Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

When the news came down that Marian Hossa would miss the 2017-18 season, most first thoughts were about his health. But it was only natural to look at the business implications, and the possibility of Hossa going on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

That would solve the Blackhawks’ cap issues, right? That would give them more money to spend, right? Well, not exactly. See, the LTIR can be a bit complicated. It can also be tricky to explain. And right now, even Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is trying to figure out how this all develops for the team.

“I think there’s a little bit of a misconception on the LTI provision in the salary cap, and understandably so. It’s very complicated. It’s not as simple or as easy as people think it to be,” Bowman said on Thursday, the day before the Blackhawks hosted the 2017 NHL Draft. “I don’t want to get into too many details because it’s hard to explain it all, but there’s a couple different ways it can work.

"You can use offseason LTI and in-season LTI and there’s drawbacks to both, and there’s limitations the way that the league handles those things. It’s not as simple as people might think that we just have this ability to suddenly replace Marian with another player. It’s way more involved than that.”

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below the $75 million ceiling when the regular season begins. Of the offseason and in-season LTI options, Bowman told CSN's Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd that if the Blackhawks choose the latter, "Marian has to count to start the season with his full amount."

It’s not about the Blackhawks finding a guy this summer that makes an equal cap it to Hossa.

“If you did that you would be essentially starting the year with an inability to make any transactions," Bowman said. "And that’s why, it’s a harder discussion to have because you’ve got to give you examples of if this happens. But it just doesn’t work that way. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. It’s a much more complicated provision than people think. It’s not some easy cap solution where we just go sign a player for the same amount and off we go. It’s much more problematic than that.”

The NHL will be looking at the situation, although there doesn’t seem to be anything that would keep the Blackhawks from putting Hossa on LTIR. Bowman wasn’t concerned about it.

Still, the Blackhawks will still be doing their share of offseason math.

“I know how it works. What’s going to happen is a different question," Bowman said. "You don’t make those decisions overnight, but I think that understandably there’s probably a lot of confusion, because it’s not your job to run the salary cap for a team. So, I can get why you don’t know all the little details, and it is a very intricate provision in the CBA. So, we understand it. We’ve used LTI before, so it’s not like it’s something we’ve never been faced with. It’s just a factor that we’ll get through.”  

Drake Caggiula doesn't agree with Game 2 suspension, but 'I respect the decision'

Drake Caggiula doesn't agree with Game 2 suspension, but 'I respect the decision'

As a player who's had a history of head injuries, Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula is all for the league punishing illegal checks to the head. Those kinds of hits have no place in the game.

It's why Caggiula was suspended for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers after delivering a "high, forceful hit on Oilers forward Tyler Ennis [in Game 1] that picked the head, making it the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable," according to the NHL Department of Player Safety.

While he respects the ruling, Caggiula doesn't necessarily agree with it.

"I think what you can ask for is consistency around the league and make sure that it's the same for everybody," Caggiula said. "It was a one-game suspension, I don't necessarily agree with it, but I respect the decision and I totally respect the fact we want to protect players' heads and safety."

The incident occurred at the 7:42 mark of the second period on Saturday. Caggiula's right shoulder clearly made contact with Ennis' head, but it was a tricky play to analyze because Ennis' head positioning changed on the follow-through of his clearing attempt.

At no point during Wednesday's pregame video conference call did Caggiula try to defend his hit on Ennis. He simply wanted clarity from the Department of Player Safety on how that specific hit was different from other non-suspendable ones and got his answer.

Now he's ready to move on.

"The consistency thing is what we're all looking for as players," Caggiula said. "We just want to know what the standard is. I know what the standard is now, and I have no issue with it."

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Can Blackhawks' Alex DeBrincat break through in Game 3 against the Oilers?

Can Blackhawks' Alex DeBrincat break through in Game 3 against the Oilers?

In the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Oilers, DeBrincat was held off the scoresheet in Game 1's 6-4 win, but picked up two assists in Game 2's 3-6 loss.

The 22-year-old winger has been on the Hawks' third line for the series against the Oilers with rookie center Kirby Dach. The third combo was without forward Drake Caggiula on Monday, who was suspended for Game 2 after an illegal check to the head of Edmonton forward Tyler Ennis in Game 1.

John Quenneville slotted in for Caggiula in the beginning of Game 2, but Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton had Patrick Kane double shift on the third line for a lot of the game, leaving Quenneville with just 6:04 of ice time for the contest.

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DeBrincat finished Game 2 one of four Hawks to log a positive +/- rating at +3. His center, Dach, was also a +3. 

"Playoffs (are) a little different obviously," DeBrincat told the media Tuesday. "I think I’m just trying to go out there, create some havoc, get some offensive (zone) time, you know, doing anything I can to help the team win. I think that’s the goal here. It doesn’t really matter if you get points in a game if you lose. We’re just trying to go out there each night and win."

DeBrincat acknowledged having Kane double shift on the third line didn't exactly hurt his game. 

"I think anytime you’re playing with a guy of that caliber in Kaner, I think you just got to get open and he can find you or vice versa. I think it’s pretty easy to play with a guy like that. That was pretty easy for us yesterday."

On Monday, Edmonton cooled off the Hawks' top line by countering them with McDavid's line, shutting down rookie forward Dominik Kubalik, who had five points (two power-play goals, three assists) and Jonathan Toews, who had three points (one power-play goal, one 5-on-5 goal, one assist) in Game 1.

If the matchups remain the same after Caggiula is potentially added back to the third line for Game 3, adding some energy, DeBrincat riding his offensive momentum from Game 2 and finding the back of the net himself could be a difference-maker for the Hawks in Game 3 Wednesday.

"I’ve liked him both games," Colliton said Tuesday. "I thought that line – Kirby, DeBrincat and later, Kaner – they were good. I thought that’s part of why (we) put Kane in with those two because it looked like the young guys were going. (DeBrincat's) habits and his skating and work ethic away from the puck, they’ve been really good. We know he can score. He had a couple good chances, particularly in Game 1. I thought he was around the net and causing some havoc there last night and it resulted in some goals. Just got to have good habits and (be) doing the right things. The puck drops on (his) tape and we believe he’ll put it in."