Tag Archives: Brent Sopel

Mikita talks cancer, Bergevin on new Personalities, Dent on IceHogs, 3rd jersey axed, notes on Berard, Campoli and a Sutter


Stan Mikita
feeling good in spite of cancer battle  [Brian Hedger, NHL.com]

Mikita meets his doctors in ten days to find out where he’s at with his Stage 1 oral cancer.

“I’m looking for very favorable comments from him (the doctor),” Mikita told Hedger.  “The treatments went well.  It wasn’t really bad for me.  It’s been coming along real well.”

–More from Hedger’s Blackhawks’ notebook – Stuff on Marian Hossa’s math, Patrick Kane’s on-time wrist recovery and David Bolland loving Daniel Carcillo.

Video of Mikita speaking to media at Monday’s Blackhawks Alumni golf event at Medinah Country Club.  [CSN Chicago]  Comments from an antsy Bolland and Stan Bowman as well in that clip.

–Assistant general manager Marc Bergevin in an interview on a Toronto radio station Monday, talked about this summer’s roster shakeup, the addition of what Bergevin termed, “personality” to the team’s core roster.

“We felt we are skilled enough to get us into the playoffs.  We just need the character to get us through the playoffs,” Bergevin explained.

“And that’s what we had when we did win.  Then we lost guys like Ladd, Byfuglien, and Versteeg and Sopel.   Guys who were warriors, that did the little things to make the other team accountable.  They made the other team realize ‘this is going to be a battle tonight.’   That’s what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.

“You can’t win with twelve skilled forwards and six skilled defensemen, because there is dirty work that needs to be done and there are only certain players that are willing to do that.” he concluded. Read more »

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Campoli keeps hope alive, Makarov release, Salak, Hawks Swedish net prospect and more

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.” Read more »

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IceHogs preseason games, Huet, Emery, Kane, Carcillo, Hawks prospects, Sopel and more

–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. Read more »

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Huet transfer movement, Sopel talks Siberia, Fraser grievance, Bickell’s recovery, coaching moves and much more


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. Read more »

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Sharp talks contract extension, new Hawk numbers, Keenan coaching rumor, Sopel chooses Siberia and more


–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. Read more »

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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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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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Lindbloom: The Phantom of Rogers Arena

The Phantom of Rogers Arena

The Phantom of the Rogers Arena

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication!
Touch me, trust me savour each sensation!
Let the dream begin
let your darker side give in
to the power of the music that I write –
the power of the music of the night. –
 Charles Hart

I’m guessing most Blackhawk fans have never been to a musical – if you haven’t, skip this paragraph and go right to the one where it starts out, “We got a rope, we got a tree, all we need is a referee.” For those of you who have, I’m sure you would agree that the human voice has the uncanny power to evoke emotion sequestered away in the dark recesses of our hearts. If you just spend a moment reading the lyrics to the song Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, you’ll discover one of those gems whose worth can never be told. The song actually helped me get over the Blackhawk victory that was snatched away somewhere in the depth’s or Rogers Arena Friday night. While I tossed and turned, reflecting on the “phantom” calls that contributed to our demise, I finally surrendered “to my darkest dreams.” Read more »

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Lindbloom: Now Make It Mellow

Tighten Up

By Rich Lindbloom

[Author’s note: Before attempting to read the following article, you must Google two songs. First the “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells and then “Emma,” by the Sisters of Mercy.]

There is a new buzz word circling amongst the “woe is us” naysayers who are attempting to define and label this year’s enigmatic Blackhawks. For those who have had front row seats to their disasters, the word is becoming as firmly entrenched as an inscription on a gravestone. The Hawks have been unofficially christened with the word “inconsistent.” As usual, I beg to differ.

First off, there is the illusion that being consistent is better than being inconsistent. Bernard Berenson once said “consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” In my whimsical mind, this year’s Hawks would more aptly be described by the word – persistence.

Following the Blackhawks this year has not been for the faint of heart. It is the classical example of Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, only to see it come tumbling down again. While pondering our persistent frustrations with the Blackhawks this year, I heard a song on the radio played that could hold the key to our success as we head down the stretch. Read more »

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