Chicago Blackhawks

Even after last week's turn of events, Fehr still hopeful

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Even after last week's turn of events, Fehr still hopeful

Donald Fehr concluded his speech with a bit of an icebreaker.
If anyone has a brilliant idea on how to solve the lockout, dont keep it to yourself, Fehr said when he addressed the Canadian Auto Workers in Toronto on Saturday. We express hope that were able to find a way through this and get the guys back on the ice sooner rather than later.
Fehr said the two sides were close to doing that on Thursday; but after a bizarre series of events and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman denying that, talks broke off. But on Saturday, Fehr reiterated that he believes the players and league are close to a deal.
I think were very close, he told reporters following his speech. But you have to keep talking. So far theyre unwilling to do it.
As for the possibility of decertification, Fehr said, thats always an option and it has been exercised in other sports. Beyond that, I cant comment.
The league and players association left Thursday on a nasty note. A visibly angry Bettman said the two sides were not close to a deal, that the league would not budge on certain items including five-year player contract limits and that no further talks were planned.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly, in an email to the Associated Press on Friday, said, I have no reason, nor any intention of reaching out to the union right now. I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen.
Former Blackhawks defenseman Chris Campoli said the union remains very strong.
Dons our guy, our leader and we believe in him, he said. The last few years the associations come a long way in restoring respectability. Theres not going to be a deal without him there. He has the complete backing of our membership.
It was an interesting week, folks, no doubt. And while I rarely interject opinion into stories notice I didnt say Twitter Im going to now. I do believe the two sides are close. And I still believe a deal will be done. I said from the start that I thought theyd be playing some time in December or January, and I will go down swinging with that.
If Im wrong, Im wrong. Ill just add it to the tote board.

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.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.