Fleury Speaks, The Future In Net, More Deals To Be Done, And Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Fleury Speaks, The Future In Net, More Deals To Be Done, And Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Hope you are all having an enjoyable week. If the Chicago Blackhawks could have a headline-less day today, I would appreciate it since I am playing in a golf outing and will be away from my computer all day. Yesterday provided us with some content regarding the Blackhawks at opposite ends of the fandom spectrum.

We heard from newest Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury in his first media availability since joining Chicago, and we also heard from TSN’s Rick Westhead, who broke down the sexual assault and abuse lawsuits against the Blackhawks on the “Steve Dangle Podcast.”

•   We will start there today. If you haven’t had a chance to listen or watch the podcast yet, you can find it here… (Content warning: Sexual Assault)

•   The latest episode of the podcast was released late last night, but I highly recommend taking the 78 minutes to go through the full thing. Westhead takes the time to give his full perspective on the situation, where it has gone so far and where it could go from here. I took the time to listen last night and wrote about my biggest takeaways from his appearance on the podcast, which you can find here…

•   I wanted to shout-out the guys on the podcast (Steve “Dangle” Glynn, Adam Wylde, and Jesse Blake) for having Westhead on the podcast and continuing to shine light on the situation.

•   I said it in my wrap-up of the podcast episode but I am not a news-breaker. Whatever is coming out on the Blackhawks lawsuits and allegations, I react to and try to dissect and decipher my thoughts and feelings on it. The work that is being done by journalists like Westhead, the crew at The Athletic, WBEZ, and others is so very important, challenging, and not the work that makes you popular. But it is necessary.

•   Also yesterday, Marc-André Fleury had his first media availability since being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and committing to play in Chicago for the 2021-22 season.

•   Fleury was able to talk about his decision to commit to playing with the Blackhawks, the process of learning about the trade, who and what sold him on playing in Chicago, and what makes him optimistic about the 2021-22 season with the Blackhawks…

•   Fleury is playing on the final year of what was a three-year contract extension with the Vegas Golden Knights back in the summer of 2018, carrying a $7M AAV cap hit. The addition of Fleury to the Blackhawks is a one-year, “going for it” move by the organization to give the team a shot at Stanley Cup Playoff contention as the number of years left with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane start to dwindle down in Chicago. Along with Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, and Jake McCabe, the addition of Fleury helps put the Blackhawks in the mix in the Central Division next season. It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a soon to be 37-year-old goaltender, but Fleury seems up to the challenge.

•   One thing is for sure with Fleury, he is happy to not have to go against Patrick Kane in games any longer, just in practice.

•   The future beyond Fleury in net is going to be interesting as Chicago has only one goaltender under contract beyond the 2021-22 season at the NHL level, Arvid Söderblom, who has never played in the NHL and will likely play the entire season in the minor league system. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one of Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia moved prior to the beginning of training camp after the addition of Fleury, leaving one behind in the minor league system as well. Kevin Lankinen will play backup to Fleury, but he would need a new contract next summer if he is going to be in the plans in net for the Blackhawks beyond this year.

•   Speaking of the minor league system, the Rockford IceHogs brought back a familiar face yesterday, signing former defenseman Ryan Stanton to a one-year AHL deal.

•   Stanton is a veteran of 120 NHL games and 514 AHL games and played with the IceHogs from 2010-13. He has played the fourth-most games in IceHogs history as a defenseman and will be leaned upon as a veteran leader for a young IceHogs squad.

•   This year in Rockford is going to look a lot different from last season with the elimination of the NHL Taxi Squad. Last year we saw a lot of talented players who were NHL/AHL tweeners that sat on the Taxi Squad, rather than play in the AHL and it hurt the IceHogs from a competitiveness standpoint. But from a development standpoint, the IceHogs saw a lot of young players and rookie take big steps forward in their development including players like Isaak Phillips, Evan Barratt, and Andrei Altybarmakyan. Stanton will be a veteran leader on a team that already has some solid leadership personnel with Captain Garrett Mitchell retuning this season, as well as Dmitry Osipov, Dylan McLaughlin, and MacKenzie Entwistle all returning and likely going to play significant minutes.

•   The Blackhawks have had a busy summer on and off the ice. There are still a few tasks to get taken care of, like signing Brandon Hagel and Alexander Nylander, but getting those deals done is not expected to be difficult, according to Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic…

•   Hagel and Nylander will join a crowded forwards group in Chicago that is full of middle and bottom-six options, but the two are likely to have the first shots at sticking in the new-look Blackhawks lineup, especially Hagel after the rookie season he had in 2020-21. Something to keep an eye on as we progress through the summer.

•   ‘Tis the season of new players getting new numbers with new teams. We know Marc-André Fleury will be getting his No. 29 with the Blackhawk, but we are still waiting to hear what numbers Tyler Johnson, Jake McCabe, and Jujhar Khaira will wear in Chicago, along with any other number changes for the Blackhawks. The Winnipeg Jets announced new numbers for their new players yesterday and part of them was a new number for Pierre-Luc Dubois, who the Jets got in return for Patrik Laine last season. DuBois, a former Columbus Blue Jacket changed from No. 13 to No. 80 for the upcoming season. He made the change for a very good reason…

•   That’s awesome. Good on DuBois to honor his friend and former teammate.

•   That will do it for today. I hope you all enjoy your Thursdays!

•   Now, off to the range to get the bad swings out first…hopefully.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.