Chicago Blackhawks

Sharp extension; coaching changes coming?

Sharp extension; coaching changes coming?

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 7:25 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Stan Bowman was impressed with how Corey Crawford ascended to the No. 1 goaltender job. Now the Blackhawks general manager is going to try and sign him ASAP.

Bowman said Thursday that signing Crawford is a top priority for us and hes confident that a deal will get done before arbitration becomes an issue.

Its nice to know going into next year we're going to have some stability in goal. We still have to get him signed but were confident, Bowman said as the Blackhawks conducted exit interviews. He's earned the right to be No. 1 goalie for us. The team loves playing in front of him. He has the right demeanor and approach. He's clearly a priority for us.

Bowman said hes been waiting to see Crawford emerge these past few seasons, and the rookie didnt disappoint when he did. Crawford overtook the No. 1 job during the winter months and finished with a 33-18-6 regular-season record. Bowman called Crawfords Game 7 performance against Vancouver, in which he stopped 36 of 38, dynamite.

Bowman also wants to avoid the arbitration fracas of last summer when former goaltender Antti Niemi went to it and was awarded 2.75 million in a ruling.

We're going to (approach this) aggressively; I don't expect arbitration, said Bowman, who wants to sign Crawford to a multi-year deal.

Crawford would love to stay, too.

Its exciting to play here and I really want to be here next year, Crawford said. Its important when your management has confidence in you and wants you to be part of their organization. I want to be here, too, so well try to get something done that both sides are happy with and itll be fun when it happens.

Sharp talks

The Blackhawks have to wait until July 1 to start talking, but theyd also like to get Patrick Sharp another deal. The current deal for Sharp, who scored 34 goals in the regular season, is done at the end of next season (2011-12).

Patrick's been a huge part of our success last four or five seasons. Hes certainly a guy we want to keep around, Bowman said. I suspect well start negotiations and hopefully it doesn't carry out too long. Weve been able to get our core guys to want to stay here and Im sure Sharpie's in that group as well.

Sharp joked that I'd sign right now if you guys have a contract for me, but that hes going to leave that up to the powers that be.

Ive got another year left and that's Stan's business. That's what the agents are for, he said. I'm proud to be a Blackhawk and I'd love to stay one.

Coaching moves?

There are several NHL coaching vacancies right now; does Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland factor in any of them? Of all of them, the least surprising scenario would be Haviland possibly going to Florida, where former Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon now is.

Coach Joel Quenneville said hed be supportive if Haviland does go elsewhere.

As a guy who was in that position before and as a coach, you always want to try, if there's an opportunity, to move ahead, he said. We'd wish him well in that area because there are opportunities. We'll see what happens.

Injuries

Patrick Kane and Sharp went through their respective injuries this season; Kane suffered a high-ankle sprain on Dec. 5 and Sharp a left knee injury on March 20.

Kane admitted Thursday that he may have hurried back on his.

It felt better down the stretch. But its one of those things, at the time you want to get back as quick as possible, he said. Looking back I probably couldve taken a little more time off and rest it up a bit to be better for the rest of the season. But its tough to say. At the time you want to be back in the lineup.

Sharp said his knee improved as the postseason progressed.

It was fine to be honest with you, he said. It was a little difficult playing the last three regular-season games. It was not where I liked it to be. But it got better as it went on so it was no issue, no excuse.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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.