“We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract. Unfortunately, he felt it was in his best interests to become a free agent.” – Stan Bowman
The Blackhawks issued a statement today which confirmed news that anyone who has been paying attention knew three months ago: Kevin Hayes will not sign his entry level contract with the Blackhawks. The team will receive a compensatory 2nd round draft pick (54th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, which is thought to be quite deep by people who seem to know that sort of thing. Hayes will be eligible to sign with another team at midnight.
It’s common knowledge that Hayes desires to play in the NHL immediately. Accordingly, he’s been linked to teams such as Calgary, Florida, Colorado (laughable bottom six) and the suddenly depleted New York Rangers. One would think teams like Edmonton (who would be insane to start running the clock on Leon Draisaitl) and Vancouver would be interested as well. Most of the scuttlebutt seems to focus around Calgary and Florida, though. If you believe Hayes just wants to play, Calgary is probably the most logical destination due to the ample number of jobs up for grabs and the presence of his college flame, Johnny Gaudreau. Many will tell you that Gaudreau made Kevin Hayes at Boston College and it’s not hard to imagine why Hayes would like to ride that train as far as it’ll take him.
Prepare yourselves for some rampant speculation: we’re into August, the Cruellest Month for Hockey fans (with apologies to TS Eliot) and there is very little happening. However, what we do know for sure is that,somewhere between now and the puck drop in Dallas on the 2nd of October, there is going to have to be a change to the Hawks roster.
As of this writing, Chicago are $2,216,795 over the Salary cap (all figures from Capgeek). This count includes Teuvo Teravainen’s $894,167 but even if he starts in Rockford and someone like MANSHITTER or Nordstrom comes up instead, the Hawks will still be over the cap by nearly $2 million. So, clearly, something is going to have to happen and by far the most likely (but not the only, as we shall see) outcome is that a player gets moved to free up the neccesary cap room.
Which leads us to the question, of course: who is it gonna be?
Let’s have some wild guesses that will doubtless be proved utterly wrong, shall we?
Cheer the Podcast Episode 15 (6.28.14): Jim and Adam get together for draft tonight as their mindsets wildly change over a 24 hour period. Patrick Sharp is the topic du jour, followed by the abundance of right side defencemen which now includes Niklas Hjalmarsson and how the lower than expected cap ceiling may cause the Hawks just to stand pat. The implications of Ryan Kesler’s trade to Anaheim, the low ceiling cap on teams already up against it and the impending free agency period all roll back to that $69M number as the guys fully delve into the first true offseason podcast of the summer.
Audio after the jump.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 14: Part 2(6.16.14): With part 1 having looked back at last season, part 2 focuses on the offseason ahead and the questions that need to be answered. The Brent Seabrook conundrum (the idea that actively shopping him is reactionary nonsense), Patrick Sharp as the lone core piece we’d be OK with seeing moved and Toews/Kane getting extensions are primary discussion topics. We also look at the barren UFA landscape to see if any pieces there would make sense for the Blackhawks. Business opens for buyouts today as well as trades. This should lead you into that whole process.
Audio after the jump.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 14 (6.12.14): Sadly, the guys convene to look back on a season where the Blackhawks failed to win the Stanley Cup. In the first part of a two part episode they focus solely on the 2013-14 season and what went both wrong and right. Topics include players jettisoned like Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen as well as those coming back such as Kris Versteeg, Peter Regin and David Rundblad. The Kings series is dissected with Patrick Sharp’s disppearance and Joel Quenneville’s questionable roster decisions put to the fire. Still, there were a lot of positives like career highs in points for Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa scoring 30 goals and the continued success of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Still, the guys are left disappointed at what could have been.
Audio after the jump.
With our podcast schedule in flux due to life and whatnot, the fellas here at CtA decided to put together a three-part round table that starts with the regular season, taps into the playoffs and looks ahead to the offseason. We did this figuring we’d spare you from one 500,000-word post.
I’d also like to introduce our newest contributor, Tom Pauly, who is extremely knowledgeable about hockey and is just as demented as us. Basically, he fits right in. Give him a follow on Twitter @ThomPauly, and also be sure to check out his hilarious other venture, The Full Amonte.
All right, on we go.
Generally speaking, we here at Cheer The Anthem are of a “Live-and-let-live” mentality when it comes to other blogs. There is little value in calling out other fans of the team we follow. However, sometimes, something is written that is just too monumentally awful and wrong and dumb to avoid commenting on it. One of those things was written today by John Jaeckel over at Hockeybuzz, the place where braincells go to putrefy. Now, JJ is apparently a good guy and I’m happy that that’s the case.. but he doesn’t half talk some complete bollocks on his website. So, in time-honoured fashion, I Fisked his latest pronouncements.
The levels of fandom lead to emotions such as these, especially in this city.
Cubs fans can take losses knowing nothing is expected of them for years to come. White Sox fans know they’re stuck with an average big league club and a depleted farm system, and any signs of positivity they get are just a bonus.
When the Bulls bow out in the first round of the playoffs, their fans can shrug it off in what-could’ve-been fashion knowing their best player was lost to injury – again.
Bears fans? Blame Jay Cutler, root for the backup, watch a promising start “fade to black,” schedule your fantasy draft, rinse, repeat.
Tapping into Blackhawks fandom doesn’t afford you the luxury of burying yourself in any of those aforementioned situations anymore, though. The regular-season losses are analyzed down to the 18th skater more often than accepted as ho-hum. Playoff defeats are heartbreaking to the point of downright tragedy.
All of that comes with expectations, which the Blackhawks meteorically have risen since their surprising run to the Western Conference Final in 2008-09 and subsequent two Stanley Cup titles. There’s no more acceptance of losing a playoff series without a mandatory period of depression – no matter how long or short. Even those singing the praises of an exciting season and thrilling run to a fourth conference final in six years aren’t going to seek out a highlight of Sunday’s final goal. It hurts too much.
It wasn’t meant to be like this. As you may recall, being already hairy of face, I decided to brew a Playoff Beer in lieu of growing a beard. The beer was brewed the day of Game 1 against St Louis and bottled the day before the 2nd Round against Minnesota began. The idea was, of course, to use it to toast another Cup, but of course that isn’t going to happen now. So I poured it all down the drain.
And so it ends, and I’ve had to use the Eleventh Dream Day song title in the headline that I really didn’t want to use. While I’m sure we’re all feeling like we’ve just been punched hard in the stomach by a bastard with fists of lead, there should be no shame tonight. These two excellent Hockey teams have put on an exhibition of a series and in the end it came down to the coinflip that is OT. The Kings won that, and the Hawks title defence is over, desperately short of the Final.
A Cheer The Anthem Public Health Announcement
As my esteemed colleague Bartl pointed out, Of Course It’s A Game 7. Be honest, did you not believe, in the septic recesses of what used to be your heart, that this would be the case from the moment this series was on? It has come to pass, and it’s going to be a tough night. Luckily your frents at Cheer The Anthem have complied this handy 5-step program to ensure that you make it through this experience with at least a shred of sanity, dignity and personal well-being left.
So, here’s our 5 Steps To Surviving Game 7 (because Prime Numbers Rule)
Ok, so, these Hawks have made it back from a 1-3 hole against an amazing Kings team to force a Game 7 in Chicago on Sunday. In other news, it’s 5am here, the rest of the CtA crew are drunk in a bar and I’ve got work in three hours.. so this will be a pretty short recap..
Couldn’t say it any better than Notorious BIG.
Game 5 was, without a doubt, the most nerve-wracking hockey I’ve watched since overtime of Game 7 against Detroit last year. And that’s probably only fitting given that the Blackhawks need to overcome the exact same deficit they faced in that series.
From up two goals (twice), to farting away the lead, to an absolutely intense first OT to the winner by Michal Handzus, it brought out every emotion humans are capable of showing. I can’t imagine that Game 6 will be any different.
Rather than writing about the Blackhawks’ playoff demise, we’re able to get to some analysis ahead of the return to the Staples Center on Friday. Here’s what I’ve got…
So, here we are. For the first time since the 2nd Round against Detroit last year, the Hawks are staring down the barrel of an elimination game on Wednesday. Things are prety grim right now and if folk are feeling les-than-chipper about the Hawks prospects, well, can’t say I blame them.
When the fan base was weighing in on the better matchup for the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, it seemed the majority chose the Kings over the Anaheim Ducks.
The third period of Game 2 showed why a series with the Kings wasn’t something I wanted to go through.
After the ‘Hawks controlled the majority of the first two periods, Los Angeles took advantage of a couple of early power plays in the third on its way to a five-goal period to even the series heading to Hollywood for Game 3 on Saturday.
The Blackhawks capitalized on a pair of timely changes, as Nick Leddy took an outlet pass and put a nifty backhand past Jonathan Quick before Ben Smith scored merely seconds after he got on the ice to give the ‘Hawks a 2-0 lead into the final two minutes of the second. Brent Seabrook had a prime chance to put them up three, but Quick’s sliding save across the crease kept L.A. within a pair.
Justin Williams had a puck go off his sake and trickle past Corey Crawford near the end of the second, and from there it was all Kings.
The Kings’ explosion shouldn’t really surprise anyone. This a team that stormed back from 0-3 down to San Jose to win the series and 2-3 against the Ducks before dominating Game 7 on the road. As much as we commend the Blackhawks for never being out of a game, series, whatever, L.A. has the same pedigree – and maybe even more dangerous when backed into a corner.
OK.. one down.. and a strange one at that. The stats suggest that the Hawks were totally outgunned by the Kings, with the LA team having a 26-20 advantage in shots and a 57.4% Corsi share. Sure didn’t look like that, though. In my opinion, the Hawks played a smart, speedy game, keeping the Kings from their usual “Monstrous Forecheck=Pucks Played Into Space” method. The Kings were scrabbling and attempting long-range and half-chance efforts almost all night. Meanwhile, the Hawks were a continual threat to break at speed and in numbers. making sure that the Kings were defending in their own zone rather than 200 feet away.
Due to their series going to seven games and the short turnaround time between the end of the 2nd Round and the Western Conference Final, it was unclear whether the Hawks would be playing the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks for the privilege of a second successive SCF appearance. Therefore, when coming up with this preview, I decided to play it safe by enlisting the help of a couple of people who have good knowledge of, and a healthy disdain for, both teams. Here are our good buddies (and San Jose Sharks fans) Staci from the Canafornians and Derek from Fear The Fin , answering some questions about the Hawks formidable opponents.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 13 (5.18.14): The Minnesota Wild are now in the rear view and the Kings are the only obstacle between the Blackhawks and a 2nd straight Final appearance. The guys reflect back on the Minnesota series and it taking more than originally thought while looking ahead to those LA Kings. Brandon Bollig’s social media escapades get a brief mention, and the role we hope to not play again in those. We also delve into the unpredictable happenings of the Eastern Conference playoffs, basically going as far to say that the West Finals are for the Cup.
This weeks outro may prevent Jim from ever running for President.
Brandon Bollig is a great hockey man, said no one ever. Some would consider him a real key to a great team. If you do, your strategy may look a bit like this:
I should really be sitting here writing about the Hawks’ prospects in Game 7 against the Wild, trying to cheer you (and myself) up with the record at the United Center and assuring you that the next one will be different. Instead we’re eyeing up the Kings and Ducks and hoping for 5OTs before the Hawks head to California. Funny old game, Hockey, eh?
The last three games of this series have helped produce enough stomach acid to make Tums become a midday snack. The first 10 minutes provided some worry before it was Jonathan Toews to the rescue with a third-period goal that would stand up for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 as the ‘Hawks held serve at the United Center.
The penalty 31 seconds in, combined with the bad bounce that slipped past Corey Crawford and the pair of posts the Wild hit in the first period made for an uncomfortable beginning to a game the Blackhawks needed before heading back to Minnesota. They gradually began dominating the possession into the second period and final got the final nail on a play that Patrick Sharp made the smart move to fire the puck at the net for a waiting Toews.
I’m sure most of us predicted when the series began that we’d be seeing some handshakes tonight, but at least the ‘Hawks were able to rebound from a pair of stinkers up north to apply the right amount of gas to get them through an important game in the latter part of a series. They have a tendency to do such things.
I’ve very tired, so just a couple of things….
* Despite years of wondering what kind of lineup Q will ice from shift to shift, I still was bewildered at what I saw in Game 3 and 4 and the matter of putting Kris Versteeg on the top line to start Game 5. What’s even more mind boggling is that when Q puts together the combinations that seem to be the most logic, the ‘Hawks produce. Yet, Q continues to roll questionable lines when it seems completely unjustified.
For instance, is it any surprise the Blackhawks’ game picked up when he put Toews, Sharp and Marian Hossa together tonight? The Red Wedding line that produced so well during the regular season? Is it any wonder that when you put Bryan Bickell in the right spots with the right people that his game goes up a notch? Or when Peter Regin is dressed like everyone had been clamoring for and he puts in solid work on the bottom six despite not having played since April 12?
These are things I’ll never understand about Q and his propensity to change lineups for the sake of change and nothing else. Instead, we had to suffer through Game 3 and 4 and part of tonight wondering when the hell he’s going to stop trying to out-think himself.
* Crawford didn’t have his best in Game 4, but as has been the case for years, he puts his balls on the ice when the tough really gets going. He had a near-perfect performance in Game 5 and helped the ‘Hawks weather the storm when the Wild were pushing hard for the tie.
* Woof, did Duncan Keith have a couple of bad turnovers or what? At least twice I remember him hitting the meet of a Wild stick on a pass attempt he had no business making.