After a couple of days on pins and needles trying to figure out which direction the Chicago Blackhawks may need to go with the roster construction this offseason, we got a little bit of clarity and a little bit of hope yesterday afternoon regarding goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
• In a report from Scott Powers of The Athletic, it appears that Fleury has been in contact with Chicago and has been researching the team internally to help figure out his next move.
Report: Marc-Andre Fleury “Doing Homework” On Blackhawkshttps://t.co/GDE5j4TkkZ
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) July 31, 2021
• I learned of this news yesterday on the golf course. Shot 104, but I had a better back nine than I did the front nine, so that was good. Was it a coincidence that I learned of the Fleury report on the 11th hole? Who knows?
• For the Blackhawks, a lot of the persevered on-ice success that the team is going to have next season hinges on what happens with Fleury. A number of analytical models, with Fleury on the roster for Chicago, have the Blackhawks flirting with playoff contention next season. If he does decide to not come to Chicago and chooses to retire instead, that will dramatically change the way the team looks on paper, and will change how they will have to navigate the salary cap without Fleury’s $7M AAV cap hit on their books for the 2021-22 season.
• UPDATE: I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but this seems like a pretty good sign.
• Speaking of cap hits, we found out yesterday how Seth Jones’ contract extension will look once it kicks-in for the 2022-23 season.
Breakdown of Seth Jones' extension:
22-23: $10m total salary ($750k base, $9.25m signing bonus)
23-24: $12.5m ($7.5m, $5m)
24-25: $12.5m ($7.5m, $5m)
25-26: $10.5m ($5.5m, $5m)
26-27: $8m ($3m, $5m)
27-28: $7.5m ($2.5m, $5m)
28-29: $7.5m ($2.5m, $5m)
29-30: $7.5 m ($2.5m, $5m)
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 31, 2021
• Most of the money is handed out through the signing bonus, it is front-loaded, and it carries a full no-movement clause. Again, as I’ve described it before, it is a hefty deal.
• I’m on board with the moves the Blackhawks have made this offseason from a roster construction standpoint. If Fleury plays, it will make me even more excited to see this team on the ice. Off it is another story and we’ll get to that in a minute. But after moving beyond the “rebuilding” process for one year, the Blackhawks, on paper, look to be back to a team that can be in the Stanley Cup playoff mix.
• Bit of a shifty situation unfolded yesterday via social media. Evander Kane’s wife/ex-wife, Anna, who is also pregnant, unloaded on her Instagram account against the San Jose Sharks winger for his gambling and family issues, while also saying that Kane would bet on his teams to lose and would tank those games.
— SJ Sharks Coverage (@SJSharksNewsIG) July 31, 2021
• Needless to say, because it involved money and “the integrity of the game,” the NHL moved quickly to investigate the accusations against Evander.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) July 31, 2021
• This morning, Kane released two statements, denying what was said about his gambling habits.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 1, 2021
• The NHL moved so quickly, within a few hours, to open their investigation into Kane. Yet, just a few weeks ago, the league essentially shrugged its shoulders when the alleged sexual abuse and harassment incidents became public surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s a double-standard and a bad look for the league, in my opinion. Gary Bettman has a law degree and a background in handling legal matters. I’m not saying I know more than him, but wouldn’t it make sense to open your own investigation into a matter a serious as the one the Blackhawks are currently under? Rather than to trust the findings, which may or may not be made public, of an “independent review” that is being funded by the team itself?
• That’s all I’ll say on it now. On to better news.
• It’s wedding season for the Blackhawks! Yesterday was a busy day for Josiah Slavin and Alex DeBrincat, both getting married in what looked like beautiful and entertaining ceremonies.
Speaking of #Blackhawks weddings, here is a glimpse of #IceHogs prospect Josiah Slavin’s wedding today from Instagram user cambriaelizabethphotography!
Congratulations to Josiah and Cali! #WeddingSZN pic.twitter.com/P2NVoSW2eV
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) August 1, 2021
• IceHogs prospect Josiah Slavin, who is 22-year-old(!), tied the knot with his wife Cali.
• DeBrincat and his wife Lyndsey had a bit of a more Blackhawks star-studded event that, by the looks of it on Instagram, was a hell of a party.
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) August 1, 2021
• Great to see Jonathan Toews having a good time with his teammates. Also, someone should check on former Blackhawk Drake Caggiula this morning…
• Finally, some amazing news involving hockey and the government (not two things that always go together) as Willie O’Ree, the first-ever Black NHL player, will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Senate passes bill to award Congress' highest honor to first Black NHL player https://t.co/RgbGncXy9k
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 31, 2021
• The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor of U.S. Congress and it’s amazing to see a trailblazer like O’Ree being properly honored.
• That’s where we will end today. Enjoy your Sunday!