Aug 132011
 

Photo: SI.com

We have an update here on Cristobal Huet’s status for the 2011-12 season, the final year on his 4-year $22.5 million contract.

For all intents and purposes, the loan transfer agreement between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Fribourg-Gotteron Dragons was settled a couple of weeks back.  Barring any unforeseen developments or a catastrophic injury situation, Huet will not be a part of the Blackhawks organization again in 2011-12.

The Blackhawks will still pay Huet his $5.625M salary for the 2011-12 season and the goaltender will sign another contract with the Swiss National League team.  The France native signed a one-year deal with Fribourg-Gotteron last August but could not be assigned from the Blackhawks until late September because of NHL waiver requirements.

Huet, who turns 36 on September 3rd, is in Switzerland now and training with Gotteron.  In the past couple of days, he’s also been added to the roster on the Dragons’ web site.  At this point, however, the transfer won’t be official until late September.  The team’s preseason exhibition schedule is already underway. Continue reading »

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Aug 122011
 


2010-11 was great year for avid consumers and readers of hockey books.  At this point we’ll take a wait and see approach to measure this coming year’s crop, but there are a few standouts hitting your favorite book outlets before Christmas.

–First, though – Gamers, NHL 12, via EA Sports, for Xbox and PS3 hits stores on Tuesday, Sept 13th.  Steven Stamkos is this year’s cover boy, succeeding Jonathan Toews.  Among the additions to this year’s game are Wayne Gretzky and the Winter Classic game at Heinz Field.

For readers….

Wiley Publications has three new books hitting the market before the end of the year.

Adam Proteau has a book coming out in December.  The title, “Fighting the Good Fight: Why On-Ice Violence is Killing Hockey,” is sure to ruffle some eyebrows.  Proteau is a staunch advocate of eliminating fighting in hockey.  While I’m not really on board with that idea, I am looking forward to this book.  It’s listed at 288 pages, so hopefully it’s an all-encompassing look at the violence issues plaguing the game, not limited to goonery, and possible steps to be taken to curb those, instead of steering it mostly towards fighting.

Former Maple Leafs general manager Gord Stellick also has a book forthcoming on November 8th.  Stellick is now a sports talk radio personality in Toronto.  Stellicktricity promises to be chock full of wit, anecdotal insight on some of the game’s biggest names.   Sounds like it will be similar to Steve Ludzik’s book Been There Done That. — Continue reading »

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Aug 082011
 

–We are now 60 days away from opening night of the Blackhawks’ regular season.  The AHL’s too for that matter.

Rockford IceHogs have announced two preseason home games.  Both will be played at the MetroCentre.

Wed Sept 28 vs Chicago Wolves, 7:05pm
Sat Oct 01 vs Peoria Rivermen, 7:05pm

The IceHogs will have one other exhibition game in Milwaukee on September 30th.  That game will be played at the Milwaukee School of Engineering inside the Kern Center.

–Hearing now the loan agreement of Cristobal Huet between the Blackhawks and Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss National League is a done deal. Continue reading »

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Aug 022011
 


It appears Cristobal Huet will ride out the final year of his Blackhawks’ contract in Europe again this season.  Huet is apparently in negotiations to rejoin Fribourg-Gotteron of Switzerland’s National-A league for their 2011-12 season.  There had been reports in French and German newspapers indicating Huet was set to join the team for a second season.  However, a statement released by Fribourg-Gotteron on Tuesday stated that a loan agreement with the Blackhawks is not yet finalized.

Should a deal be worked out, Huet would again be teammates with former Chicago Wolves’ winger Simon Gamache.  He’d also have a new one.  Former Blackhawk defenseman and 2003 2nd round pick (59th overall), Michal Barinka has joined Fribourg-Gotteron after time in the Czech and KHL (Yaroslavl) leagues last season.

Despite a strong 2010-11 campaign, Huet was unable to carry a lackluster Fribourg-Gotteron roster above their 22-22-3-3 record, good enough for an 8th place finish out of 12 teams.  Huet did not play well, nor did he get much help, in the team’s brief 4-games-to-none playoff exit at the hands of eventual Swiss league champion, HC Davos.

Fribourg opens training camp this week.  Their regular season begins on the road, September 9th against Jussi Markkanen, Andy Wozniewski, Glen Metropolit; members of EV Zug. Continue reading »

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Aug 012011
 

If, as Rocky Wirtz claims, the Blackhawks are still operating in the red through this past season, the company will have its work cut out for itself this coming year.

As things stand now, the Blackhawks will spend a minimum-projected $77 million on player salaries in 2011-12.  This is about an $8.5 million increase on what was spent in 2010-11, $68.5M.  The Hawks spent $66.0M in 2009-10, including performances bonuses ($4.1M) that went penalized against the Hawks cap the following season.

While the team at this point sits roughly $3M under the $64.3M salary cap ceiling with the roster one player over the 23-man limit, several factors will have the team spending almost $13 million more than the “upper limit.” Continue reading »

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Jul 292011
 


–Patrick Sharp
talks contract from Thunder Bay, rehabbing his injured knee.

On negotiations with the Blackhawks on a new contract extension, Sharp said there was nothing new to report.  “I like Chicago.  I want to stay there,” Sharp told TBNewswire.com.  “I’m pretty sure they’d like to keep me as well.  We’ll see how things play out.”

–According to the Blackhawks’ roster page at ChicagoBlackhawks.com, Ben Smith has changed his number from #57 to #28…. Alexander Salak will wear #53…. Sami Lepisto does not have a number at this point… In case you missed numbers on the other new Hawks; Steve Montador is #5… Sean O’Donnell is #6… Daniel Carcillo is #13… Andrew Brunette is #15… and Jamal Mayers is #22. Continue reading »

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Jul 272011
 

TheThirdManIn~Radio returns Thursday night, still on BlogTalkRadio, live at a special time of 8pm eastern/7pm central.

Dieter Kurtenbach will join me to discuss all the latest actions, comings and goings in the world of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Since its been a couple of weeks since we’ve been on we haven’t had a chance to discuss Michael Frolik’s new contract nor Chris Campoli’s abrupt dismissal.  We’ll discuss Patrick Kane’s wrist injury and rank the peculiar nature of the back story.  And we’ll outline the Hawks’ cap status and what Stan Bowman could have in mind down the line, how he did and a few unrestricted free agents he passed up on.

Getting current, we’ll talk Blackhawks’ goaltending, Ray Emery and how one person’s departure has been severely overlooked.

We’ll take a look at the state of the Blackhawks defense, present and future; this year’s most important Blackhawk, team chemistry, Ted Dent, Kyle Beach and possibly a few listener emails.

The Florida Panthers are Dieter’s new team by a relocation of his own and he’ll give us a read on Panthers fever in South Florida.  And we’ll also peer into the curious case of Brandon Saad.

All this and more on tomorrow night’s (probably today by the time most of you read this) TTMI~Radio.  ITunes users can subscribe or download our shows here.

TheThirdManIn@sbcglobal.net

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Jul 262011
 


Jassen Cullimore
will skate in Germany this season.

On Monday, Cullimore signed with the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).  Cullimore will join the team for training camp next month.  The Roosters’ season begins on September 16.  He joins goaltender Manny Legace and former Rockford IceHogs’ defenseman Prestin Ryan on the Iserlohn team.  Iserlohn [IEC] missed the playoffs last season and finished 12th out of 14 DEL teams.  Cullimore turns 39 in December.

While re-signing Cullimore was never a sure-thing, this does leave an important hole on the IceHogs’ defense.

Right now their top five is Ryan Stanton, Brian Connelly, Joe Lavin, Dylan Olsen and Shawn Lalonde.  With the exception of Stanton, Rockford’s defense, as currently constructed, is at best modest in their responsibilities south of the offensive blue line.  Simon Danis-Pepin is in the mix as well, but his skating was still barely AHL-level in April.  Rockford will need a veteran shut-down defenseman.  Connelly can now be considered a vet on the offensive side, but he can’t mind Lalonde in the defensive zone and you really shouldn’t count on Olsen to do that just yet, at least to start the season.  Continue reading »

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Jul 252011
 


Chris Campoli
this past Thursday on his stay in Chicago

I have nothing but great things to say about it.  It didn’t work out contract wise with them, but they’re a first-class organization.  The fans were unbelievable.  The city is absolutely amazing.  I really enjoyed being there and I was very fortunate to be able join the team when I did.”  [Fan 590 Toronto]

He wasn’t asked at all about the failed negotiations with the Blackhawks.  This also a day after the Hawks officially cut Campoli loose on the UFA market.  The Chicago comments came as Campoli was asked to summarize or compare each place he’s played thus far in the NHL.  Simply a waste of time, a terrible interview.

Martin Lapointe, who’s served as a pro scout for the past two seasons, is no longer listed in that, or any other capacity on the Blackhawks official web site.

In case you hadn’t heard…. Continue reading »

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Jul 022011
 

Tim Sassone this afternoon on Twitter hinted of “whispers” he’s hearing out of Montreal on a potential trade involving the Blackhawks and Canadiens.  Sassone suggested Habs’ winger, and former Chicago Blackhawk, Travis Moen could be part of the deal.  Moen skated for the Hawks in the season prior to the 2004-05 lockout and was then dealt by GM Dale Tallon to Anaheim for Swedish utility forward Michael Holmqvist.  In all, Moen was a part of the Blackhawks organization for three years, playing in Norfolk in 02-03 and 04-05.

Sassone also intimated one “or more” of the Blackhawks restricted free agents would be headed to the Canadiens as part of the rumored talks.  My guess is the player would be Viktor Stalberg, who in college at the University of Vermont was nicknamed the “Swedish Rocket.”

Moen, 29, would give the Hawks some added size (6-2, 216) and grit they’re missing with Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky now gone.  Andrew Brunnette has a great knack for the puck around the net but he’s not overly big (6-1, 215) and he’s not a banger.  Jamal Mayers may not play much if he even makes the team.  Daniel Carcillo is not big and doesn’t intimidate anyone, just annoys them.  John Scott is pushed further and further away from the ice with each Stan Bowman move, despite the GM’s comments of wanting to get Scott more ice time.  Sean O’Donnell (as a part-timer) and Steve Montador have addressed the team’s need for muscle and toughness on the blue line, but it’s still a work in progress at forward.

Travis Moen is entering the final year of a 3-year contract and has a cap hit of $1.5M.  The expiring deal fits in mold Stan Bowman is setting with his free agent transactions, save Montador.  Chicago is wisely apprehensive to committing any more long-term dollars in looking ahead to the next collective bargaining agreement.  Patrick Sharp will get his, but outside of him I can’t see the Hawks taking another big contract on without moving one they already have or another of today’s RFAs.

As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, Stalberg would be a nice luxury to have as a fourth liner.  With his speed and modest skill, Stalberg gives the Hawks a threat on that line.  There aren’t many teams who can throw the kind of speed Stalberg has on their fourth lines, and since coaches typically match fourth lines against the other, having Stalberg’s size (6-3, 210) and wheels would give the Hawks an advantage against most other teams in that respect.  And Stalberg has enough skill to fill in on scoring lines when injuries warrant or Joel Quenneville is treating his line up card like a Rubik’s cube.

Moen has never been a scorer (career high is 11 goals, with ANA in 2006-07), but is a tough, consistent forechecker and best utilized in a checking line role.  He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 in that checking role with Rob Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson.

There are still moves to be made and free agents to sign, and Moen is at this point just an interesting rumor, so we won’t get into where he’d fit in the Hawks’ line up.  But, again, (I guess I am doing it anyway) he’s best in that third line checking role, which would mean breaking up the Bolland-Frolik-Bickell trio Bowman was been so fond of.  Possibly moving Bickell up to a scoring line, with Brunette being the other scoring line left winger if Sharp’s staying at center.  If there’s another plan in store for center and Sharp is making a permanent home at left win, then Moen or Bickell drop to the fourth line and one or more of the July 1st acquisitions would be in the press box or sent packing.  Regardless, Moen could be a nice depth acquisition, with an affordable expiring contract.

— In other news, Chris Kuc has a Q&A up today with the Blackhawks ChairmanRocky Wirtz has been elected to the NHL Board of Directors.  Just in time for a CBA overhaul.  Rocky also tells Kuc that his team is still losing money.

Before anyone freaks about over the chairman’s claim (he also did this last year), the team is still reimbursing years of loans from Wirtz Corp.  In the interview Wirtz claimed it would take another four years before the team could operate on its own in the black.  Even then, with the NHL economy and national television rights fees locked in for the next ten years, and also money his team spends, it’s doubtful they’ll ever turn huge profits.

Rocky Wirtz also talks to Kuc about raising ticket prices, looking back at bad deals and signing Cristobal Huet’s paycheck.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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