Blackhawks

More of the same for NHL, NHLPA; what's next?

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More of the same for NHL, NHLPA; what's next?

Another week has gone by. And it was another week of no progress between the NHL and NHLPA. Talking to each other, talking with a mediator, it doesnt matter: the lockout drags on, reaching Day 76 on Friday.

So where do the league and players association go from here?

Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested that the league and PA brass stay out of the next negotiation session, allowing owners and players to meet without them. The NHLPA did have an internal conference call planned today; as of this writing, theres been no report of whether or not itll go with Bettmans suggestion.

The two sides are running out of ideas to get something done. The only thing they seem to agree on is that theyre far apart.

So what about decertification? The NHLPA has discussed it internally; and considering how things have gone, it may be the next step. Players have their own thoughts on the possibility.

It makes sense when this lockout has gone this long and theres been no movement from the NHL and massive concessions from the players, Blackhawks defenseman and player representative Steve Montador said recently. Its unfortunate that we have to consider such measures, but its a serious one.

Jonathan Toews said decertification is an option. Im not sure if its the most imminent choice right now. But at some point the players have certain negotiating tactics that we need to use. Up until now its been a waiting game. Waiting to see if the NHL means business, if they have the nerve to take it as far as they have. Here we are almost in December, and they look like they couldnt care less.

A lot of people on the outside think the players are standing up for something that doesnt really mean anything, that in the end and in the future its not a lot of money. But it goes beyond that, Toews said. If we agree upon a six-year deal right now, whos to say the league wont try this again in six years? As players, we need to be strong and show them that, it doesnt matter what the terms are. We work hard for our contracts and work hard to get to where we are and to put on a show for the fans every single night. Theres a massive price to pay to get to this level. And (being) pushed around by our employer isnt going to happen.

The National Basketball Players Association went that route last year. On Nov. 10, 2011, the NBA issued a proposal to the NPBA, which the latter group rejected. A few days later, the NPBA voted to go forward with decertification. On Nov. 26, 2011, the two sides reached a tentative deal; 12 days later the NBAs board of governors ratified the deal and, on Christmas Day, the NBA was back.

Players are hoping that, if they take the decertification route, a quick resolution would come in the NHL, too.

Right now, its a viable option for us, Troy Brouwer said earlier this week. If nothing is going to push the owners to even want to negotiate, maybe this will force their hand. Were discussing it internally. I dont know if itll be our next move, but its definitely in the dialogue. If its our most viable option, well move toward it and get the process started.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.