–After years of trying, the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment [RAVE] Authority finally leased the naming rights to the MetroCentre.
RAVE leased those rights to BMO Harris Bank for a period a five years and a total of $1.3 million, according to a Rockford Register-Star report.
The MetroCentre will now be known as BMO Harris Bank Center.
Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough spoke at the press conference at the MetroCentre on Friday. Harris is also a prime sponsor of the Blackhawks. The Rockford deal actually isn’t completely finalized, but a joint memorandum indicated all points will be in place by December 15.
The arena management giant S.M.G. brokered the deal. S.M.G. has been responsible for booking the MetroCentre since last September. BMO Harris had already been sponsoring the winter synthetic outdoor ice rink a couple of blocks from the arena at Davis Park, which the RAVE Authority also oversees.
A “grand re-opening” is planned for the IceHogs preseason home opener on September 28.
The ‘BMO’ comes from Bank of Montreal. I am not making this up – The correct pronunciation on the abbreviation BMO is “Bee-mo”. So this season, if you take in an IceHogs’ home game, you should say you’re headed to the Bee-Mo, or Bee-mo Harris Bank Center.
–The Blackhawks filled the two vacant assistant positions in Rockford.
Ben Simon will fill the bench assistant post next to Steve Poapst and new head coach Ted Dent. Simon is a former Chicago Wolves center who was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in 1997 (5th round) while he played at Notre Dame (CCHA). Simon was a head coach and player in England last season.
With the Sheffield Steelers, in addition to serving as coach, Simon scored 27 goals and 66 points in 62 games (ranking 21st in league scoring) in England’s Elite Ice Hockey League. Simon spent the second half of the 2009-10 season with the Toronto Marlies. He managed just 2 goals and 8 points in 44 games there. Simon scored twice in his final game, in a single-elimination round playoff round to Nottingham. He quit the Steelers later and decided to retire in June. Also on that Steelers team last year was defenseman Jerramie Domish, who played for Blackhawks affiliates Norfolk and Rockford from 2006-08, and Rob Globke, who starred at Notre Dame, getting there two years after Simon graduated.
Andrew Allen was hired to fill the organization’s developmental goaltending coach position left open by Wade Flaherty when he took the job of goaltending coach with the Winnipeg Jets.
Allen was a goaltender at the University of Vermont and was a teammate of Patrick Sharp when Sharp was a freshman (Allen’s senior year). Allen was Mike Haviland’s goaltender in Trenton when that team won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup in 2005. Ted Dent was also the assistant coach on that team. Haviland moved on to the Blackhawks organization the 05-06 in Norfolk. Dent followed a year later. Allen retired after winning the Kelly Cup. He had been on the St. Lawrence (ECAC) coaching staff since 2008.
–In cased you missed it, here’s our update on the Cristobal Huet situation from Saturday.
–Twenty-six days after being let go by the Blackhawks, Chris Campoli remains a free agent. It’s been a rough summer for Campoli so far. He’s spent most of it recovering from knee surgery. Campoli’s arbitration hearing (originally scheduled for Aug 3) was expedited after Stan Bowman indicated he would not sign the defenseman to a new contract, choosing to ink a cheaper comparable, Sami Lepisto, instead on July 15th. Campoli was awarded $2.5M for one year by an arbiter on July 20th, which the Blackhawks then formally declined their option to accept.
–In his hearing, Shea Weber’s agent presented the 2011-12 salaries of Duncan Keith ($8M)and Brent Seabrook ($7M) as favorable comparisons to Weber. The arbiter in that case awarded Weber $7.5M. Larry Brooks of the NY Post reports Nashville presented contracts of Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien as the Preds’ argument seeking $4.75M (Weber was asking for $8.5M) in arbitration. I think Predators’ fans should start preparing for fandom without Shea Weber. Weber just turned 26, so unless there’s a change in the age setting for UFA’s in the new CBA Weber will have to wait until 2013 to hit free agency. He’ll be traded long before then.
–NHL Network will have live coverage from the research and development 2012 Draft prospect camp beginning Wednesday night at 6pm.
—Nikolai Khabibulin is out of jail. He will complete the final 15 of his 30 day DUI sentence under house arrest. Khabibulin has two years remaining on the four-year $15M contract he signed with the Oilers after leaving Chicago in 2009. He’ll make $3.75M in each of the next two seasons. The Bulin-Wall turns 39 in January.
—Enrico Ciccone posted on Twitter that he’ll be the between the benches analyst during Ottawa Senators games this year for TVA Sports. The brand new french-language Canadian network is launching next month and will broadcast 25 Senators games.
–Jake Suter, son of former Blackhawk Gary Suter, will play at UMass-Lowell this fall. Eddie Olczyk’s son Tommy has committed to Penn State University for the 2012-13 season.
–Former Blackhawk Jason Morgan has signed with the Stockton Thunder (ECHL). Morgan played in Norway last season and was last in the NHL in 2006-07 when he dressed in four games with the Minnesota Wild. He was last with the Hawks the season prior.
–Update on Chicago Robbie Earl, who had agreed to play for Dinamo Riga (Latvia) in the KHL this season, then changed his mind a few days later. Earl has signed with the Salzburg Red Bulls in the Austrian (Erste Bank) league. There he’ll be teammates with former Chicago Wolves’ forward Ramzi Abid and Jeremy Williams, who Earl skated with while on the Toronto Marlies. Former Blackhawks property and Rockford IceHogs winger Danny Bois will also play for Salzburg this season.
–Jonas Hiller will be on the cover of EA Sports NHL 12 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
–Michael Nylander’s son Willie, who played for the Chicago Mission AAA midget minor (U16) team the past season, will play U18 junior in Sweden this year. Willie, who just turned 15, was the MVP on his Mission squad last season averaging about two points per game. Martin Lapointe’s son Guyot also played on that team.
Papa Nylander is attempting to make a come back. Michael Nylander’s ’10-11 season ended abruptly last October when he fell awkwardly into the boards after being hit from behind by Grand Rapids Griffins’ defenseman Derek Meech during a game in Rochester. Nylander subsequently had season-ending neck surgery. He had fractured his fifth and sixth vertebrae in falling head-first into the boards. Cleared for contact in May, less than seven months after surgery, Nylander has been training in Sweden with a group that includes Blackhawks’ center Marcus Kruger. Nylander told HockeyExpressen his agent has not had any NHL offers yet but he is training for that league. Nylander says he is still a couple weeks away from determining where he stands physically.
—Brent Sopel is wearing number 55 with Metallurg Novokuznetsk.
–NHL vet Jeff Cowan joins Jassen Cullimore on the Iserlohn Roosters.
–Defensemen Scott Hannan signed with Calgary over the weekend. Hannan split last season with Colorado, then Washington last season. One year, $1M for Hannan to play for the Flames this year.
The blue line in front of Miikka Kiprusoff (who turns 35 in October) now looks something like this: Jay Bouwmeester-Mark Giordano, Chris Butler-Anton Babchuck, Hannan-Cory Sarich. They also have Brett Carson (25, 6-4, 220) who they claimed off waivers from Carolina last spring. They couldn’t sign top prospect Tim Erixon and dealt him to the Rangers for a lesser prospect and a couple second round picks.
–Owen Nolan, 39, will be in Canucks’ camp on a try-out basis. Nolan played for Zurich in the Swiss league last season. He commented on his upcoming tryout and playing in Switzerland this past Friday on Rogers SportsNet radio.
“I’ll never complain about officiating again,” Nolan joked about the subpar and inconsistent officiating in the Swiss NLA league. “I want to win a Stanley Cup. I feel incomplete right now without winning a Cup. This may be my last kick at the can and I want to make the best of it,” Nolan said referring to his Vancouver tryout.
With the ZSC Lions last year Nolan posted 7 goals and 26 points in 24 regular season games. He battled some injuries. He also contributed 2 goals and 2 helpers in 5 playoff games.
Nolan has played in 1,200 regular season NHL contests, scoring 422 goals and 885 points. In postseason, he’s posted 21 goals and 40 points in 65 contests. He last played for the Minnesota Wild in 2009-10 and makes his off season home in San Jose.
Marc Bergevin turned 46 last Thursday…. Greg Fox (58), Rob Klinkhammer (25) and Hawks’ 2011 draft choice Sam Jardine (18) all had birthdays this past Friday…. Marty Turco, who remains a UFA, turned 36 on Saturday…. Recently re-acquired Brett McLean celebrated his 33rd birthday on Sunday.
Ivan Boldirev (62), Neil Wilkinson (44) and James Black (42) all celebrate birthdays on Monday. Yugoslavian-born Boldirev played in five seasons with Chicago (1974-79) after coming over in a trade from the California Seals. He left in March of ’79 with defenseman Phil Russell in the deal which netted the Hawks Greg Fox and Tom Lysiak….. Wilkinson is best known as a Blackhawk for being on the wrong end of the Tony Granato stick-swinging incident in Los Angeles. Wilkinson will be inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame this fall…. James Black had great hockey hair. He was also Kyle Calder before Kyle Calder was Kyle Calder.
–Tuesday marks the 15-year anniversary of the Jeremy Roenick-Alex Zhamnov trade.
–As a 20-year old, Darren Pang became a Blackhawk on this day in 1984, signing as an un-drafted free agent out of Ottawa in the Ontario Hockey League. Pang started one game for the Hawks that 84-85 season, in February of ’85, then went back to the minors until 1987. Pang served as goaltending coach at Notre Dame for three years while Ben Simon played for the Fighting Irish.
–The Blackhawks signed Theo Fleury to a contract on this day in 2002. General manager Mike Smith outbid Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Toronto for Fleury’s services. Fleury got a two-year deal worth $4M per. Of course he didn’t collect anywhere near that (apprx $2.8) as he was suspended for the first two months of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and then again the entire following season for the same. Fleury played one year overseas for the Belfast Giants in 05-06 and attempted a comeback with the Flames in September of 2009, two months before his autobiography Playing With Fire was released. In that book, aside from getting more guaranteed money from Chicago, Fleury said that even though he had the utmost respect for Wayne Gretzky, Fleury would have been too ashamed to play for him because by that point Fleury knew he was a full-blown addict.
—Wayne Gretzky personally negotiated his son Trevor’s first MLB contract with Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry [Yahoo!]
Speaking of, last week Sam Fels recalled the time he first saw the Great One play in person.
–New ECHL franchise Chicago Express signed three new players. The Express will be affiliates with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Syracuse Crunch (AHL). Their home opener is Sat October 22 at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. The Blackhawks have a home game as well that night. For those who’ve never been, Sears Centre is right off I-90 (literally next to it) near Rte 59. Ticket info is at ChicagoExpressHockey.com
–If anyone is still interested in becoming a Blackhawks’ writer for our site, you still have a few days to let me know. Email at the address below or at TheThirdManIn @ sbcglobal.net. Looking for bloggers for recaps, news analysis, game previews, even stat geeks or fantasy hockey columns.