Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya signs two-year deal with Dallas Stars

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Johnny Oduya signs two-year deal with Dallas Stars

Johnny Oduya was going to give the Blackhawks some time.

He won two Stanley Cups in Chicago. He contemplated re-signing here but it was going to take time to figure out things financially, given the Blackhawks’ salary-cap situation.

But it didn’t work out. And now, Oduya joins another former Blackhawks teammate on a division rival.

Oduya signed a two-year-contract worth $7.5 million ($3.75 cap hit) with the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. The Stars continue to grab Blackhawks, after trading for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt on Friday.

General manager Stan Bowman said last week after the Blackhawks acquired Daley that Oduya’s possible return was a “fluid” situation. Oduya had a cap hit of $3.375 in his final contract with the Blackhawks, who are just a shade under the $71.4 million cap they have to be under to start the season. But on Tuesday, Oduya’s agent Don Meehan confirmed that his client would not re-sign with the Blackhawks.

[MORE HAWKS: Daley, Garbutt ready to blend in with Blackhawks]

“Obviously they were trying to make something work. As a player, you want to wait when there’s somebody in the situation like that that’s willing to maybe look into a little bit more, that’s there’s an option to stay,” Oduya said via conference call on Wednesday. “But as time progresses, other things become more interesting and maybe you start to, how you say, see yourself in a different spot.”

Now Oduya joins a Stars team that is looking “to start moving up,” as their general manager Jim Nill said. The Stars have plenty of youth but were looking for defensive help and veteran leadership, especially after trading Daley. Oduya brings that.

“When we went back in spring and doing evaluation of the team, we knew we wanted to get strong on the back end. Once we knew we were going to lose Daley, [signing Oduya] was something we wanted to look at,” Nill said. “We were comfortable coming into the season. But if you can add someone of Johnny’s stature, you can’t go wrong.”

Sharp also possessed the leadership and Cup-winning pedigree the Stars wanted. Oduya said he got a text from Sharp a few days ago.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I don’t know if that was the breaking point in making a decision,” Oduya said. “But of course, if you have a guy like that giving [Dallas] a lot of credit, that’s something you take in your evaluation.”

The Blackhawks’ offseason of change continues. They’ve already parted ways with three players who played key roles in two or three of these Stanley Cup victories. They still have work to do. They want to re-sign Marcus Kruger; Kruger’s agent J.P. Barry said last week that he and Kruger will practice “patience” as they look for a multi-year contract.

Oduya and the Blackhawks tried to make it work again. It didn’t. Now Oduya sees himself in a different spot.

“Maybe last year was not the result [the Stars] wanted. But every time you played them they were a tough team to play against. The potential was there. It could be just a matter of one or two players maturing more, taking that extra step and breaking through that barrier,” Oduya said. “The leadership was good and the coaching is there now. There are some additions on goaltending, too. I think all parts look good. It’s just a matter of taking that next step.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.