Petty Canes Go Full Troll Mode, USA Cruises To Semifinals, Reichel Takes A Boxing Lesson, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Petty Canes Go Full Troll Mode, USA Cruises To Semifinals, Reichel Takes A Boxing Lesson, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Hello again from vacation, hope you are all doing well this weekend. I did, in fact, get better sleep last night. So thank you to the, well no one, who reached out about my well being. Anyways, back this morning and full of energy.

•   Missed this just after bullets were published yesterday, but congratulations to the newest married Blackhawks player as Dominik Kubalík and his wife Klára got married in the Czech Republic this weekend!

•   Of course they walked through a hockey stick tunnel, why wouldn’t they?

•   Kubalík has an interesting year ahead of him with Chicago. He’s on an expiring contract with a $3.7M cap hit this season. He’ll be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent next summer and is coming off two shortened seasons in which he was one of the top goal scorers and point producers for the team behind Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Jonathan Toews (2019-20). He is clearly a legitimate top-six forward in the NHL, but the Blackhawks shuffled him around the lineup at times last season and his powerplay usage was not what you would have expected, though his effectiveness was exactly what you would have expected. He just turned 26-years-old this month. It would be very odd if the Blackhawks didn’t try to sign him to a longer-term extension at some point this season rather than letting it linger until the summer next year and hit the arbitration table. We shall see.

•   Speaking of recent birthdays, today is former Blackhawks goaltender and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Antti Niemi’s 38th birthday!

•   Without Niemi’s emergence in the 2009-10 season and postseason, the Blackhawk may have never started their dynasty run in the “One Goal” era. But Niemi’s run with the Blackhawks was short-lived. Some forget this, but the summer after the 2010 Stanley Cup, both Niemi and Niklas Hjalmarsson were restricted free agents and the Blackhawks (as you more Riley remember) had many tough decisions and break-ups after the 2010 Stanley Cup title. One of Niemi or Hjalmarsson wouldn’t be coming back, but that decision was nudged forward when the San Jose Sharks signed Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14M offer sheet that summer. The Blackhawks matched it, Hjalmarsson stayed in Chicago and helped them win two more Stanley Cups in his time. Niemi went to free agency and had a few more decent seasons in the NHL, but was never able to capture the same level of play he had in 2010.

•   Offer Sheets.

•   Speaking of, what in the hell what THIS yesterday…

•   You’ll remember just two years ago, the Montreal Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet, forcing the Hurricanes to match it. Well surprise surprise, the Hurricanes don’t mess around. In their absolute pettiest of revenge plots, the Hurricanes signed Canadiens restricted free agent and former third-overall pick in 2018 Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1M offer sheet. But the trolling didn’t stop there, no no no, these are the Carolina Hurricanes we are talking about. They have to lean into every detail of this revenge plot, and they did…

•   Every detail…

•   Even going so far as to, in an actual NHL contract offer, giving Kotkaniemi a $20 signing bonus on the deal to signify Aho’s No. 20 that he wears with the Hurricanes…

•   My jaw dropped yesterday when all of this was coming out. It was incredible content and an incredible “F**k you” from Carolina. Even in the public statement released by the team, Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell just hit CRTL+C, CTRL+V and changed the names…

•   Not to be forgotten in the LOLs, is the fact that this could end up backfiring on Hurricanes if the Canadiens decide to not match the offer sheet. Montreal has a week to decide what to do, but Kotkaniemi is not Sebastian Aho. He’s young, and still has a decent amount of potential to reach in his game, but he is nowhere near worth the $6.1M tag that he is currently signed to with Carolina. That first and third-round pick in compensation for the Canadiens might actually be a route they consider.

•   Although, losing Philipp Danault and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the same offseason would not be wonderful for the Canadiens. We shall see how this continues to play out. I have may popcorn ready.

•   Flipping back to the Blackhawks, yesterday we talked a little bit about the “One West Side” program that the Blackhawks and community partners established last year. Yesterday outside of the United Center, the Blackhawks and A Better Chicago held a back-to-school block party in celebration of the one-year anniversary.

•   Representing the Blackhawks at the block party was Tommy Hawk, naturally, and 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel. This is the first public appearance that Reichel has made as part of the Blackhawks since being drafted and signing his entry-level contract. As part of his appearance, he took part in a boxing demonstration that I can assume was part of encouraging kids to be active.

•   Yeah, someone is going to have to show him some pointers for altercations on the ice. Get Sheldon Brookbank over there.

•   What we also saw with Reichel’s appearance was a new Blackhawks sweater for him with a new number…a familiar number, actually.

•   Adam Boqvist’s body isn’t even cold yet and the Blackhawks have tossed his No. 27 sweater over to the new rookie on the block and said, “have at it!” Reichel joins a list of former Blackhawks to wear No. 27 that includes Boqvist, Johnny Oduya, Jeremy Morin, Jeremy Roenick, and Darryl Sutter. So there’s something to live up to. Also, you don’t always see rookies get the “good” numbers in their first years with the organization unless they are in the conversation for being part of the NHL roster. So that’s something to keep an eye out for, too.

•   Yesterday, the IIHF Women’s World Championship quarterfinals got underway with four contests to determine the semifinalists that will be competing in the medal rounds. The U.S., after finishing second in Group A, took on Japan and it was less of a game and more of a route for Team USA.

•   10-2 was the final as Team USA took care of business and moved onto the Semifinals with ease.

•   In the process of reaching the semifinals, Hilary Knight, who already surpassed former USA Women’s player Cammi Granato for the all-time goals record in IIHF World Championship competition, broke another Team USA record held by Granato.

•   With an assist on the 6-2 goal in the game, Knight became the all-time points leader by an American player in Women’s World Championships competition.

•   Following the record being broken, Knight was congratulated by Granato herself…

•   And following the 10-2 drubbing, two U.S. Women’s hockey legends celebrated moving onto the Semifinals…

•   The medal-round competitors are set as the U.S. will take on Finland in their semifinal matchup, while Team Canada will take on a plucky Switzerland squad in their semifinal matchup. Both Canada and the U.S. previously defeated their semifinal opponents earlier in the tournament in the preliminary round.

•   The semifinals take place on Monday, and Team USA’s 2:00 p.m. CT puck drop against Finland can be found on the NHL Network.

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

•   Don’t forget, send your Blackhawks questions to me on Twitter for our Monday Mailbag post to begin the week off right! Use the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag or email them to me using Mario.tirabassi at bleachernation dot com and I will get them answered.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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