Chicago Blackhawks

NHL, NHLPA need to start talking -- to each other, that is

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NHL, NHLPA need to start talking -- to each other, that is

In terms of NHL-NHLPA negotiations, Wednesday was just another day. It was just another day of the two sides not getting together to negotiate, just another day of a stalemate, just another day with no hockey.

Meanwhile, the Canadian radio airwaves were abuzz with league and players association brass interviews. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly did two, including one with Hockey Night in Canada in which he said, yes when Elliote Friedman asked him if we have a season. Donald Fehr was talking, too, to Sportsnet 590 The Fan, prior to Daly joining the station later in the day.

Yes, they were all talking, and the links to each interview link is in this link. But we digress. Lets just say that there will be hockey this season. Great. Awesome. Its what weve all wanted to hear since, oh, September. But heres a novel idea: if were going to have hockey, how about the brass gets back to talking to each other instead of radio hosts. Now.

Even if that 48-season is saved, with the two sides starting in mid-January and at this point, thats about the only time frame remaining to start not talking for nearly a week now is ludicrous. Its Dec. 19, six days before Christmas, when were all reminded to be good to each other, to have peace, and that its better to give than to receive. But laid-off team employees arent receiving a thing. Vendors whose shifts have been cut or lessened arent receiving much either. Local businesses are receiving less. Fans arent receiving their moneys worth of games.

And through the airwaves, the league and PA say they have nothing more to give.

Merry Christmas.

For those who were hoping there would be even a training camp around this time and that includes myself forget it. The hope that things would get resolved after the last cancellation of games has dissolved into mist. And, as Daly said on both radio interviews today, more cancellations are likely this week. The same Daly who said yes when asked do we have a season.

The breaking point is just about there. That 48-game season can only fit in a certain amount of space. The NHL needs to get back on the ice to avoid irreparable damage. Both sides are aware of that. So now get together and talk about it. And dont stop talking until the deal is done.

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.