Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Sources tell TSN the Hawks are in the process of finalizing long-term contract extensions for Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.
Kane and Toews are believed to be getting five-year extensions, with each of them worth in excess of $6 million per year. An announcement on those two deals appears to be imminent.
Keith’s deal is said to be more complicated, perhaps as long as 13 years, and worth less than what the Hawks will pay their two star forwards, which is to suggest it will likely average less than $6 million per year. Because the NHL is so closely scrutinizing the ultra long-term contracts, it may take longer to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s on the Keith extension.
from Len Ziehm of the Chicago Sun-Times,
It’s no secret the Blackhawks want to keep Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith around for a long time, but—despite recent published reports—none are signed for next year yet.
“I guess there’s a little bit of a rumor out there,” Kane said after practice on Tuesday, “but it’s between my agent and Stan (Hawks’ general manager Stan Bowman) and the Blackhawks’ organization.”
Because the NHL’s salary cap might drop for next season Bowman could be facing a big challenge in keeping the nucleus of his promising, young team together. Signing all three stars might be difficult, and the reports of an imminent signing of any of them could be premature.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
• To clear matters, Niedermayer sent ESPN.com this comment on Saturday prior to his game in Detroit: “I don’t want to be traded. I love it in Anaheim, and the only thing I’m focused on right now is helping our team get back on track and make the playoffs. That’s it.”
Via text message to ESPN.com, Murray also reiterated that he has no intention of trading Niedermayer, UFA July 1, and wants to see the future Hall of Fame retire a Duck….
• I don’t think it was ever in doubt, but I’m hearing that talks between the Chicago Blackhawks and star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are going very well and that both sides are close to a deal. Both players are slated for restricted free agency July 1, and other GMs were salivating at the chance at plunking down offer sheets for them, but that’s not going to happen. I would expect an announcement sometime in the next two weeks.
more chatter and talk…
Inconclusive was the final ruling on the no-goal in last night’s Leafs/Blackhawks game.
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
“There are unwritten rules among the players,” Toews said, after the Blackhawks morning skate…
”It’s not a perfect world. Some guys do respect each other, and some guys don’t. You want to play hard within the rules of the game – and a lot of guys have that attitude,” Toews continued.
“But then you look at … some of these hits … and they (players) are going in at an unnecessary speed.”
And what if a player does that and then sits in the dressing room and says he didn’t mean to injure an opponent?
“If you’re going to sit there and answer questions after you hit somebody like that and say you didn’t want to hurt them - you’re lying through your teeth,” Toews said.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The Blackhawks are a Western Conference contender. The Leafs, after a blip of promise last weekend against Carolina and Detroit, descended once more into maddening mediocrity Tuesday in a loss to lowly Minnesota.
Whereas not so long ago Chicago could be mocked as a historic franchise that had lost its way, today it’s the Leafs that can only report excellence in the Forbes standings, not the NHL’s. The Windy City has already been lauded for hosting a superb Winter Classic, while Brian Burke’s promises of doing something similar at BMO Field – no Wrigley, to be sure – ring somewhat hollow.
Nobody would have thought five years ago the Leafs would be sucking the exhaust fumes of the Hawks, but that’s where we are.
One franchise stood still, the other caught the gusts of a new NHL.
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles,
Huet appears to have turned things around after his horrendous start.
Since that ugly loss to Dallas on Oct. 17, Huet has gone 5-2, allowing only 11 goals. And in those two losses, the Hawks were shutout 2-0 at Nashville and lost 3-1 at Phoenix.
Huet has improved his goals-against average to 2.21 and brought his save percentage back over .900 at .901 from a low of .844.
“I feel loose, ready to compete every night and help play the best we can and win some games,” Huet said following Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Avalanche in a shootout.
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosenBlog,
I don’t know how much money the Hawks have under the salary cap, nor do I know whether general manager Stan Bowman wants to do the seemingly annual Forsberg fox trot, but it’s at least worth discussing for this team right now….
Perhaps the Hawks aren’t interested in the risk of an oft-injured player, but I believe they are a team Forsberg would like to consider because they have a familiar face behind the bench and play an Avalanche-type uptempo style, and they are a contender. That’s an important factor. Forsberg isn’t going to come back to play for Carolina or Toronto.
from Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Center Jonathan Toews and left wing Ben Eager are expected to return to the lineup tonight from their concussions, which should give the Hawks a boost.
Toews has missed the last six games and Eager the last 13.
“I’m definitely feeling better,” Toews said Sunday. “I have my jump and my energy back. I definitely feel I have my rhythm back.”
Toews centered a line for Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien at Sunday’s practice while Eager skated with Colin Fraser and Andrew Ebbett.
Toews also was back on the power play, which is just 3-for-35 over the last eight games.
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles,
What’s happened to the offense?
The Hawks have scored 11 goals in the last six games and not more than 3 in a game since Oct. 14. And it’s not all because the power play is 2-for-32 after a 0-for-6 performance in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Coyotes.
Only Patrick Sharp (6) and Dustin Byfuglien (5) have scored more than 4 goals.
Patrick Kane needs to step up. Byfuglien has looked more like the inconsistent Byfuglien from last season. Sharp is up and down. Andrew Ebbett is not cutting it by any means and could be back on waivers soon.
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