By Chris Block
Many teams across the NHL, including the Chicago Blackhawks, have released their 2012 preseason schedules since the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup this past Monday night.
Now, Wayne Gretzky’s All-Stars may have a better chance of playing the United Center this September and early October than the Blackhawks, Penguins, Flyers and Red Wings, nonetheless, the schedule is as follows….
On the road:
Tuesday, September 25 @ Philadelphia – 6pm [central]
Saturday, September 29 @ Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena – 6pm
Friday, October 5 @ Pittsburgh Penguins, Consol Energy Center – 6pm
At the United Center:
Friday, September 28 vs Detroit Red Wings – 7:30pm
Sunday, September 30 vs Pittsburgh Penguins – 6pm
Saturday, October 6 vs Philadelphia Flyers – 7:30pm
–The first thing that jumps off the page is the league’s plan (should the league and player’s association somehow get a new collective bargaining agreement in place by mid-September) to start the season either on Wednesday October 10th or Thursday October 11th, the latest start date in years. The last time the NHL began an unobstructed season as late as October 10th was in 1985. Back then 21 teams each played 80 games. In starting the season during the second week of October this fall, the NHL avoids opening weekend of the MLB playoffs which begin the preceding weekend. Of course this would mean another season culminating well into the month of June.
Other news and notes
— Today is the 43rd anniversary of the Blackhawks picking up goaltender Tony Esposito from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for $25,000 cash.
— Rockford IceHogs assistant coach Ben Simon turned 34 on Thursday. Simon was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 1997 Entry Draft.
Today is Dean McAmmond‘s 39th birthday.
Steve Larmer turns 51 on Saturday.
–Bob Pulford talks the LA Kings run for the Cup and how Bobby Hull was almost traded for Wilt Chamberlain.
More from Pulford, on the Kings winning, his son-in-law (and LA Kings GM) Dean Lombardi and attending Darryl Sutter’s son Brett’s wedding this summer.
–Get the impression Joel Quenneville will announce Mike Haviland’s replacement in the next week. It will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks handle this announcement. Stan Bowman stayed far away from the Haviland dismissal and this is a Joel Quenneville hire. That’s both in terms of reality and by design. Haviland’s dismissal was acknowledged by the team’s web site only in a brief news release that never made the front page of the Hawks’ official web site.
–Hearing Mike Haviland is one of the names up for the Capitals vacant head coaching job. The Chicago Wolves would be a great fit now that Craig MacTavish has gone back to Edmonton in a front office capacity. In that case, Haviland would remain nearby for when the inevitable Bowman-Quenneville final impasse goes down. But, he would have to sign a contract with the Canucks, who may not be easilty inclined to let Haviland go should the Hawks come calling for Haviland in a year or two.
Otherwise, there is a slight chance the Norfolk Admirals could be looking for a new coach since the Tampa Bay Lightning has switched affiliations to the Syracuse Crunch. Syracuse was formerly the Anaheim Ducks affiliate and it’s expected the Ducks will now link up with Norfolk. The Admirals are coming off winning the AHL Calder Cup championship. The coach of that team, Jon Cooper, is under contract to the Tampa Bay Lightning for two more years and will relocate to coach the team in Syracuse should he not get an NHL job. When the Ducks officially announce their new affiliation with Norfolk, they could be in the market for a new head coach. For the second half of the 2011-12 season, the Ducks minor league team (then Syracuse) was co-head coached by Trent Yawney (who left a scouting position on the Ducks staff to join the Crunch in January) and Mark Holick, who was the head coach before Yawney joined the staff on January 10th when the team was stuck at the .500 mark.
Yawney’s contract with the Ducks has expired. So, he would need a new deal. Yawney coached in Norfolk from 2000-05 when the Admirals were the Blackhawks minor league affiliate. Mike Haviland then took over in Norfolk for the 2005-06 season when Yawney was promoted to head coach in Chicago. Haviland coached two seasons in Norfolk, then one in Rockford before being promoted to an assistant coach’s position on the Blackhawks in 2008.
Trent Yawney and family still reside in Chicago and he was stationed here as a Ducks scout. He has said he wants to coach next year.
–Now that Adam Clendening has been signed and is leaving Boston University for the pros, look for the Blackhawks to dangle Shawn Lalonde for an additional draft pick.
Right now Rockford’s defense looks to be Ryan Stanton, Joe Lavin, Ben Youds, Lalonde, Adam Clendening and possibly Klas Dahlbeck. There’s also the possibility of Dylan Olsen starting the season with the IceHogs.
Lalonde hasn’t shown much in his two years in the pros and lost playing time to 5-foot-9 inch defenseman Ben Youds in all situations this past season. Lalonde has an attractive skill set but has failed to put that to good use on the ice and seems to lack the motivation that other prospects have shown. Defensively he is still a total liability. Next year is the final year of Lalonde’s three-year entry level deal and there doesn’t appear to be a future for him in the organization with Clendening (a top prospect with a similar skill set) now in the mix.
The Blackhawks will also look to add a veteran defenseman to the mix in Rockford. In the past two years Garnet Exelby, Jassen Cullimore and Brian Fahey have filled those roles.
Brian Fahey played last season in Rockford under an AHL contract. The Glenview native would be a good fit in a second-pairing role should he want to return, but that is unlikely. He was a grounding influence in the IceHogs dressing room and a steady performer on the ice as well. Fahey also played through injury and pains throughout the second half of the season when the team was making its longshot bid for a postseason placement.
Fahey settled for signing with the IceHogs after he was unable to find a spot on last season’s Chicago Wolves, which were his first choice. Fahey was hanging around Allstate Arena during the Wolves brief playoff appearance in April and he’ll try again this summer.
–No doubt Stan Bowman will also do anything he can do to unload Alexander Salak before the start of next season. Salak is owed $600,000 next season no matter where he plays. The relationship between the Hawks and Salak got off to a rocky start when he was passed over for the backup goaltender job in favor of veteran Ray Emery after training camp last fall and never really got back on track. Salak wasn’t happy about being sent to Rockford and was given an unofficial suspension from the IceHogs after reporting. Salak’s on-ice blow up in Hamilton on February 18th served as the final straw when he pulled himself from the game after allowing three goals in a 38-second span in blowing a 2-1 lead late in the game. Salak started just 2 of Rockford’s final 23 games following that incident.
–It will be a lot harder for Bowman to move Rostislav Olesz’s contract.
Olesz has two years remaining on his contract. While his cap hit is $3.125M (as calculated under the current CBA), Olesz is owed $4.0M in 2012-13 and $4.25M in 2013-14.
While the IceHogs could use Olesz’s offense, its going to be difficult for Bowman to justify paying a minor leaguer $8.25M over the next two years. Olesz seems to be content staying in North America, playing in the minors and collecting the money owed to him. Why wouldn’t he be? He probably won’t get that type of money anywhere in Europe even consider the tax breaks in some places over on the other side of the Atlantic.
Olesz’s season was cut short by a minor knee injury on April 1st in Milwaukee. In 50 games with the IceHogs, Olesz scored 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. Not great numbers for a guy who could mostly dominate play at the AHL level when he chose to.
—Alexander Broadhurst, 19, has opted out of attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall in favor of major-junior hockey in Canada. Alex was recently named to the USHL First All-Star team after an outstanding season for the powerhouse Green Bay Gamblers. Broadhurst more than doubled his offensive output in his second season with Green Bay, scoring 26 goals and 47 assists in 53 games during the 2011-12 season.
Alex has been offered a contract by the London (Ontario) Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Blackhawks drafted Alex Broadhurst, an Orland Park, Illinois native, last summer in the 7th round of the NHL Entry Draft. They selected Alex 199th overall, a pick the Hawks currently own in this year’s draft as well.
Alex’s older brother Terry Broadhurst, 23, signed his first professional contract with the Blackhawks in March after completing his junior season at Nebraska-Omaha. At the time, Terry admitted to us his younger brother Alex was disappointed Terry decided to leave school early, spoiling an opportunity for the two brothers to play together for one year in Omaha, although both had known for months that was the likely scenario.
The Broadhurst brothers are both fast and skilled. Though both are about 5-10ish and very slight.
–Conan O’Brien borrowed two United Center t-shirt launchers from the Blackhawks this week to use on his show. O’Brien handed the launchers off to actor Andy Samberg who launched florescent G-string underwear into the audience at the Chicago Theatre using the United Center launchers.
–Enforcer Georges Laraque is looking to attempt a comeback
Want to make a final mention of two events we’re attending this weekend.
Also, there is an American Cancer Society benefit on Saturday night at All-Stars Bar & Grill, which is downtown near the corner of Wacker and Wells by the Chicago River. Address is 205 W Wacker Drive or 222 N. Wells. The event costs $30 dollars and includes open bar and food from 7 to 10pm. There will also be raffles with proceeds going to benefit the American Cancer Society.