks center a standard qualifying offer, thus setting Dowell up for unrestricted free agency on July 1st.

The Hawks are looking to upgrade their fourth line and Monday’s news would appear to indicate Dowell is another odd man out.  To retain Dowell’s rights, the Hawks would have needed to make him a “qualifying” offer of one year and $605,000.

It’s also important to note that Dowell was scheduled to be tested for Huntington’s disease this spring, a condition both his father and brother suffer from.  There have been plans in the works by the Blackhawks to hold a Huntington’s benefit this upcoming season.

The qualifying offers to Frolik, Campoli and Stalberg essentially give the team right of first refusal in the upcoming free agent negotiation period.  The players can choose to accept the Hawks’ offers, seek an offer sheet from another club, walk away (as in go play in Europe) or continue negotiating with the Hawks on a new deal.  The one-year qualifying offer secures the player’s rights, preventing them from entering the open market unconditionally this coming Friday.

The offers tendered to the abovementioned are such: Read more »

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Bob Probert Day, Interesting Tallon weekend, Campbell speaks, Chelios, Peters and more

Sunday was Bob Probert Day in his hometown Windsor, Ontario.  800 motorcyclists turned out for a memorial charity ride supporting a local hospital’s angioplasty program.  Chris Chelios was there and served as honorary “captain” for the ride.  July 5th is the one-year anniversary of Probert’s death.

Later on Sunday, Chelios was on hand at Detroit’s Fox Theatre for his buddy Eddie Vedder’s solo show.  Vedder is at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow and Wednesday night.  This was a big thrill for Chelios.  I guess he kind of had to be there.  During Vedder’s two and a half hour set Sunday, he dedicated his version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to Chelios.  Detroit wasn’t a scheduled stop on Vedder’s current U.S. tour until Chelios did some persuading on his friend and Pearl Jam frontman.  To oblige, Vedder cancelled an additional planned show in Philadelphia.

Chelios and Vedder met in San Diego in 1980-81 in that beach community’s surfing scene, in the summer months where the Chelios clan lived.  They also worked for a time at opposite gas stations across the street from each other.  The pair didn’t keep in touch and Chelios never put two and two together even after Pearl Jam burst onto the scene ten years later and Chelios became a fan.  Back in San Diego, Eddie Vedder was actually Eddie Mueller.  But one night in 1997, Vedder was out with Dennis Rodman in Chicago and happened to be at the same bar as Chelios.  Vedder recognized Chelios, but as he put it (Vedder wasn’t a hockey fan), not from being a star NHL player, but from their old haunts on the surf.  Vedder recounted to Chelios how the two knew each other from San Diego, but didn’t introduce himself as the famous rock singer and Chelios still didn’t put that together on his own.  Vedder walked away realizing Chelios hadn’t the faintest recollection or idea who Vedder was.  Shortly after, one of Vedder’s bodyguards (he is legitimately 5’4”) walked over and clued Chelios in and the two exchanged phone numbers. At times Chelios has arranged his summer schedule around Pearl Jam and Vedder shows in Chicago and Detroit.  In 2008, Chelios planned his two days with the Stanley Cup around a Cubs game and a Vedder show at the Auditorium Theatre.  A night John Cusak, John C McGinley (Scrubs) and Sean Penn were also on hand for.  Chelios got a mixed reaction from the Chicago crowd when he raised the Stanley Cup under a spotlight from a balcony box in a planned spot to start Vedder’s set.

Brian Campbell says ex-teammates of his want to join him in Florida.  NHL.com Read more »

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Bowman interview, prospect camp changes; Winny coach news, Torchetti out, Yawney quits, Toews quips, Tallon troubles, NHLvsNBA and Wang news

Stan Bowman was interviewed on ChicagoBlackhawks.com’s podcast, Blackhawks Insider, in audio posted on Monday.  A portion of Bowman’s conversation with Adam Kempenaar is transcribed here.

The Blackhawks Way of playing hockey

One piece of news coming out of the audio portion pertained to July’s prospect camp.  Bowman is inviting fewer players and there will be less scrimmage time.  He’s looking at this year as less of a tryout (or evaluation) camp and more of a development camp.  They’re experimenting with a different ideas at the assistance and suggestion of Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.  Bowman said there will be a bigger focus on “skills they’re going to need to have in order to eventually play for us.”  Just the idea of fewer players would seem to indicate one scrimmage per day instead of two.  On the topic of scrimmages, Bowman said “we are certainly going to have some of those but it was predominately scrimmages in the past.”

On the talent pool in this year’s draft, Bowman is optimistic that there is enough that he’ll get “good” future NHLers but he doesn’t see high-end goaltenders in this draft, which is consistent with the scouting reports.  Bowman said they “don’t necessarily have a one position” they’re focusing on.  He said in the past they had holes at center and defense but felt they’ve addressed those in the past couple of years.  He said he hadn’t had talks with any GM’s on moving up or trading down, but revealed those discussions between GM’s don’t typically come into play until the week and days leading into the draft.  He said they’re working at getting the best group of picks, regardless of position.

That taken, the Hawks are very weak on the depth chart at right wing.  Jeremy Morin is better on the left side.  Kyle Beach and Igor Makarov can play either.  Beach is probably better on the left but his game is a little far off to say for sure.  Makarov could Rockford’s top right wing by default if Morin and Beach keep to their off wing.

Longer-range, Bowman shared his thoughts and is high on Justin Holl’s skating ability; the toning down of Stephen Johns and Kevin Hayes taking the next step.

–Conflicting reports now coming out of Canada on the search for a new Winnipeg coach.  Today’s Winnipeg Sun is reporting there will be a second-round of interviews with finalists Claude Noel and Mike Haviland. Read more »

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Monday night’s Hockeenight PuckCast

Gracious hosts as always, CT and the “Forklift” of Hockeenight.com welcomed me onto their PuckCast again last night.

Click the player below to listen here in your browser.  ITunes users can subscribe and download all of their shows in the podcast section of the ITunes store.

For others who prefer to download these audio programs, I uploaded it here.

We ran the gamut of Chicago Blackhawks topics on the show.  Here’s a list of just some of those:

-Blackhawks at this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft
-Who the Hawks are likely to pick
-Draft trades
-Which position the Hawks need to stock up on
-Making the right deal with Michael Frolik
-Bringing back former Hawks
-Two Hawks, aside from Marty Turco, definitely goners
-Niklas Hjalmarsson
-What Ben Smith won’t do next season
-The Kid Rock of hockey blogging
-Canucks injuries
-Twitter
-Joel Quenneville’s goalie gun
-Jeremy Morin
-Getting the best player in a deal
-Gargantuan hockey bloggers
-Blackhawks convention
-More on Duncan Keith’s comments
-Trying to make sense of why people dislike John McDonough so much
-Missing Tonkfest
-Thoughts on Canucks-Bruins
-Phil Collins in Concert
-Hockey Returns to Winnipeg
-Trying to watch baseball
-Raffi Torres, Aaron Rome, Hjalmarsson and hits that must be taken out of the game

And much, much more

Thanks as always to Fork and CT for having me on and to all those who take the time to listen to their show, as well as ours.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Blackhawks 2011 preseason schedule; Salary Cap up more than expected

Blackhawks announced their upcoming 2011 preseason schedule on Monday.

Chicago will again play seven exhibition games and see home-and-home games with the Penguins and Red Wings, as they did last fall.  The Capitals return to the Hawks’ preseason slate after a one year absence.  The two teams will also play a home-and-home series as they did in 2009.  The Blackhawks other exhibition game will be a neutral site contest against the Oilers in Sasaktoon.

Here goes….

Tues Sept 20 (in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) vs Edmonton Oilers @ Credit Union Centre – 6pm*

Thur Sept 22 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Consol Energy Center) 6:00pm

Fri Sept 23 vs. Washington Capitals (United Center) 7:00pm

Sun Sept 25 @ Detroit Red Wings (Joe Louis Arena) 3:00pm

Wed Sept 28 vs. Detroit Red Wings (United Center) 7:30pm

Fri Sept 30 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (United Center) 7:30pm

Sun Oct 02 @ Washington Capitals (Verizon Center) 4:00pm

*Not sure about the time on that Saskatoon game, but that’s what is currently listed.  I’d bet that is a mistake (taken from the Hawks’ official press release).  All other times appear to be central.  Saskatoon is on central time (UTC-6) year round.  So that would mean either mean a 6pm start in Saskatoon and 7pm in Chicago, or a 5pm Saskatoon, 6pm Chicago scenario.  I don’t know why it would be anything other than a 7pm or later start in Saskatoon?  I’d go with that (8pm Chicago). The building holds less than 15,000 and is the home of the Saskatoon Blades (WHL).  Pearl Jam plays the Credit Union Centre the night before.

Last year’s preseason began with a trip to Winnipeg for a neutral site game with the Lightning.  Comcast SportsNet-Chicago gave that game a broadcast because it had the added element of being captain Jonathan Toews’ homecoming.

The September 30th game will be a chance to see about as close to the Hawks’ Opening Night roster as you’re going to get prior to the opener.  Fat chance you’ll get a look at Sidney Crosby in person that night however.

NHL SALARY CAP FLYING HIGHER AGAIN

– Positive news for the top revenue franchises looking to keep their star players, bid on free agents and spend to the cap.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting that when the salary cap is officially set and announced next week, the upper max will come in at $64 million.  The “upper limit” was previously rumored to be anywhere from 62 to 63.2 million for the upcoming season.  Each of these figures would figure in the NHLPA’s escalator option to automatically push the upper limit up by five percent.

Of course this news also greatly impacts franchise on the other end of the spectrum as well.  The CBA mandates that the lower end, or “floor” (minimum a team must spend on their NHL roster) will be $16 million less than the upper limit.

This year’s “floor” will thus be $48M, an increase of $4.6M from last year’s $43.4M lower limit.

Florida, Phoenix, Dallas and the Islanders have some work to do.  All teams already bleeding money, by the way.  Funny how the system works.

In Chicago, this development likely means Stan Bowman will be in the game on bidding for anything but the few top-level free agents if he’d so choose to.  The extra two or so million also should eliminate any ideas of moving Niklas Hjalmarsson for the purpose of freeing up cap space and maneuverability – Which is a good thing for his regular defense partner Brian Campbell.  Still, that defense needs some tweaking and with Leddy and Campoli in the mix there isn’t a space to plug in another defenseman.  There will be a need for a seventh defenseman, but that won’t be an expensive slot.  Some have suggested Brent Sopel could be brought back but that should only be if he is willing to accept less than a million on a short term agreement. He’d also need to know that he’d start seventh on the depth chart.  If John Scott’s on the NHL roster he’s an emergency forward or defenseman, or specialty option against select teams.  If his skating can improve and he can provide more, great, but it shouldn’t be counted on.  There’s a need for a blue line penalty killer, preferably with some jam to his game that can take some of that responsibility away from the over-taxed Duncan Keith.

– While a decision is said not to be imminent, the Winnipeg head coaching job is down to Blackhawks’ assistant Mike Haviland (Cheveldayoff) and AHL-Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel (True North).  Sitting “Thrashers” head coach Craig Ramsey is no longer sitting.  After interviewing for the job he held during the 2010-11 season in Winnipeg on Saturday, Ramsey was informed he wasn’t getting the job.  As was former Oilers’ bench boss Craig MacTavish.

– Wanted to make mention – Since the last game of the Finals was played on June 15th, the CBA dictates that the league-wide moratorium on new player contracts would not go into effect until 48 hours after the conclusion of that game.  The actual wording is “the later of June 15th or 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals.” Why new contracts continue to come out five days later (Nicklas Lidstrom) is anyone’s guess.  Its not that teams and agents cannot negotiate, its a moratorium on paperwork filings that make those new SPC’s official.  So perhaps its semantics or the league could be making up new rules and overriding the collective bargaining agreement when they deem fit as they go along?

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Check out this Monday night’s Hockeenight PuckCast

I’ll be returning as a guest on this week’s Hockeenight PuckCast.

The three of us will be recording the show Monday night starting at 8:15.  Since CT & the Forklift are a bit too weird for the mainstream, you’ll need to register for TalkShoe and note that you’re at least 18 to listen.

We’ll be wrapping the Stanley Cup Playoffs, previewing the Blackhawks at this week’s NHL Draft and looking ahead to what the Hawks might do when free agency commences the following week.  And I’m sure there will be a bevy of other topics as well, including mid-90’s Rangers’ references, Pierre McGuire appreciation, the dumbest thing written by a Blackhawks’ writer/blogger in the past two months (this could be a whole show), who will be the first NHL player to get out-ed for sending pictures (dongaging?)of their penis to women’s cell phones and finally where did it all go wrong for career of Dave Chyzowski?

If you can’t listen live the show will be posted at Hockeenight.com late Monday night / early Tuesday morning.

I’ll also post the audio here on Tuesday.

For those asking about the next edition of TTMI~Radio…. as the current and reigning Blackhawks’ general manager would say…. We’re right on schedule…. But I don’t have a timetable for our return.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Haviland job interview, Rockford news, IceHogs season tickets, 92 Chicago Riots, Campoli, more

Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland is interviewing for the Winnipeg head coaching job on Friday, per the Winnipeg Free Press. Others known to be interviewing are Craig MacTavish, Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel and technically the current Winnipeg coach, Craig Ramsey.  It had appeared this would essentially come down to Noel and Haviland unless another candidate steps up.  However, MacTavish, who was heavily rumored to be the new Wild coach, is back in the mix as word tonight is that Minnesota hired Mike Yeo, who is the head coach of their AHL affiliate Houston Aeros.  I think the linked article’s phrasing – “Ramsey has also been granted an interview,” tells you Ramsey is heading into this process a heavy underdog.

Chris Campoli was named to the NHLPA Competition Committee on Monday.  Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri is the other new member of the committee.  Campoli and Cammalleri replace Mike Commodore and Mathieu Schneider as voting members.  Schneider will stay on as an advisor.  The committee now consists of Campoli, Cammalleri, David Backes, Chris Clark and Ryan Miller.

In Boston on Monday, the committee voted to approve the broadening of Rule 48 (originally known as the blindside headshot rule) to cover a hit to the head from any angle.  Alterations were needed because when the league put together Rule 48 and called it the “Illegal Check to the head” rule (contrary to legal checks to the head, you see) the rule didn’t cover all checks to the head of an opponent.

Campoli (right knee surgery) should be cleared for full workouts in 2-3 weeks.  He’s a restricted free agent on July 1 as long as he gets his qualifying offer a few days before then.

Haven’t read or heard an update on Troy Brouwer (right labral (shoulder) tear) since his May 10th surgery.  He’s expected to be fine by training camp.  Brouwer is also a restricted free agent in need of a new deal.

– This is old news but again, we’re catching up. Read more »

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Bergevin, Maciver promoted; Scotty stays put; notes on Torchetti, Madden and Larmer at 50

Marc Bergevin was promoted today to Assistant General Manager in the role vacated by Kevin Cheveldayoff when he left to take the GM job in Winnipeg.

Bergevin is well-liked by virtually everyone.  He served as the team’s director of player personnel for two years, a position he moved into the day after Dale Tallon was “re-assigned.”  This will be Bergevin’s seventh year with the team.  After Denis Savard was removed from the coaching position and Joel Quenneville was hired, Bergevin was made a third assistant coach.  Prior to that he was pro scout.

“As an organization we’re fortunate to have the depth of talent available that allows us to promote from within,” Stan Bowman said of Bergevin’s promotion in a Wednesday press release.

Bergevin, who turns 46 in August, was drafted by the Hawks in 1983 (59th overall) and spent his first four full seasons with the Hawks before being sent to the New York Islanders with Gary Nylund in exchange for center Bob Bassen and defenseman Steve Konroyd on November 25, 1988.  In his 20-year playing career, Bergevin spent a year on the Island before bouncing from Hartford, Tampa Bay (2x), Detroit, St. Louis (2x), Pittsburgh (2x) and finally Vancouver.

Bergevin won’t have much time to adapt to his new role and will be under fire quickly as the period for qualifying restricted free agents is a week away and then free agency a week after that.

Just as big of news coming out Wednesday is the announcement that Scotty Bowman will be staying on as Senior Advisor.  His three-year contract was coming due and has been extended.  It was not made clear for how long.

With Bergevin moving up, Norm Maciver was promoted into the role as Director of Player Personnel.  Maciver was previously Director of player development.  MacIver had a big influence on the acquisition of Nick Leddy.

The only other change involves Kyle Davidson, who was brought on as video coach this past season, replacing Brad Aldrich.  Davidson will now serve in a new role as Hockey Administration Coordinator, which is apparently different from Ian Gentile’s role (Hockey Operations Coordinator). Read more »

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