And now it’s quiet.
After a frenzy of free agent signings on Day One of NHL Free Agency, the league has started to slow down and the new signings and moves have dripped down to a trickle. For the Chicago Blackhawks, there is still work to be done this offseason. Restricted free agents Alexander Nylander and Brandon Hagel still need new contracts, for example, and there’s still questions regarding Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the club. That decision holds the key to the rest of the offseason for Chicago.
• From Josh Yohe of The Athletic, we learn a little bit of where Fleury is at since the news of his trade to Chicago became public to him through social media.
On Ron Hextall’s first day of free agency, Marc-Andre Fleury, the newest member of the Penguins and much more. Click here to read it and to take advantage of our 50 percent off promo for an annual account: https://t.co/6EsAGwv0jB
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) July 28, 2021
• We still do not know exactly what will happen with Fleury. Yohe explains that a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins could happen, but is not entirely on the table at the moment. Fleury, for all intents and purposes, is Stan Bowman’s plan for the Blackhawks in net next season. If he decides to play the final year of his current deal with Chicago, the Blackhawks will have some more movements to make this offseason, since his $7M cap hit will make things difficult for the Blackhawks money-wise. If he opts to retire, or demands a trade elsewhere, the Blackhawks will have to figure out what they want to do in net with Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Collin Delia all on expiring deals and none of them feeling truly like the goaltender of the future in Chicago.
• Outside of the looming news of Fleury playing or not playing, I’m on board with the Blackhawks’ moves this offseason so far. Like I said on Twitter and in yesterday’s bullets, I feel like the team will be very watchable next season, currently built as is. Are they back to being Stanley Cup contenders? No. But are they better off today than they were a few months ago? I say that’s a resounding yes.
• That is to say, they are better off strictly as a product on the ice. Off the ice, the organization continues to go deeper and deeper into the hole they have created for themselves regarding the allegations and lawsuits against the team following alleged incidents involving former players and former vide coach Brad Aldrich.
• In his latest post on the subject, TSN’s Rick Westhead reports that former Blackhawk Nick Boynton told investigators that “everybody” knew about the allegations and incidents from 2010, and named prominent current and Former Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Brian Campbell in the process as examples of who had knowledge.
Nick Boynton Says Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell, and “Everybody” Else Knew About the Abusehttps://t.co/sEYBDvbvAQ
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) July 29, 2021
• This story is not going to go away. We are well beyond the point of this story trying to be swept under the rug. It shouldn’t go away. During the busiest news cycle of the NHL summer, the first days of free agency, this story should still be at the forefront of the NHL. But it’s having a hard time staying there, because we as NHL fans are starting to get overloaded with stories involving sex crimes and harassment in the hockey world. Westhead, along with a slew of other journalists, have been keen on keeping this story involving the Blackhawks at the front of mind.
• Everything that Chicago has done this offseason continues to circle back to this story, these lawsuits, these allegations. Every post I’ve seen about what the Blackhawks are doing and where they are going for next season, has some sort of reference to the lawsuits. That’s the way it is and the way it should be until there is a final conclusion to this saga. If you don’t like hearing about it, tough. We are going to continue to cover this story to the end.
• For now, we move on to other news around the league.
• Former Seth Jones teammates and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski got PAID yesterday.
Big deal for Zach Werenski: He signs a six-year extension with #CBJ carrying a $9.583M AAV.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 30, 2021
• Add his name to the growing list of defensemen with $9M+ cap hits in the NHL…
Top AAV for NHL 'D' in 2022-23
$11.5M — Erik Karlsson
$11M — Drew Doughty
*$9.583M — Zach Werenski
*$9.5M — Seth Jones
$9.059 — Roman Josi
*$9M — Dougie Hamilton
*$9M — Cale Makar
$8.8M — Alex Pietrangelo
*$8.45M — Miro Heiskanen
*-contract signed in July 2021
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 30, 2021
• Werenski is a top-tier defenseman in the NHL and a young one at 24-years-old. After seeing what players like Charlie McAvoy, Cale Makar, and Quinn Hughes mean to their teams as young defenders, NHL teams are not messing around trying to lock-up their best young defenders for the long-haul. Oh and by the way, McAvoy needs a new deal next season. That’s going to be a big one too.
• Fun note from last night’s NBA Draft as Quentin Grimes and Tyler Myers, who are half-siblings, will become the first sibling duo to play in the NBA and NHL at the same time.
• Speaking of notes from drafts, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was on NHL Network Radio yesterday, talking about the offseason and the question of the Montreal Canadiens drafting Logan Mailloux came up. If you remember, Mailloux renounced himself from the Draft after reports of him circulating a graphic picture of him and another women, without her consent, became public. Mailloux was a top-prospect in the draft, and since there is no actual way for a player to be taken out of the NHL Draft pool, the Canadiens selected him at the end of the first round. The scenes of the Canadiens drafting Mailloux, and then the Blackhawks coming up next with their first-round pick provided some of the most cringe-worthy NHL Draft coverage I can ever remember.
Wow, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on with @stevekouleas @ShaneOBrien55 on @SiriusXMNHL said he was stunned the Canadiens drafted Logan Mailloux, as the father of two daughters he said surprised didn't begin to describe it
— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) July 29, 2021
• Bettman expressed his surprise and disappointment in the Canadiens for making the selection. You can hear his full answer below…
Here’s the clip of it: pic.twitter.com/0nej5sK345
— nmbaseball (@nmbaseball) July 30, 2021
• First off, where is this kind of statement from Bettman when it comes to the Blackhawks? And also, what does having daughters and granddaughters have to do with it? Can one not feel empathy for someone they don’t know without having to have some sort of personal connections to the situation? I’m glad to hear Bettman actually have something of substance to say on the matter, but it always seems to be just outside of the realm of the right thing to say when it comes to these kinds of matters with the NHL and hockey culture as a whole.
• I’ll finish with this piece from Rachel Doerrie on what the recent news cycle in the NHL and the hockey world has meant to the marginalized fan community of the sport, which is basically any non-white, straight men.
• I want to love the Blackhawks. I want to love hockey. I want hockey to be for everyone. It is clearly not, at this moment in time, and it makes it difficult to continue to have that passion for the sport. We need to continue to point out the problems in the league, sport, and culture, and continue to offer solutions to those problems. We need to continue to hold those who are in positions of power and responsible for making changes to actually act on their words and statements.
• That will do it for today. Have yourselves a good Friday.