Aug 212011

As a follow up to Igor Makarov signing with St. Petersburg (KHL), it appears the Blackhawks did execute a contractual release of the one-remaining year on his entry-level deal.  That means Makarov is off the 50-man roster.  In the Russian interview we cited in Friday’s story, Makarov said the Hawks released him and that claim now lines up.  His name has now been removed from the team’s web site.

–All remaining regular season Blackhawks tickets go on sale Monday morning at 10am central via Ticketmaster.  Standing room is now $27.  First seven rows of the top level will cost $72 or $90 (60-72 if your seats are behind netting) depending on the opponent.  To sit eleven rows off the ice on the weekend or against an Original Six or rivalry opponent now costs you $200.  And you thought trading Brian Campbell would save us money….

–Free agent Chris Campoli says he has “a few irons in the fire.” [Toronto Star]

“There is interest,’ Campoli told the Star.  “I have to stay positive.”

Campoli’s originally scheduled August 3rd arbitration case was accelerated to July 20 after Stan Bowman pronounced on July 15 that he no longer had interest in re-signing Campoli, instead choosing to go with cheaper comparable,  Sami Lepisto instead.  Lepisto took $750,000 for one year.  That’s 50 grand less than he made last year.  An arbitrator gave Campoli $2.5M in arbitration, but it didn’t matter.  Campoli knew the Hawks would not accept it and thus he’d immediately hit the open market.

Something bad must have gone on in those negotiations between the Hawks and Campoli’s agent.  Consider for a second if the Hawks did go to the arbiter and argued a strong case.  Say the figure came back at $1.75m.  Not likely, but it’s still a 25% raise for a 26-year old fifth or sixth defenseman.  Would the Hawks have gone against their word at that point?  Who knows?  You pretty much have to take everything Stan Bowman says with a grain of salt and he’d always spoken highly of Campoli from the moment he acquired the defenseman, until July.

But the symbolism for Bowman to stick his neck out to its fullest as he did on the eve of the annual Blackhawks Convention was quite bold.   He did not waver and the moment played out almost as if it had been orchestrated to make an example of Campoli from the beginning.

Its interesting because had Campoli not been qualified or had he been let go, say before July 1st, you can almost bet he’d have signed somewhere within days of the market opening.   Budgets are simply much smaller in late July and August than they are in the first week of July.  Campoli isn’t bad defenseman.  He can help a lot of teams. He’s a nice depth guy on a team aiming for a championship, but not much more.

We don’t know what went on, but Bowman had to know, or at least it was his role to know, what Campoli was looking for in his next contract well before July 1st.  Or at least a day or two before he inked Steve Montador, 31, also a career fifth or sixth defenseman (at least on a great team), to a 4-year $11M deal that pays Montador $4.6M this season.  Bowman acquired Montador on the 29th, the deal was done 24 hours later.  At that VERY moment, whether spoken or not, Bowman would have known Campoli would want something similar.  And since Bowman settled for low cost depth and did not break the bank in free agency, budget wise, the circumstances did not change from June 29th to July 15.

If the rumors are true and Campoli was asking for something around three million per season all along, Bowman made his decision when he signed the Montador contract.  I’m guessing he tried to trade Campoli’s rights (remember that trade rumor Tim Sassone floated involving Montreal and Travis Moen? Perhaps Campoli was the Hawk being dangled) but everyone knows big-headed players heading to arbitration are not desirable commodities.  If he really wanted to sign Campoli all along, he should have started serious negotiations long before the Montador deal, or even the Brian Campbell trade.  You might be inclined to forgive a lack of foresight as far as the Campbell deal is concerned; it appeared that impossible trade came together quickly.  But those two moves combined gave Campoli the perception of leverage.

Player versus player, Stan probably did make the right choice in Montador.  If he was going to spend money on one or the other, you’d do it with Montador because he fills gaps in attributes missing from the blue line last season.  The blue line needed refinement and Montador helps do that.

Still, while Stan made the smart call, he screwed with Campoli’s bank account in the process.  Though, by the letter of the CBA, Bowman ran the course as rules allow.

There are really only two ways to look at this.  Either Stan Bowman thought like a fan and buys into the propaganda that players will (or should) take less to play for the Hawks because it’s the best place to be, and thought one day Campoli would wake up, realize that, say to himself “being a Blackhawk is more important than money”, and take a lot less of it.

Or, Bowman and company saw Campoli as a union hardliner they could make a statement with and a public example of.   Players have long memories.  And I don’t see how that benefits anyone.

Gary Suter on induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame [Lakeland Times]

Jonathan Toews definitely wants another Cup. [Globe and Mail]

“I don’t think it will be very long before we have the team to do it,” Toews said.

Adam Jahns talked to Ray Emery this week.  Its mostly what was covered in the

“I know they have two goalies that are signed and maybe they have an idea of what they want in net,” Emery told the Sun-Times.  “Hopefully, I go in and change their minds about something and just put a good showing in.”

–Tribune’s Chris Kuc has a story up on Alexander Salak, who arrived in Chicago a week ago to get settled and train at the team’s facilities inside United Center.

According to the story, Salak has settled into new digs in Chicago.  Perhaps getting 50 days ahead of himself with veteran Ray Emery challenging for the backup job in training camp, but if Salak is fazed, he’s not showing it.

“Nothing changes for me — I always work as hard as I can,” Salak told Kuc.  “What happens will happen. I’m just going to work hard and try to stop pucks. All the other things don’t bother me.”

Good attitude to go with.  If he can out-perform Emery for the job in training camp that would subdue, to a degree, reservations I have over handing a guy with two NHL games under his belt a spot that would have one him one groin tear away from wearing the Blackhawks’ fate on his shoulders.  Because if you say goaltending doesn’t matter, or ‘anyone’ can backstop this team, you’re clearly fooling yourself.

Kuc also has newer piece up now on Paul Goodman, Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach, his role and how he sets up off season workout plans and assists Hawks players who don’t necessarily stick around Chicago.

–{Video}  Joanne Hull, wife of Bobby, talks nerves and watching her husband play, being wife of the Golden Jet, 3-year old Brett cheering for Stan Mikita and painting a picture intended for Mr. Wirtz.  [YouTube]  Interview is from an intermission segment of a Leafs-Blackhawks game, March 23, 1968.

–NBC Sports signed Jeremy Roenick for the next five years.  He’ll basically continue what he’s been doing on the network, pre/post/intermission personality – just in a greater capacity.  James Mirtle talked to Roenick last week while he was in Toronto for EA Sports promoting NHL 12.  Roenick reacts to Don Cherry comparisons. [Globe & Mail]

Eddie Olczyk recently helped raise $200k for Edward Hospital’s foundation

–Last pick in the 2011 NHL Draft says his goal is to win Memorial Cup with Sudbury. [Sudbury Star]

Blackhawks selected Swedish goaltender Johan Mattsson with the 30th and final selection in the 7th round and June’s entry draft.  He’ll be one of the goalies when the Hawks send their prospects to the tournament in Oshawa next month and if Mattsson performs well there, he’ll probably be in main camp right after as well.

This is a kid you’re going to want to keep an eye on.  He was signed by Sudbury with the idea he’d be their number one goalie.

“He’s a highly touted guy and we think he can come in and be out backbone, so to speak,” Sudbury coach Trent Cull told the Star.

Mattsson is already 19, so he’s got a year on your standard 2011 draft pick, making him the same age as Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth, the Blackhawks’ only two other long-term goaltending prospects.  Mattsson is tall, 6-4, plays to his size according to scouting reports and obviously aspires to play in North America.  He is also expected to be Sweden’s go-to netminder this winter at the World Junior Championships.   Put all that together with a great season and you could see Mattsson under contract and in Rockford as a 20-year old.  Let’s first get a chance to watch Mattsson perform over the season but it would be interesting to know why every other team passed on him at the draft if knowing he can step right in and start on a top OHL team and backstop a medal-favorite (the Swedes beat the U.S. twice with Mattsson in net at the recent evaluation camp) at the WJC’s.

–Fribourg-Gotteron is attempting to gain permission to allow Cristobal Huet to partake in exhibition matches with the Dragons before the Swiss leaguers regular season opens on September 9.  Huet is in Switzerland training with Fribourg.  They know he’ll miss the first seven games of the Swiss league season.  Huet can’t officially play for the team until he passes through NHL waivers on September 26.  A renewal of the loan exchange agreement for Huet is already in place to assign Huet to Fribourg once he passes through “playing-season” waivers.  Clearing waivers now won’t do it.  In-season waivers begin 12 days before the start of the NHL regular season.

–In addition to NHL veteran Jeff Cowan, joining Jassen Cullimore on the Iserlohn Roosters are Mike York and former Blackhawks’ goaltender (I think he got one start at the UC while Khabibulin was hurt in ‘06) Sebastien Caron.  Also, David Spina, who played for Peoria last year and San Antonio before that, and against Cullimore multiple times with both.  Also Derek Peltier, who also played last season with Peoria.  And former Chicago Wolves defenseman Brett Skinner.

Brent Sopel‘s Mettalurg Novokuznetsk took third place in the KHL preseason tournament – Nizhny Novgorod Region Cup – this weekend defeating Dynamo Moscow 4-3 in overtime.

–Former Blackhawk, and one-time Edmonton Oilers’ captain, Ethan Moreau has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings.  Salary figures are yet to be disclosed.  Moreau has 900 regular season games on his resume, 146 goals and 1,090 penalty minutes.  He’s slowed down and it’s been a couple of years since he’s been a decent contributor as there’s quite a bit of mileage on this 15-year veteran.  He is still a good character guy who can give the Kings some 4th line depth if they need it.  Moreau broke in with the Blackhawks in 1996 playing on a line with Brent Sutter, then Jeff Shantz and even with Denis Savard a bit during his final season.  Moreau was one in a long line of draft picks the Hawks attempted to produce the team’s next great power forward.  Moreau came the closest until Mark Bell showed brief glimpses.  Neither were ever the answer but Moreau more fit the mold of the prototypical Blackhawk than most drafted in that era but he lasted just 3 full seasons before getting shipped up to Edmonton (with Chad Kilger, Dan Cleary and Christian Laflamme) for Boris Mironov and Dean McAmmond.  The 1994 1st round pick (#14 overall) turns 36 next month.

–Rick Rypien’s funeral was held Saturday in Blairmore, Alberta.  Kevin Bieksa was one of the pall bearers.  While it’s not a matter of record yet, its apparent Rypien took is own life.   “Sudden and un-suspicious” is all police will say about it which in a way is suspicious itself.  An autopsy will eventually be out there and we’ll know.  As for those suggesting the NHL/NHLPA substance and behavioral assistance programs failing Rypien or Derek Boogaard; Rypien was a troubled person who apparently dealt with demons long before he ever reached pro hockey.  Rypien never spoke about why he sought help last season, or if he was forced, but he went through the program and was healthy and happy while with the Manitoba Moose in the spring at least.  I suppose the question should be asked if that program kept in regular contract with Rypien this summer, but I don’t know how you save Boogaard from an allegedly enabling brother.  I’m certain there are far more success stories than ones like these.  It’s a sad thing, but not everyone is capable of being or will allow himself to be saved.

That said, the commissioner is saying what he has to about reevaluating the program []

–Richard Peddie, the President & CEO of the Maple Leafs, is stepping down at the end of the calendar year.  Now get this, part of his retirement package guarantees Peddie a Stanley Cup ring if the Leafs somehow attain that goal by 2014.  [Toronto Sun]

–Igor Makarov’s new team SKA, defeated SC Bern in an empty-arena match in Basil, Switzerland on Saturday to reach the finals of an annual preseason tournament with representatives from the major European elite leagues.  Makarov won’t join SKA until they get back to St. Petersburg on Monday.

Fernando Pisani’s place sold.  Now, if Charles Oakley can be so lucky.

–This Thursday, Denis Savard and anthem singer Jim Cornelison will make an appearance at the Peoria Chiefs game.

Justin Hodgman has signed a contract to play in Finland’s elite league this year.  Hodgman, now 23, is a center who attended the Blackhawks summer prospect camp in 2009 after finishing junior with the Erie Otters.  He impressed enough (at least he did me but he must have impressed someone else too because I had nothing to do with this next part) to earn a minor league deal with Rockford but spent that season in Toledo.  Last year Hodgman scored 12 goals and 29 points in 42 games with the Toronto Marlies.

–At this point I’m just throwing this out there but I’m curious to hear from readers if they’d be interested in adding Chicago Wolves coverage through this site.  I really hadn’t thought of it since a few years back when I owned and pegged another domain to possibly broaden TTMI’s base.  I was also, on top of the Hawks, a Wolves’ season ticket holder as well at the time, which I’m not currently.  But it was suggested to me recently by a couple people (ironically in the same week, separate AHL bloggers as well) since I guess there isn’t much if any good independent Wolves’ coverage out there.  At least that anyone’s aware of.  Email me if you have thoughts one way or the other.  But please, do not send me any moronic bullshit like ‘the Canucks are [expletive]’ or ‘we hate those…’  It’s a Chicago based team and this is a Chicago based site.  I’m not sure if I can take another task on myself… but let’s first gauge the level of interest.

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  7 Responses to “Campoli keeps hope alive, Makarov release, Salak, Hawks Swedish net prospect and more”

  1. I think any coverage of local/regional teams is worth including, at least whatever you can w/o making things difficult on yourself. I know I’m going to try to include as much coverage of the new ECHL team (Express) in the area, and I’ll be paying a lot closer attention to the AHL this season as well – both because the Wolves are now Jr. Canucks, so we should expect a better product on the ice out at Allstate – but also because the Charlotte Checkers are now part of the Midwest division in the AHL.

    I’m kind of amused at some articles I’ve seen this weekend suggesting that Chicago hockey is “on the downturn” since it’s been over a year since they won the Cup. The team got revamped – for the better! – this summer; the gritty pieces are back; the core is still there; the STH waitlist is still huge… hockey in Chicago has never been better!

    • Thanks. Yeah, I’ll need to get out to Express games myself. At least when Toledo is in town.

      As far as the “downturn” climate, I think I know which ‘article’ you’re referring to. Someone sent me a link to a blog the other day. I’d just say if you come across something where the author doesn’t know, or care enough to get his or her subjects names spelled correctly, its not worth spending any time mulling over or drawing attention to.

      As for the Hawks, health provided, they will be better this season. The changes are just window dressing and to a degree irrelevant in my opinion. The Blackhawks will be better because their best players will improve and have better years than in 2010-11. Its that simple. I tend not to over-simplify things usually, but that’s the way it is. After all the ballyhoo spilled over last season’s team, the simple fact is when it came down to it, the Canucks best players were better than the Hawks this time around. No one seems to want to admit that, but its true. Toews will improve, I think its safe to say Kane and Keith will. Hossa’s should be. The wild card’s are Hjalmarsson and Leddy, because the team needs both of them to come through with Campbell gone. I don’t know if they take the division from Detroit outright, but the Hawks won’t be in limbo on day 186 this time.

  2. I think Bowman mishandled Campoli – if he really wanted to keep him, he would have signed him before July 1 instead of giving him additional leverage with the Montador comparable.

    This bungling is even more inexcusable since he did the exact same thing last year, not locking up Hjalmarsson before Jul 1 & leaving him exposed to an offer sheet & ending up overpaying to keep him & ultimately losing Niemi for nothing in return.

    Montador & O’Donnnell are not going to replace Campbell, whose skating & puck possession abilities will be missed more than most realize. Campoli, wasn’t going to replace Campbell either, but his mobility & game was closer to #51 than either Montador or Lepisto, his replacement. I think Hjalmarsson will especially miss Campbell’s presence, and be more exposed as well.

    If Bowman thinks that Leddy is ready to step in to fill the hole left by Campbell, that is putting a lot of expectation & pressure on a 20 year old kid – maybe he can handle it, but it would have been better to put him in a supportive role (with lots of support around him) for another year or two, than thrust him into a top 4 role. If he regresses after a very good rookie year, which wouldn’t be all that surprising, Bowman will need to find more help on defense….

    Bowman also hasn’t really upgraded the size/toughness at the back. Seabrook is one head shot away from possibly missing a season (see Crosby) & has been targeted by other teams. O’Donnell is essentially a mentor for Scott, they both won’t be in the lineup at the same time since neither can skate & at 40+, I doubt O’Donnell is looking to drop the gloves too often. Montador isn’t exactly noted for being a tough guy either.

    That will put a lot of pressure on Keith & Seabrook as the top pairing to play a ton of minutes again. They are still young, but they are also human – the more miles they put on, the increased likelihood their game suffers and the more susceptible they become to injury. And with Carcillogen the Cancer taking selfish, stupid penalties, the pk will get lots of practice to try to improve their poor performance from last year.

    Lots of questions on D for the hawks – from what I see, they won’t be as good as last year & that will hurt.

    • You’re right about the defense being the Hawks one potential weakness. There will be a transitional period with Campbell now gone and I imagine Quenneville will do some tweaking to how he wants the put sent up the ice. Hjalmarsson is probably the most important player on the team. For whatever cap space was saved, bottom line is Lepisto must be able to give the Hawks a strong 16-20 minutes a night and play some PK too because if he’s in the lineup, that means O’Donnell is in the press box (if the D is healthy). Montador and O’Donnell help toughen the D around the cage. Hawks didn’t have the bodies, or the want, to win enough man on man battles in front of Crawford/Turco last year. That aspect has improved with the additions. But as a whole, I agree the defense is somewhat of a question mark heading in.

  3. Chris, I look it at this wAy. The hawks rescued campoli from a dismal situation in Ottawa. He comes over to a stanley cup winning team, in which Stan proclaims that campoli is not just a deadline pickup, makes the turnover that costs the hawks the series against Vancouver then has the audacity to take the team to arbitration because he believes he’s worth 3 million a year, wow that takes brass balls. I liked the campoli pickup when it happened but to this day he has been little more ran a depth defenseman. I see where 29 other teams must agree with Stan as campoli is still out there and somebody much more accomplished like Scott hannen is signing for 1 year 1 million. Campoli and his agent blew really good thing in Chicago. Sometimes greed isn’t good, unlike the line in the movie wall street.

    • Hey Craig. I think you know I was no big fan of Campoli. He’s a nice depth guy, nothing more. If I were Stan and Campoli’s agent were asking for $3M per on 2-3 year team, I’d tell him where to go too. But that’s really just part of this issue.

      Lets do this. Say Bowman really did like Campoli as much as he said he did. But let’s say, picking a number, Bowman saw Campoli’s value as a player at $1.5M

      If Stan truly believes this, and it’s a true and accurate assessement, and Bowman really wanted to retain Campoli even after Montador, why not just go to arbitration and argue it then? What does he have to lose? If Bowman can present a case, as is his judgement, that Campoli is a $1.5M per year dman, then just bring that to the arbiter and win the damn case.

      But that’s the problem. Stan knew what he was asking Campoli to sign for was well below what Campoli could get, or what the market would bare. The Hawks wanted Campoli to sign for something below (who knows how far, but lower) than his actual market value.

      I talked to someone earlier who believes the Hawks knew they weren’t keeping Campoli from the moment they got Montador. But also said he felt Bowman did right by Campoli by opting out of the process in mid July instead of the first week of August. That’s fair, if, in the process, they had attempted diligently to get a return for Campoli’s rights.

      Here’s the thing though. If you go on message boards, Campoli is supposedly the idiot, or greedy bastard for wanting too much money. That’s completely missing the obvious in this negotiation. Bowman wanted Campoli to sign for less than market. When you see how the injury rate is climbing and how players, on average, get older quicker in today’s game, why should a player do that? So Campoli’s agent digs his heels in for what he assumes will be tough arbitration case. Weeks go by. The Hawks stop short. Campoli is in no man’s land. Basically the Hawks make a statement that if you’re not willing to do business the their way, they won’t do business.

  4. Chris I absolutely agree with your last statement. Clearly if a player will not do business the hawks way, he’s gone. Unfortunately for campoli he appears to have overplayed his hand. He will not get the 1.5 mil the hawks wanted him to take. Late august is a lousy time to still be out there.

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