Blackhawks

Priority No. 1 for Hawks: Re-sign Crawford

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Priority No. 1 for Hawks: Re-sign Crawford

Wednesday, April 27, 2011Posted: 9:00 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks brass will undoubtedly have their to-do list this offseason. No, it wont have as many drastic decisions on it as last summer, but there are still a few items to which the powers that be must attend.

So what should be the No. 1 task? Signing the No. 1 goaltender.
Corey Crawford waited for his chance and seized it this season, taking the goaltending reins and running with them. And he was there right to the end, nearly stealing the Blackhawks a Game 7 victory against the relentless Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

That was one of the greatest goaltending performances in clutch situations youre ever going to see, said coach Joel Quenneville after the game.

And to a man, Crawfords teammates echoed that sentiment. They believed in him, wanted to win for him and know they owe much to him.

So do his bosses.

Stan Bowman told Chris Boden a few weeks ago that he had initial talks with Crawfords agent and now that the seasons over they need to get talking again. Lets face it, folks. The Blackhawks do not want to be wandering into late Julyearly August again wondering who their No. 1 goaltender is going to be. They rolled the dice letting Antti Niemi go, but once he got the top job, Crawford showed that hes more than capable of being that guy. Yes, Niemi and the Sharks are playing on this postseason but the Finn looked shaky in several games against the Kings and got pulled in two of them.

The fact that Crawford wasnt a Calder Trophy finalist is a bit surprising. But so many awards have their list of contenders before the season even begins. Crawford wasnt a blip on the NHL radar when this past season began. Hes more than that now. During Game 7, some NHL writers tweeted that they wanted to review their Calder ballots again. Hes gotten everyones attention.

The Blackhawks will have about 8 million in cap space entering next season, give or take any moves they make. Set aside a quarter of that cash for Crawford he earned 800,000 in 2010-11 -- this season and the next. Hey, lets not get crazy here. Crawfords good, but this was his first full season in the NHL. Hell continue to grow and when he earns more money later, pay him more money later.

The Blackhawks got a second chance at goaltending this season. Crawford rewarded their patience and faith in him with steady play and crucial victories. Its time they reward him.
Toews a Selke finalist

Captain Jonathan Toews was named one of the three finalists for this seasons Frank Selke Trophy, awarded for the leagues best defensive forward. Vancouvers Ryan Kesler and Detroits Pavel Datsyuk are the other two finalists.

Toews led all Blackhawks forwards in plus-minus with his career-high plus-25. He had 95 takeaways. This is the first time Toews has been named a Selke finalist; he was third among Calder Trophy voting in 2008.

The winner will be announced during the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement on Return to Play plan and CBA extension

NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement on Return to Play plan and CBA extension

One day after finalizing the protocols for Phases 3 and 4, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Monday that they have reached a tentative agreement on the Return to Play plan and Collective Bargaining Agreement extension that runs through the 2025-26 season and includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar.

The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL's Board of Governors as well as the NHLPA's Executive Board followed by the league-wide NHLPA membership vote, which means the process could take roughly three-to-five days to finalize. Until then, it's only unofficially official.

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The NHL released three key dates in advance of the Return to Play plan and CBA ratification:

  • July 13 — Formal training camps open
  • July 26 — Teams travel to hub cities
  • Aug. 1 — Start of qualifying round


If all goes as planned, Blackhawks training camp will open at Fifth Third Arena exactly one week from Monday before the team heads to Edmonton, where they will take on the Oilers in a five-game play-in series.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

On Monday, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews skated with teammates at the Hawks' practice facility for the first time since the NHL paused on March 11.

Teams have been allowed to hold small, voluntary group workouts since June 8 in accordance with the NHL's Return To Play plan. Blackhawks players first started showing up at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago on June 10.

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Patrick Kane and goalie Malcolm Subban, who have been regularly participating in the on and off-ice workouts since they began, were also on the ice with Toews Monday.

Related: Patrick Kane, several Blackhawks return to practice facility

Training camps are scheduled to start on July 13 for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs held in Edmonton and Toronto, the two hub cities.

The postseason, which has the Hawks facing the Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series is slated to begin August 1.