Champion Blackhawks know changes are ahead
A day after they celebrated their Stanley Cup victory with a
massive parade, the Chicago Blackhawks were still giddy from the
experience Saturday. But they also know that changes are ahead this
General manager Stan Bowman said the team’s core will remain
intact, but that the roster will be altered because of salary cap
“We’ve got a good group here. We’re going to do our best to
make sure that we have the right mix for next season,” Bowman said
“We’ll do that. We’ll get it done. We’d love to have everybody
back, and that’s just not a possibility, so we’ve got to move
One position that will be addressed is goaltender. Starter Antti
Niemi, who went 16-6 in the playoffs, made just under $827,000 this
year and is a restricted free agent.
“Yes, he’s certainly going to get a raise from where he was at
last year. But that happens to everybody when you have a good team
and you have a good season. That’s not the focus so much. I’m just
happy that he performed the way he did,” Bowman said.
Chicago’s backup is Cristobal Huet, who just completed the
second year of a four-year, $22.45 million contract.
“We’re going to have to straighten that out. Obviously, the
goaltending is a situation we’re going to have to look at and
figure something out,” Bowman said. “But we’re going to work on
that. We’ll get it straightened out by October.”
The team’s core includes young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick
Kane, who signed five-year $31.5 million contract extensions in
December on the same day star defenseman Duncan Keith got a
13-year, $72 million deal.
Marian Hossa, who finally became a Stanley Cup winner on his
third straight trip to the finals with a different team, signed a
12-year, $62.8 million deal last season.
In addition to Niemi, Niklas Hjalmarrson, Andrew Ladd and Ben
Eager are among the key restricted free agents.
Ladd missed the first three games of the finals and then
returned for the final three while playing with a fractured
shoulder and torn ligaments. He earned his second Stanley Cup,
having also won one with Carolina in 2006.
“I’m sure everybody wants to stay here,” Ladd said Saturday,
adding he certainly did but realized that the game is also a
The unrestricted free agent list includes veteran John Madden, a
key penalty killer who has now been on three Stanley Cup winners,
and Adam Burish.
Madden also acknowledged that his first season with the
Blackhawks might be his only one, but at age 37 said he plans to be
playing somewhere next season.
“I’d love to come back but who knows what will happen?” he
said. “There are going to be a lot of changes because of cap
Bowman also confirmed Toews will receive a $1.3 million bonus
for winning the Conn Smith Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.
Bowman said he wasn’t sure if former general manager Dale
Tallon, who shaped the team with his trades, draft picks and free
agent signings, would get his name on the Stanley Cup or receive a
ring from the team. Tallon, demoted last summer, is now the GM of
the Florida Panthers after nearly four decades with the Blackhawks
in a variety of roles.
“I’m not sure how that’s going to work out,” Bowman said.
“But I’m certainly open to any of that stuff. He’s been a big part
The Blackhawks were signing souvenirs in the hallway near their
locker room Saturday and they’re recovering from their nonstop
party that began Wednesday night when Kane scored the game-winning
goal in overtime against the Flyers to win the franchise’s first
Stanley Cup since 1961.
Center Patrick Sharp estimated he’d had more sleep than most of
his teammates over the past three days – about six hours.
Keith, who lost seven teeth in the clincher of the Western
Conference finals against San Jose, had jokingly made a plea for a
dentist when he addressed the crowd Friday. He said he’s slated to
get some new teeth next week.
And it goes on. The Blackhawks will haul the Stanley Cup to
Wrigley Field for Sunday night’s White Sox-Cubs game and then Kane,
Toews, Keith and Brent Seabrook will take it to California where it
will appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Monday.
The Blackhawks are enjoying every minute, knowing that the team
will have a bit of a different look when it heads to training camp
“We try not to think about it, but obviously it’s in the back
of your mind,” Seabrook said.