Toronto's Packed Press Box, Blue Line Trade Buzz, Guttman's Debut, RSN Concerns, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Toronto’s Packed Press Box, Blue Line Trade Buzz, Guttman’s Debut, RSN Concerns, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night, the Maple Leafs were the heaviest moneyline favorite in recorded NHL history (however long they track such things) and they held up their end of the bargain. The Leafs won, they covered the 2.5-goal spread and the teams combined to hit the over on 6.5 goals. So kudos to anyone who rolled the parlay across the board because Toronto did their thing.

  • The Blackhawks lost by three last night, but their effort appeared to be much better than the prior evening in Montreal. Toronto is just so much better than the Blackhawks at this point there needed to be either an act of God or a natural disaster to make that game closer than it was. Luke Richardson almost always paints a positive picture after his overwhelmed, out-manned team tries their best but gets their tails beat (again). Last night was no different.
  • I know I keep saying this, but it’s worth repeating after the last disaster of a head coach (not Derek King, the other guy). Richardson’s approach to this team, his understanding of the cards he’s been dealt and willingness to continue helping individuals improve and grow as the team stacks Ls has been so impressive. For a rookie head coach, who paid his dues, to accept this assignment and then stay on course as well as he has reaffirms to me that he can not only take this team through these dark seasons but is also the right guy to take the younger, talented, competitive version into the future where Ws will be more frequent.
  • So who showed up to watch the Blackhawks and Leafs last night? A number of teams that have been prominently tied to a few of the skaters in white. Interesting that Tampa is once again sending multiple scouts to watch a Chicago game. Dallas being well represented shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point.
  • Relevant to some of those scouts is Max Domi, who is in Chicago on a one-year deal and performing fairly well at a $3 million price. He picked up an assist — his 22nd of the season — and won seven of 13 faceoffs in 17:38. He served four penalty minutes and was credited with two shots on goal.
  • Domi was asked about how he sees the trade pressure weighing on Patrick Kane. It’s impossible to not see him during down times on the ice and during the anthem(s) — especially at the United Center — thinking a lot. And Domi acknowledged how tough Kane’s teammates see it being for him as the decision deadline draws closer.
  • In his full “32 Thoughts” column on Thursday morning, Elliotte Friedman shared a number of nuggets related to the Blackhawks and the pending trade deadline. Friedman said there’s a sense around the league that Domi wants to stay in Chicago, which isn’t a surprise when you remember one of the reasons he specifically reached out to the Blackhawks as a free agent was his desire to play for Richardson. He’s been great in the room so I’m all for him being here next year. But if the Hawks can move him for assets and then sign him as a UFA? Even better.
  • Also from Friedman: “One team indicated the Blackhawks “swung for the fences” with their ask for Sam Lafferty, which is the right thing to do, although it didn’t go anywhere for now.” Note to self… always ask for way too much or you’ll never get someone to overpay. Hell, Davidson got two 1s and two roster players for Brandon Hagel last year and he had barely taken the permanent job over.
  • According to Friedman, “There continues to be a lot of discussion around Chicago’s defencemen (aside from Seth Jones).” With Jake McCabe being rumored to be an interesting piece for the Leafs to consider, that makes sense. I do wonder if there will be any interest in Jack Johnson or Caleb Jones, both of whom are free agents after the season; Caleb is a RFA so there is some club control.
  • Cole Guttman finally made his NHL debut last night. His first hit was a good one — on Auston Matthews. He won five of 13 faceoffs and was credited with one shot on net in 12:09 on the ice. Friedman shared this background info on Guttman that I enjoyed:

But it was fitting [Guttman] made his debut in Toronto. The Guttman family came to Canada from a German Displaced Persons Camp in 1951. Cole’s paternal grandfather, Joe, was one of nine brothers and sisters who survived the Second World War, along with their parents. Joe married Cole’s grandmother, Fran, and moved west. Cole’s parents took a red-eye to see his debut. The Guttmans ran a golf tournament — Links for Learning — that raised more than $4 million for special-needs children. Great moment for all of them.

  • The Blackhawks won’t practice on Thursday as they make the trip from Toronto to Ottawa before Friday night’s game against the Senators. With as many banged-up bodies as they have that makes sense.
  • How does last night’s loss impact the Blackhawks’ race to the bottom? One of the teams with a sub-.500 point percentage picked up a win last night; of course Arizona is going to beat Tampa 1-0 in a shootout… right?
  • In fairly significant news that will impact the NHL’s salary cap for next season, there are growing issues with the Diamond Sports Group that have some leagues considering their options regarding local broadcasts. Diamond Sports owns a range of RSNs, most significantly those branded Bally’s. Major League Baseball is looking into helping teams that need assistance with local broadcasts. I haven’t seen an update on this Board of Governors call anywhere yet but this is significant for a number of teams around the league and, again, impacts the cap for next year (lost revenues).
  • Here’s what Friedman wrote this morning about the RSN problem:

Many of our great U.S.-based fans watch regional NHL games on Bally’s, which is owned by Diamond. This collapse is being felt across hockey, MLB and the NBA with more than 40 teams and almost $1.8 billion in rights fees at risk. The NHL had a Board of Governors meeting hours after the announcement. Best I can gather, there is still no absolute clarity where this is going. The good news is teams are expecting to be paid for the time being, the bad news is, apparently, some teams have been warned it will not be the full amount.

The worst-case scenario is that a bankruptcy allows Bally’s (or whoever ends up controlling it) to walk away from everything, but the more likely outcome seems to be that it will pick and choose what it wants to keep and what it may drop or try to restructure. So, if you’re a valuable regional property, you feel as good as you can. If not, you’re sweating unless these leagues come up with a good backup plan.

  • I’m a mock draft NERD — yes, all caps — especially for the NFL. So every time I see someone throwing around a big time mock I’m all-in. One of ESPN’s top guys dropped some intel on what the Bears could get for the No. 1 overall pick and how that could influence the top of the draft. Love it.
  • Finally, while I won’t get into the politics of this decision I’ll just say anyone in office in Chicago that thinks they can “win the Bears over” with some kind of massive offer to “fix” Soldier Field is naive. They gone!

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab