Blackhawks News

Niemi talks… kind of

By Jeffrey Bartl

Ssshhh. Hear that? No? Good. Things are finally quiet this off-season. It’s kind of nice, actually. And speaking of quiet, former Blackhawks goalie  Antti Niemi finally talked a bit about his time in Chicago and his future.

In his interview with  David Haugh, Niemi expressed his disappointment and said he always believed a deal would get worked out. Reading his quotes, it convinced me further Niemi’s agent,  Bill Zito, persuaded Niemi to hold out for more cash and convinced him he can have the best of both worlds: The Blackhawks and the money.

"“I thought it would get worked out all along and never really thought it wouldn’t,” Niemi said. “And then when it happened and they signed (Marty) Turco, I was real disappointed. I still am. But it worked out for them, so …”"

Now, Niemi is looking for a new team. He squashed any thoughts of him playing in Europe and said he’ll only play in the NHL next season.  Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News wrote last week about Niemi’s possible destinations, pointing out the San Jose Sharks look to be the only real option right now.

Either way, it looks as if Niemi will be fighting for a No. 1 spot despite winning the Stanley Cup. Is the money really worth having to compete for the starting job again? If I were Niemi, I’d fire Zito before signing that next contract simply to keep Zito from getting any commission.

√  After  Ilya Kovalchuk had his deal rejected by the NHL and upheld by an arbitrator, the ruling also noted the league is still investigating the contracts signed by  Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard and the Blackhawks’  Marian Hossa.

The extensions signed by the other three players do not kick in until this season. Hossa is the only one to have already played a year under the signed contract. I honestly don’t believe the NHL will come after Hossa’s contract, nor do I believe they’ll make much of a stink over the other three front-loaded deals either. The NHL seems to be more out to make a point of attempting to scare teams off from signing players to similar deals in the future.

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