Tag Archives: Neil Wilkinson

Hawks re-sign three, part ways with Salak; plus notes on Hawks draft and goaltending, Ed Belfour and Jimmy Waite

By Chris Block

Blackhawks announced they’ve re-signed three restricted free agents today.

Ben Smith, Brandon Bollig and goaltender Carter Hutton all inked new deals.

According to reports, Smith and Bollig each signed two-year contracts.

Bollig’s first year is a two-way deal.  He’ll be paid at a rate of $575,000 in the NHL and $105,000 if he plays in the AHL.  His second year is a one-way contract paying him $575,000.

Ben Smith is also on a two-way contract for 2012-13.  Smith will reportedly earn $550,000 when he’s playing at the NHL level and $105,000 in the minors.  In 2013-14, Smith has a guaranteed contract for $575,000.

Carter Hutton agreed to a one-year, two-way contract.

–On Friday, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Alexander Salak on waivers.  The rest of the league has apparently passed on Salak.  Today it was announced the Blackhawks and Salak agreed to an outright release. Read more »

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MetroCentre renamed, new IceHogs coaches, Nylander comeback, more Hawks news and notes


A couple IceHogs’ notes from last week.

–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. Read more »

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Crawford talks at Draft; Mike Keenan Roast, Hossa at Worlds

Calgary Sun writer Eric Francis has the scoop on the Corey Crawford negotiations.  In Francis’s Sunday Sun column, he noted Crawford’s agent, Gilles Lupien, said he and the Blackhawks are planning to hold the negotiations face-to-face at the NHL Draft June 24-25 in St. Paul.

“The Chicago Blackhawks have identified rookie goalie Corey Crawford as their top priority to re-sign past next season, and Crawford is amenable to it.  His agent, Gilles Lupien, said they spoke three weeks ago and agreed they’ll hammer out a deal face-to-face at the draft where he’ll table three possible deals ranging from two to four years in length.”

If true, one would wonder why the lack of urgency, specifically on the Blackhawks’ side?  This approach is similar to how Stan Bowman handled the Antti Niemi negotiations.

First off, aside from Cristobal Huet, who the Blackhawks still won’t be able to afford on their cap next season barring a major cap cut, the Blackhawks don’t have a single goaltender under contract currently for next season.

Marty Turco is an unrestricted free agent and a possible return is very much in doubt.  Hannu Toivonen is a UFA but if he returns it will be to start in Rockford.  Alexander Salak, the 24 year old Czech acquired in February from the Panthers along with Michael Frolik, is a restricted free agent.  Salak has never played in the NHL and while he ranked as one of the best netminders in Sweden this year, he was an average goaltender in Rochester (AHL) in 2009-10 and the arrival of Jacob Markstrom chased Salak back to Europe.  While Salak’s resume is not too different from Crawford’s pre 2010-11, he’s still unproven and if the Hawks are aiming to be Cup contenders next year, would they really put themselves in a position to have an unproven commodity within an injury of pinning their season on Salak?  Sure, they got lucky with Niemi and Crawford was phenomenal this year despite never asserting himself in five minor league seasons prior to getting his chance.  Going to that well three consecutive years though may not be the smartest thing to do. Read more »

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