Thursday, July 1, 2010
By Chris Boden
Turns out Stan Bowman may not have been done Wednesday night. Maybe now he is, with restricted free agent Andrew Ladd headed to Atlanta for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2nd round pick.
Fans are hoping Bowman is ready to start adding bodies again after stating last weekend he believed he didnt necessarily need to make more trades, while giving them fair warning all along of the difficult decisions that lay ahead amidst all the Cup celebrations.
Difficult, indeed. The General Manager was confident about keeping his two other restricted players Antti Niemi and Niklas Hjalmarsson during Wednesday nights conference call announcing the trade of Kris Versteeg to Toronto.
Those were the only two names specifically mentioned, however, and not Ladds. Whether it was a case of contract numbers with the Ladd camp being exchanged or not, the departures of Byfuglien, Eager, now Ladd, and perhaps Adam Burish, as well, creates a definite need for size and physical presence moving forward. Top 2008 draft pick Kyle Beach may be ticketed to provide some of that after an outstanding season in the WHL. Heading towards late Thursday afternoon, the Hawks two main unrestricted free agents Burish & John Madden -- were still on the market, with signs seemingly pointed east. New Jersey was believed to be one of the teams in contact with Burish, but the Devils and other teams were sorting out their own financial situations. New Jersey had just signed defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder to mega-deals, after losing Paul Martin to Pittsburgh, which also signed Zbynek Michalek away from Phoenix.
One of the additional challenges facing Bowman and the Hawks: the bonuses from winning the Stanley Cup have to be counted against this years Salary Cap meaning the Hawks cap is actually about 55 million. Theyve now shed about 10 million, not counting whatever is done with Cristobal Huets 5.6 million salary next season.
Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.
Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.
“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”
Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.
The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.
With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.
A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.
A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.
Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.
Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.