Blackhawks: Brandon Saad deal proves NHL is just a business


Blackhawks: Brandon Saad deal proves NHL is just a business

When the Blackhawks announced they were trading Brandon Saad, there were a lot who were stunned.

Apparently, that included Saad.

“A little shocked,” Saad said via conference call. “It’s my first time going through the process. At the same time it’s a business.”

Saad’s biggest introduction to this business we call the NHL came on Tuesday afternoon, when the Blackhawks traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a seven-player deal. The forward said two weeks ago that he planned to re-sign with the Blackhawks but it didn’t happen. General manager Stan Bowman said the two sides never really got close to getting a deal done.

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“He’s a great young player, great young man. It was a joy to have him on our team and we certainly wish him the best in Columbus,” Bowman said on Tuesday. “From our perspective it’s difficult to make trades sometimes, especially in a case like this. But this is a business and we have a job to do and my job is to prep our team to remain competitive and win again next season.”

Bob McKenzie reported yesterday that Saad’s camp was asking for salary that came with an average cap hit of $6.5 million. Saad wouldn’t comment on what kept he and the Blackhawks apart on a deal, or what contract he could end up getting with the Jackets. A message sent to his agent, Lewis Gross, was not immediately returned.

Saad said he mostly stayed out of the negotiating process.

“As a player, I try to stay out of it as much as possible. You just try to play the game and have fun,” he said. “As for the business part, you try to take the emotion out of it. I let my agent do that and he keeps me informed and talks to me about things that are going on, but for the most part I let him do the work. He knows the business more than I do.”

As for Saad, the Blue Jackets will sign him. Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said on Tuesday that the team was already in discussions with Saad’s agent, Lewis Gross, on the deal. Kekalainen added that he’s not concerned if other teams have offer sheets for Saad.

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“We’re just going to match it,” he said. “We’re not in a vulnerable position with our cap situation where it would benefit anybody to try to offer sheet him. We would just match it.”

Saad may be only 22 years old but he already brings a strong winning pedigree to the Blue Jackets. Saad was a Calder Trophy finalist during his rookie year and claimed his second Stanley Cup in his first three seasons last month. He joins a Blue Jackets squad that’s trying to find some consistent success. Columbus made the playoffs in 2013-14, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. They hoped to build on that success last year but were derailed by a plethora of injuries; they finished 11th in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” Saad said. “At the same time they’ve had some tight playoff series where they’ve played well. I’m looking forward to going there and helping that team."

Saad’s pedigree will certainly benefit a Jackets team that has high hopes entering this season.

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“A winner. We’ve talked about this internally, with our team and with our management group, we want winners here and he’s a proven winner,” Kekalainen said of Saad. “He’s won two Stanley Cups, he’s 22 years old, he has speed, size, strength and he plays the game hard. He has an excellent work ethic on and off the ice. He brings a proven winner to our group.”

There was plenty of shock to go around when Saad was traded. Saad experienced some of it himself. His path is set and he’ll certainly get rewarded monetarily. Now the Jackets hope Saad can help them find more success moving forward.

“Things are going to happen and most guys don’t play their entire career in the same place,” Saad said. “I’m a little sad to leave because of the relationships that I’ve built with those guys [in Chicago], but this is part of the business and I’m excited about what’s in front of me with the Blue Jackets.”

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."