Category Archives: Chicago Black Hawks
Word about the record started trickling into the Blackhawks’ dressing room after their victory Friday against the San Jose Sharks.
The Hawks were closing in on the most successful start in NHL history. Not only that, but the three teams to go the furthest into a
season without losing a game in regulation — a group the Hawks had joined with that victory — all had won the Stanley Cup.
The 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks started 12-0-4 and finished as champions. The 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers started 12-0-3 and finished as champions. The 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens started 11-0-3 and finished as champions.
‘‘Interesting stat,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
The Hawks are 12-0-3, the second-best season-opening point streak in NHL history. A victory or overtime/shootout loss Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center would match the all-time mark. They could break it Friday against the Sharks.
Despite months of rumors, the season opened with Roberto Luongo still in Vancouver, albeit with his status changed from franchise goalie to Cory Schneider’s backup. Not a good look, and not one likely to remain long, given his $5.33 million cap hit. The most logical landing spots for Bobby Lu are Toronto or Florida (where he formerly wore his Apollo 13-sized pads). One source claims Brian Burke, recently pushed aside as Leafs GM, worked out a deal for Luongo with Canucks GM Mike Gillis over the summer, one that would have delivered the goalie to Toronto when the lockout ended. Ex-Canucks exec Dave Nonis, now the Leafs GM, made the deal in 2006 that brought Luongo to Vancouver and also signed him to his monster contract. Toronto remains the front-runner for Luongo, but that could change rapidly, if a club with shaky goaltending (Chicago?) stumbles out of the gate.
When Roberto Luongo leaves the Canucks, he will depart as the city’s greatest-ever goaltender.
When he is traded, he will leave with a gold medal, two shutouts in the Stanley Cup final, and a resume which says “Hart Trophy finalist.”
He will leave with at least 13 more wins and 13 more shutouts than Kirk McLean — and that’s in 130 fewer Canucks games.
The addition of defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Chicago Blackhawks blue-line on Tuesday only comes as a surprise in relation to timing. With all eyes focused on the final week before a lockout occurs the Hawks are still “minding the store” by picking up their second player this offseason, and it just also happens to be their second defenseman.
He better provide something more, because at a reported $2 million for the his one-year deal, he’s not just a minor, depth type of pick-up. League sources say the New York Rangers were interested, but the Hawks outbid them by a wide margin.
Rozsival will play, which makes the deal worth analyzing that much more. Though he’s not the most self-motivated individual and it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy, he’s got some talent left if he applies himself. Either way, he more than likely starts as a No. 5 defenseman who will see penalty-killing time as a good shot blocker and perhaps a few minutes on the power play if there are injuries.
He has a decent shot, and that’s not exactly a strength of Hawks defensemen.
But this move adds to a crowded blue-line which means a veteran or even a younger player will probably be on the move, either to the minors or out of town completely. Rozsival joins holdovers Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Montador and Dylan Olsen on a team that also signed Brookbank in July. That’s nine players for six spots while, at most, two would be watching from the stands. So who goes?
The easy answer would be Olsen. He’s on a two-way contract and with the Hawks in an urgent situation to win, bringing along a young defenseman might not be a luxury they want to deal with. It’s known that Joel Quenneville likes Olsen but that might not matter. More on that in a moment.
Once again the idea of the Chicago Blackhawks trading for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has reared its ugly head. Over the weekend, a story in the Vancouver Province said the teams have been talking and “reportedly” the Hawks have dangled Dave Bolland for the embattled netminder.
There are so many reasons this would be a bad idea it’s hard to pick the best one. In fact, trading anyone for Luongo remains a poor notion. Talk about creating a bigger headache than you already have …
Bolland is a valuable player. For what the Hawks need out of Luongo he simply may not be. At least not for what his contract dictates him to be. If he still was, the Canucks would not be trading him. And the Hawks are short on centers as it is. Potentially upgrading themselves in goal will only come back to haunt them up the middle. Most important is the idea that the Canucks believe they can get full value — which Bolland would be — for Luongo. The whole league knows he’s being moved. If the Hawks trade a quasi top-6 forward for Luongo, Vancouver would be committing highway robbery.
And no matter his public proclamations, Luongo doesn’t want any part of leaving one pressure cooker for another. Not a chance. His leash with fans in Chicago wouldn’t last through the fan convention this weekend let alone his first soft goal. The Hawks know this. There has been no indication from them — publicly or privately — throughout the offseason that they are interested in Luongo other than perhaps the usual perfunctory phone calls that can be chalked up to due diligence.
The Chicago Blackhawks were one of several teams inquiring about future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur when the free-agency period opened on Sunday. They have their goaltending concerns, obviously, after Corey Crawford’s rocky sophomore season. You don’t ask about any other goaltender – and a 40-year-old goaltender, to boot – if you’re not a little worried about your situation.
But as Sunday night drew to a close, it appeared that Brodeur’s test of the free-agency waters didn’t make it out of the shallow end.
Darren Dreger of TSN.ca reported late Sunday that the Devils were offering Brodeur a two-year deal. It’s a chance for Brodeur to finish his career as a Devil, and if he accepts the deal it would be a somewhat expected conclusion.
Which brings us back to the Blackhawks’ goaltending. I asked general manager Stan Bowman about Crawford when the GMs met briefly in New York during the Stanley Cup Finals. Did he believe Crawford could return to rookie-year glory this season?
Veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur is staying with the only NHL franchise he’s ever played for.
After hiring agent Pat Brisson and testing Sunday’s free agent market, Brodeur signed a two-year, $9 million contract to stay with the New Jersey Devils.
“I’m really happy,” Brodeur told ESPN.com. “Deep down what I always wanted was to re-sign with New Jersey. I’m glad the Devils stepped up when they did. As the process went on I was certainly intrigued by what was out there. But this is really what I wanted.”
With the salary cap at $70.2 million for the time being, Bowman has more than $8 million at his disposal. The Hawks also have been dangling defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, so more cap room may become available.
Here’s a look at free agency:
Notable unrestricted free agents
Zach Parise (Devils), Shane Doan (Coyotes), Olli Jokinen (Flames), Dustin Penner (Kings), P.A, Parenteau (Islanders), Jaromir Jagr (Flyers)
There are plenty of big names out there — even more so, considering the Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash and the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan are available via trades — but the Hawks have to fix their holes at center. Their lack of depth up the middle has hurt matchups and been exposed far too much.
It’s not just on the second line, either. They simply need more legitimate centermen – not wings capable of handling the middle — who are solid in the faceoff circle but can competently handle all the responsibilities associated with the position. The Hawks had depth in the middle when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, just as the Kings did this past season.
There are plenty of playmaking wings available. Parise is coveted by everyone, and Doan could provide an aggressive edge and some veteran savvy. Both should be pitched.
Ryan Suter (Predators), Matt Carle (Flyers), Jason Garrison (Panthers)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Incumbent: James Reimer, 24, signed through 2013-14
Goals against in 2011-12: 259 (29th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 182 (29th in NHL)
Why here: In his season-ending news conference, general manager Brian Burke said the Leafs had tried and failed to acquire a veteran goaltender before the trade deadline. When asked about trying his luck this summer, he said: “We’ll have to see what the options are, and what the price tags are.” Reimer had a save-percentage of .900 last season — Luongo had a .919
Incumbent: José Theodore, signed through 2012-13
Goals against in 2011-12: 216 (12th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 144 (8th in NHL)
Why here: If the Tampa Bay Lightning have removed themselves from the market with the acquisition of Anders Lindback from Nashville last week, the Panthers would become another intriguing trading partner for the Canucks. Luongo played five seasons with the Panthers
Incumbent: Corey Crawford, 27, signed through 2013-14
Goals against in 2011-12: 231 (22nd in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 170 (27th in NHL)
Why here: According to capgeek.com, the Blackhawks have 23 players under contract, with about US$8.2-million left under the cap. That would leave more than enough space to fit Luongo.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Incumbent: Steve Mason, 24, signed through 2012-13
Goals against in 2011-12: 257 (28th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: (166 (26th in NHL)
Why here: Columbus finished 46 points behind Vancouver, holding the polar opposite position in the NHL standings.
Incumbent: Roberto Luongo, signed through 2022-23, Cory Schneider, restricted free agent on July 1
Goals against in 2011-12: 191 (4th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 135 (6th in NHL)
Why here: Gillis has the laws of supply and demand working in his favour. The supply of proven or potential starters has dwindled, with Lindback (Tampa Bay, via trade with Nashville)
Luke Schenn, Toronto
The Maple Leafs love the depth they have on the blue line, and though others might not think it’s that great, Schenn is a guy who would have the best chance of being on the move if Brian Burke can pull off a trade. Schenn has been involved in speculation for months, and wouldn’t be the least surprised if he is traded. Including Schenn in a trade would be a lot easier for Burke to swallow than, say, using Jake Gardiner as a piece of a deal. Toronto is ready to promote Korbinian Holzer to the NHL next season, and there will not be room for everyone on the Leafs blue line. Schenn’s contract is fairly cap-friendly, another factor that could make him attractive.
Patrick Kane, Chicago
As much as the Blackhawks would love to see Kane get his life in order away from the rink (few NHLers are as aware of the power of pictures posted on-line as much as Kane), it’s not a stretch to wonder if the 23-year-old will figure it out. Though he is coming off the least-productive of his five NHL seasons — he had 66 points in 82 games — Kane remains one of the brightest young stars in the league, and every other team could convince itself rather easily that it can be the one to send him on the proper off-ice path. The Hawks should be assured of getting a strong young player in return if they decide to deal Kane.
Devils winger Zach Parise wouldn’t be able to count his scoring chances during the Stanley Cup finals on his two hands if he wanted to.
Of all the Devils, Parise has felt the sting of running into the wall that is Kings goalie Jonathan Quick the most.
Parise has no points in the finals. He and fellow star Ilya Kovalchuk’s minimal production have stood out in a series that would be much different for the Devils, who are in an unenviable 3-1 hole after winning Game 4, if their two best threats had converted. All they have is an empty-net goal between them.
“We do need to score; that’s our job and that’s our responsibility,” Parise said, repeating a common refrain.
But the lack of production doesn’t negate the type of player Parise is, nor will it affect New Jersey’s desire to re-sign him or
numerous teams to pursue him.
Parise is one of two prized unrestricted free agents this summer, the other being Predators defenseman Ryan Suter.