Blackhawks

Owners' proposal now includes salary cap rollback

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Owners' proposal now includes salary cap rollback

Less than 48 hours ago, five initial proposals from NHL owners concerning CBA negotiations were released by RDS' Renaud Lavoie. And each point was, to say the least, a bit worrisome.

The owners' requests were rather drastic and make a lockout appear more realistic than we'd like to imagine.

But Sunday morning, additional information was shared by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, and unfortunately it doesn't show any new signs of hope for an easy future between the players and owners.

Brooks reported the proposal would include an enormous roll back of the salary cap. Needless to say, he didn't hold his feelings back concerning the matter:

"The NHL's Declaration of War presented to the Players' Association in the guise of a first proposal on Friday would roll back the salary cap to approximately 52.5 million for 2012-13. The drop of nearly 10 million from last season would represent the lowest number since 2007-2008, sources with knowledge of the league's scheme have told Slap Shots.

"The NHL wants to roll the clock back to the 1960s, when its athletes were powerless and utterly without leverage. A proposed five-year Entry Level system followed by five years without the right to salary arbitration before free agency after 10 accrued NHL seasons would leave every player in the league at the mercy of his team for a decade in a hard cap league.

"That means that a minimum of 130 million in guaranteed contracts would somehow have to be shed by 19 teams that are currently over the league's proposed cap.

When Donald Fehr first addressed the media at the NHLPA meetings held in Chicago, he said he believed a roll back of the salary cap wouldn't be part of the negotiations, considering the players, for the most part, consented to the league in the previous lockout. But Brooks' report shows that owners are apparently looking to make up for what they didn't do in the previous round of negotiations back in 2004.

Again, these are initial offerings and of course, they're going to be substantially higher than what can realistically be expected to see in the long run. But if owners are proposing changes greater than what was initially anticipated, the league could have a very long road ahead of them.

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!