Disappointing But No Surprise + Conference Call Remarks

As a Blackhawk fan I’m disappointed in the decision to walk away from Antti Niemi and sign Marty Turco. As someone who tries to convey what’s happening while using some judgment and instinct to connect the dots, this comes as no surprise.

The Hawk sign Turco for a speculated $1.75 million and save $1 million in salary cap space as Niemi becomes a UFA. The exact amount of Turco’s contract is not known but it could have been as low as in the $1.0-$1.5 million range. Chris Kuc from the Tribune reported that was the case.

Readers were prepared for this outcome.

From my blog on July 23…

I don’t believe Niemi’s contract negotiation will be settled by an arbitrator unless the Hawks have already decided to go in a different direction. There are risks for both sides in going that route, but Niemi has the most to lose.

If for some reason Hawk management is not as high on Niemi as most believe there will be an arbitration hearing involving both parties next Thursday. If that is the case Bowman has options and Turco waiting in the wings.

From my blog on August 1…

My objective opinion is Niemi will continue to improve and the Hawks should try to keep him. That said, my gut feeling is the team may still go in a different direction. Niemi was popular among his teammates and that might be the best thing going for him.

If the Hawks deal Niemi the front runner to replace him is most likely Turco. At this point if Niemi isn’t re-signed nothing should come as a shock.

Turco will probably play for the Hawks at a deep discount. Possibly he could sign here for at least one million dollars less than Niemi’s $2.75 million award.

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I do believe the players will be very disappointed by this decision. They are professionals and personnel decisions are not up to them. But it would be best for all concerned for the Hawks to have a good start to next season. That could be a lot to ask considering all of the roster changes.

Al’s Shots

Comments from Monday morning’s conference call.

Stan Bowman remarked the Hawks made a couple of offers to Niemi. He said they couldn’t work anything out and they decided to do what was best for the team. Bowman maintained there was a multi-year offer made although Niemi’s agent Bill Zito contradicts that claim.

Bowman commented Turco is hungry to win a Cup and will be a good mentor for Corey Crawford. Turco mentioned he is excited and looking forward to working toward winning the Stanley Cup.

The former Star remarked the last few seasons have been very difficult because of not making the playoffs. Turco said his health is very good and he did turn down other offers to become a Blackhawk.

Turco wouldn’t comment specifically if one of the teams bidding for his services was the Flyers. Bowman did mention that they have been interested in Turco for awhile and he appreciated his patience throughout the process.

The Hawks GM remarked the Cristobal Huet situation will now be a priority.

Bowman mentioned he spoke to Niemi at the arbitration hearing but has not spoken to him since.

Bowman concluded by commenting the team is almost set, but they still need to add a defenseman.

blackhawkswin@comcast.net

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  1. steve from chicago says:

    Boynton signing will be huge as the three year no injury miracle run will likely come to an end.

    This franchise is very thin right now Al.

    Remember when Toews broke his finger early in his career and missed about 12 games? Can you imagine what a crisis a similar injury would be early in 2010-11?

    It looks to me that legit veteran guys comparable to Brendan Morrison, Willie Mitchell and even Niemi are going to sign low money two way contracts if they want to continue in the NHL at this point.

  2. shruew says:

    There are a few good vets still out there. The whole Kovy ruling certainly isn’t helping matters. We might see a record for camp invites / signings this year.

  3. Al Cimaglia says:

    Hawks re-sign Boynton to a 1 year deal.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Al, now that the dust seems to have settled, and the Blackhawks appear to have their personnel in place prior to training camp, I wonder if their chances this year aren’t just as good as last year.

    Assuming Huet’s salary is off the books, CapGeek figures the Hawks have about $2mil in cap room.

    Room enough to bring up Beach (or another prospect) occasionally and/or sign a budget priced forward (or d-man).

    So looking at an overview:

    Top 6 Toews/Kane/Hossa/Sharp/Bolland/Brouwer or Kopecky; bottom 6 Bickell/Dowell/Stalberg (who might crack Top 6), Skille/whoever.

    Not too shabby.

    Top 4 on D intact. Bottom pairing Hendry/Boynton/Scott combos, with either Hendry or Scott being able to move up front.

    Pretty good.

    Turco/Crawford in net. Seems solid enough to me.

    And no other team in the West has made significant improvements. So CHI looks to be in good posture IMO.

    What do you think?

    • shruew says:

      ‘Hawks look solid.

      What remains to be seen is what injuries occur and when and how the depth holds up. Who can step up from the bottom two lines to contribute on a somewhat frequent basis.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      I echo Shruew’s thoughts…

      Plus…Youth is great but there was a lot of NHL game experience lost because of the cap dumps.

      Beach would probably be fun to watch…but maybe someone like Billy Guerin could be more useful.

      • Dave Morris says:

        Al, what do you think of Owen Nolan as a potential addition? One tough hombre who’s been around and gives no quarter. He scores some clutch goals too.

  5. Al Cimaglia says:

    I like him…

    But I do remember him putting a big, questionable hit on Sharp last season???

  6. Al Cimaglia says:

    Also Nolan has been injury prone.

  7. Al Cimaglia says:

    Pisani has skill but his colitis problem has hurt his career..only played in half of the games last season…

    But that is why Bowman got him for $500k.

    • Dave Morris says:

      AL> so if CapGeek’s numbers are accurate, Hawks will have a 21-man roster, and Bowman will have about $1.5 in cap space once Huet is off the books.

      CG’s figures here:
      http://www.capgeek.com/charts.php?Team=11

      PS Pisani is a very good PK man, so even if he only plays 4th line minutes and special teams, sounds like a bargain at 500K.