But, EXTRA-EXTRA…the Chicago Blackhawks have elected to not resign Stanley Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi and instead signed long-time Dallas netminder Marty Turco.
Niemi took the Blackhawks to arbitration and won his case. The arbiter found Niemi should be paid $2.75 million. As you probably know, the ‘Hawks don’t have much cap space, nor have they found a trade partner willing to eat a couple of the bad contracts on the current roster.
Since Chicago didn’t resign Niemi, he’s an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) and can sign with any team.
You’re probably asking, “How does Chicago dare not make a spot available for the goalie that won them the Stanley Cup? Certainly an exception needs to be made to keep Niemi.”
I don’t think so. Again, the Blackhawks salary cap strain has been well-documented this offseason. Several key players had to leave because Chicago was unable to pay them. Niemi is just another guy.
I think Niemi is a fine goaltender, but you won’t find many people that thought that he was a definite #1 guy. I think more and more teams are starting to view the goalie as less important if the men in front of him are very good. He’s neither Hasek nor Brodeur. He was the better of two lessers (so to speak) with overpaid Cristobal Huet.
Philadelphia is another team that has built its defensemen corps to the point it can get far with an above average goalie. I don’t believe Niemi won the series for the Hawks…he was just the goalie for the team that won the Cup. With players like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalamarrson in front of him, he did fine.
Again, I like Niemi. I don’t like him for $3 million per year when I have other things I need to take care of in a salary cap-conscious NHL.
Now Chicago can save a little over a million dollars, sign a couple players to give them 4th line depth, bury Huet in the minors to hide his $5 million salary, and still have an excellent goalie. He may be older, but Turco can play.
Much has been made about Turco’s lack of success in the postseason. True, he’s never won the Stanley Cup and has a 21-26 playoff record. However, he does own a 2.17 GAA and .914 save percentage in the post-season which is nothing to sneeze at. Maybe the lack of success for the Stars wasn’t all because of the former goalie.
It was only a few months ago that Chicago GM Stan Bowman was being dragged over the coals because he did not acquire a proven goalie at the trade deadline. Bowman stood with what he had and came out the winner. Maybe this kid, the offspring of quite possibly the greatest mind in the history of hockey, knows what he is doing in this instance, too.
There have been a few statements left in the comments area below the blogs and stories regarding the contract status of Admirals defenseman Scott Ford. Ford signed a two-year deal prior to last season and is, indeed, under contract for the 2010-2011 season with Milwaukee.
Former Admirals defenseman Mark Matheson signed with the Chicago Wolves.
Here’s a video interview with former Admirals forward Geoff Peters. I really enjoyed Geoff when he was here a couple seasons ago. He always told me he was very interested in becoming a broadcaster. I hope he heads that way with the career, he’d be awesome.
I’m looking forward to the start of the Wisconsin State Fair. Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion and I will see you there. I’ll be standing by to see if Mr. Geoffrion needs anything while fans shake his hand and get his autograph.
I’m also anxious for Aug. 13. Some of you know I serve as the Public Address Announcer for the Madison Mallards. The Mallards annual alumni game is that night at Warner Park in Madison. Several former Mallards players return to play along with many former big-leaguers. Last season, Paul Molitor was our special guest. He joined Ken Sanders, Bill Lee, Jay Johnston, Paul Wagner and many others. In the past we’ve had players like Harmon Killebrew, Fergie Jenkins, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue and Dave Kingman. This year, the special guest is Robin Yount. Autographs are part of the deal. It’s a fun, loose event.
I leave you with Ed Bruneteau, who played for the Milwaukee Chiefs in 1952-53.