Chicago Blackhawks

In the end, Fehr 'a great leader' for NHLPA

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In the end, Fehr 'a great leader' for NHLPA

The players were as restless as anyone during the NHL lockout. Obviously they wanted to play, not spend nearly four months just skating around in circles. But when the NHLPA hired Donald Fehr as their executive director, it was because they wanted to become a stronger union and get a fair deal.
And players say he did that.
It took a while, longer than anyone would have liked, but when the NHL and NHLPA agreed on a framework for their new collective bargaining agreement early Sunday, the players came away happy with the job Fehr has done.
Its tough when youre a player; youre frustrated, you want to play. Overall, I think he did an incredible job for us, Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. We werent going to get something done until people wanted it to get done, I felt, and it finally came to that time. (Fehr) guided us well and I think we got a deal thats fair, and thats what we wanted from the beginning. We didnt want more than anyone else. We just wanted something that was fair. Finally we got that.
Marian Hossa, who said he always believed hockey would resume at some point this season, concurred.
We got a great guy, a great leader. Its huge for the future of the union and the players to have a guy like that in charge, Hossa said. " He did an excellent job. Thanks to him and the guys who were involved in the negotiations."
All players talked about during the lockout was how united they were behind Fehr. They trusted him, listened to him and appreciated how much he listened to them and believed Fehr was the man to solidify their union.
Apparently he did. Just look at those two votes for the disclaimer of interest near the end of the lockout: both were nearly unanimous in favor of it.
So much for that fractured union.
Fehrs presence was especially calming for those players participating in marathon negotiations down the stretch. There were so many topics, so many critical issues at such a critical time.
You had that optimism, but you knew there were some critical issues that could blow it up and you couldnt get excited. That was the most impressive thing about Don, Jamal Mayers, who spent a lot of those final meetings in the room with Fehr, said. We all had our different focuses but he had to have the big-picture view the whole time.
The players certainly gave up their share in this deal. But they wanted a fair shake and a stronger, more united union. And they say Fehr gave them both.
Hes one of the most humble guys Ive ever met, and probably the smartest in what he retains and just his wealth of knowledge and experience, Mayers said. He listens to the players and he was able to get us the best deal possible and we saved the season. And I think over time this is going to be a deal that works out well for the players.

Jeremy Roenick thinks NBA offseason player drama 'is a joke'

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AP

Jeremy Roenick thinks NBA offseason player drama 'is a joke'

For the past decade, NBA stars have moved away from trying to beat down each other on the court and have instead looked to form superteams in an effort to maximize their chances at winning a title or building a dynasty.

There's a debate to be had whether that's good or bad for the game, but the offseason drama has gotten under the skin of one former NHL player who has seen enough.

Jeremy Roenick, former Blackhawks winger and current NHL on NBC analyst, took to Twitter to voice his opinion surrounding the drama amid the Kyrie Irving situation evolving in Cleveland, and he didn't hold back:

Do you agree or disagree?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.