Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman steps up when challenged, scores first career NHL goal

Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman steps up when challenged, scores first career NHL goal

When Andrew Shaw got traded to the Montreal Canadiens over the offseason, all eyes shifted to Ryan Hartman as the favorite to replace the scrappy forward who made a living in front of the net and getting under opponent's skin.

Perhaps part of the reason he was viewed as a strong candidate for that role was when Hartman introduced himself to the National Hockey League in February of 2015 seconds into his first shift by laying a huge hit on New Jersey Devils forward Daniel Zubrus, showing the Blackhawks the type of edge he brings.

In Wednesday's season opener though, Hartman made an impact on the scoresheet on a bizarre sequence.

In a 1-1 tie towards the latter stages of the second period, Hartman's stick was knocked out of his hands in the neutral zone and slid towards the blue line, where rookie Tyler Motte was carrying the puck into St. Louis Blues territory before tripping over it. 

Hartman quickly skated to it and picked it back up, kept the puck in the zone immediately after on an errant pass by Robert Bortuzzo, fired a half-slapper on net that missed by a few inches, then skated to the blue paint where Motte somehow fed him a pass and Hartman's ensuing shot snuck past Blues goaltender Jake Allen's five-hole for his first career NHL goal and Motte's first career point.

"It's a really good feeling," Hartman said following a 5-2 loss in front of 21,729 fans at the United Center, a handful of which were his family members. "It's something you dream about your whole life. Obviously you wish you got a win out of it, kind of takes away from it a little bit, but I'm pretty excited to get that out of the way and moving forward hopefully get some more here."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It was the second consecutive season a Blackhawks player scored his first career NHL goal in the season opener with Artemi Panarin doing the same against the New York Rangers last October.

It couldn't have come at a better time for the Blackhawks, who had recorded only three shots on goal in the period. 

"It certainly put us in a great spot," Joel Quenneville said. "We weren't going very well at that moment. It was a funny shift and we ended up getting a break and scoring so it was a momentum-changer for us. Those guys have done some good things for us throughout camp and we feel these guys need to play and get better as we go along here."

It also came shortly after Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews challenged his line on the bench to get things going after a dull period.

"I told Hartzy to go get a big shift there and he responded," Toews said. "It was good to see that, those two guys respond."

Hartman, who had one assist in eight career games entering the 2016-17 season, was one of six rookies in the Blackhawks' lineup, and is among them trying to earn more ice time.

He recorded just over eight and a half minutes in his season debut, but making the most of it is how you get rewarded with more and earn the trust of the coaching staff, and he did just that on Wednesday.

"You usually don't really think about it too much, but yeah it gets it out of the way and makes it one less thing to worry about I guess," Hartman said. "Now it's just hockey and go out there and play."

The NHLPA is continuing its deal with the CBA—here’s what that means

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USA Today

The NHLPA is continuing its deal with the CBA—here’s what that means

It was announced on Monday the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) has decided to continue its contract with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The CBA sets out the terms and conditions of employment for professional hockey players playing in the NHL, according to the CBA’s website. The current agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA was ratified in January of 2013 and is set to last ten years, expiring in September 2022. The NHL and the NHLPA had the opportunity to opt-out of the deal but have decided to remain for the duration of the agreement.

"While players have concerns with the current CBA, we agree with the league that working together to address those concerns is the preferred course of action instead of terminating the agreement following this season," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. "We have been having discussions with the league about an extension of the CBA and expect that those talks will continue."

The current CBA came about after a four-month lockout in 2013. Under this agreement, the league has grown in revenue, alongside adding the Vegas Golden Knights to the league in the 2017-18 season. There are plans to add a 32nd team to the league for the 2021-22 season in Seattle.

Why was the CBA under contention? While NHL players have benefited under this agreement, many feeling frustrated by the escrow system. Under this system, a percentage of players’ salaries are withheld every season to cover potential owner shortfalls. A portion of this is refunded to the players at the end of season.

Where do the Blackhawks stand on the issue? Captain Jonathan Toews isn’t a huge fan. In 2018, he spoke with ESPN about his dissatisfaction with the escrow system, saying "the No. 1 thing fans don't know about is that we're paying 10 to 20% [of our salary] in escrow every year."

NHL players would also like to revisit the current resolution on international play. Specifically, players would like the NHL to break for them to go to Olympics. NHL players were noticeably absent from the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, which ended a streak of five Olympic games with NHL players participating. This matter won’t be easy to fix before the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The NHL will have to make deals with both the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The main takeaway from the NHLPA sticking with the current CBA is that they’re deciding to keep the peace, avoiding another lockout. Fans and players alike will just have to wait and see how the chips will fall in the next few years in the league.

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Calvin de Haan practices with Blackhawks for first time: 'I really want to play that first game'

Calvin de Haan practices with Blackhawks for first time: 'I really want to play that first game'

Calvin de Haan has been skating for a while now, but he got the clearance from team doctors on Tuesday to participate in his first practice with the Blackhawks. The 28-year-old defenseman has been recovering from a shoulder injury and groin strain.

"Still taking my time with the shoulder and stuff," de Haan said. "Got a timeline for that, sooner than later. Other than that, feel pretty good. It's nice to be out there with the guys. Feels good to pass the pucks and get in the corners with the guys and just get into some game-like situations."

De Haan had shoulder surgery in May and was put on a four-to-six-month timeline by his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes. He admitted that his shoulder "feels fine" and it's his groin that's "been a bit of a hinder" more than anything, an injury he said he sustained pushing too hard to get back.

"Not really, no, " de Haan said when asked whether he feels limited. "A little banged up in the lower body right now. But other than that I'm working through that. Just typical bumps and bruises trying to get back into the swing of things. I feel pretty good. It was fun to be out there with the guys."

The Blackhawks announced on Day 1 of training camp that de Haan will be out of the lineup for two to three weeks. The timeline hasn't changed, but de Haan's goal is and always has been to be ready for Opening Night in Prague on Oct. 4.

"I hope so," de Haan said. "That's my game plan, anyways. I'm going to do everything in my power to be ready and hopefully make it a tough decision on the doctors and the staff to not let me play ... but at the end of the day it's their decision. I feel good. I'm just going to keep working and do as I'm told.

"I really want to play that first game but so be it if [I can't]. There's another 81 after that so there's not really a big rush."

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