NHL lockout -- Theatre of the Absurd

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NHL lockout -- Theatre of the Absurd

Brian Campbells face showed more skepticism than optimism after Wednesdays skate with his former Blackhawks teammates. The defenseman, speaking before the NHL and NHLPA went through a marathon negotiation in New York City that seemed to yield progress, wasnt getting too giddy.

Yeah, I dont know. I dont want to get too far ahead, Campbell said. Ive gotten caught up in that, personally, thinking somethings going to happen. Its just kind of wait-and-see.

Its a wise outlook, considering how this whole collective-bargaining debacle has gone. Its truly been the Theatre of the Absurd: One day things are looking happy, perky, then 24 hours later the two sides are barely talking to each other. Case in point, the NHL and NHLPAs talks Wednesday and Thursday. After having several hours worth of seemingly meaningful negotiations on Wednesday (and into early Thursday), each side kept to itself on Thursday.

As CSNPhillys Tim Panacchio reports from New York, it was more of a day of potential litigation than of negotiation and mediation. It started when the league apparently changed language regarding hockey-related revenue after Wednesdays talks. Reportedly, that all got straightened out. But that apparently left angry feelings. The NHLPA, which didnt go through with its first disclaimer of interest by Wednesdays 11:59 p.m. (ET) deadline, gave players the chance to vote on another one. The union also went to court in the attempt to get the NHLs suit, which was filed the same day the NHLPA told players they would get to vote on that first disclaimer of interest.

Oh, and in the midst of all this legalese, the two sides will meet again tomorrow around 10 a.m. ET, the league told reporters in New York.

Confused yet? Annoyed yet? Dont answer that second one; we already know. Again, welcome to the Theatre of the Absurd, Act oh, weve lost track. For every high moment theres been a low moment; or more like a huh? moment.

So the saga continues. Ive been asked many times if I think there will be hockey this season. Yes, I do. To apply NHL deputy commissioner Bill Dalys infamous quote to my stance, that prediction is the hill I will die on. But its easy to understand why many have thrown their hands up in disgust and are tempted, not only to close their hearts to NHL hockey, but their wallets as well.

Campbells outlook is a smart one. Dont get too up or down, because the emotion will change quicker than the NHL & NHLPAs meeting plans.

Some call these highs, lows, actions and inactions just part of negotiations. Ill stick with absurd.

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

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.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

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.