Blackhawks

You're a Blackhawks fan, act like it

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You're a Blackhawks fan, act like it

Ever since the Blackhawks gained a point in the shootout loss and Detroit lost in regulation Thursday night, all Ive been hearing from Blackhawk fans is that they hope the team loses their season finale. IF they lose, that would leave them in sixth place facing either San Jose, L.A., or Phoenix.

If they win in regulation, they would clinch the fifth seed and face the Predators, with the first two games being played in the music city.

So now the debate begins, who do you want the Blackhawks to face in the first round of the playoffs?
Why fans are afraid of Nashville-
The Preds won the season series 4-1-1, which included back-to-back games before the all-star break and a 6-1 blowout on March 25.

Pekka Rinne saved 90 percent of the shots he faced against the hawks this season while giving up less than three goals per game.

Why fans should want to play Nashville-

The Blackhawks put up five goals on Rinne March 31.

They have also recorded at least a point in 15 of their last 17 games. That means they are playing well, and they have momentum on their side heading into the postseason.

And, its a nice short 90 minute flight to Nashville.

You really want to head West in the first round? Do you think L.A., San Jose or Phoenix are going to lie down for the Hawks?

Goaltender Jonathan Quick of the Kings has played VERY well against the Hawks this season - 3-1 record, giving up LESS than a goal per game with two shutouts.

This is only the second trip to the playoffs for the Kings in the last nine seasons, and you dont think their fans would be hyped up to host the first two games of the series?

And by the way, its a nice four-hour and 20-minute plane ride to L.A. That wont be fun for the Blackhawks if this series goes seven games resulting in three trips out west.
San Jose?
Did you see the Sharks-Kings game on Thursday night? That was intense. Even though the Blackhawks had the Sharks number in 2010, you cant assume the Hawks would skate into the Shark tank again and take the first two games, and Niemi has looked good of late, winning six of his last eight.
Phoenix?

Mike Smith had a 54-save shutout earlier this week, his third straight. So its safe to say hes trending up as the postseason nears.

Against the Coyotes this season, the Blackhawks have one win in four games.

Be careful what you wish for, Blackhawk fans. The bottom line is you should be rooting for your team to win every game.

You want the Blackhawks to reach the 100 point plateau, you want them to beat a rival and make the Red Wings head West for the first round.

It all makes sense, but if you really are cheering for them to lose tomorrow, turn in your Blackhawks fan card and your jersey because there are plenty of people who will be happy to take that from you and jump on board with the real fans.

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.