Some quick items to pass along as you head into your weekend.
The Blackhawks took the day off from practice, as they get ready for a 5-game-in-7-day stretch that starts this Sunday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes. From there it’s up to Minnesota to face the Wild, back home to host the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes, then up for a rare trip to Air Canada Center to take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto in a nation-wide broadcast of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on March 5th.
Throw in the trade deadline on top of that, and it means us fellas here at BlackhawkUp.com are going to be busier than an incontinent dog in a fire hydrant factory over the next 10 days. Look for us chiming in two to three times a day here on the site, plus updates via Facebook and Twitter at @blackhawksup. Click on the links and keep up with the latest.
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But despite the ice being empty at Johnny’s Ice House West, there was some significant news for Blackhawks fans. As we told you earlier today, much-maligned (and deservedly so) defenseman Nick Boynton was placed on waivers by the team.
Boynton had been the target of much criticism for his pylon-esque qualities, his propensity for staring at his feet in front of the net while opposing forwards scurried around him at will, and throwing the puck away in his own zone with such frequency that some had begun to wonder if he needed an eye exam.
There is no chance anyone will pick him up, but this is of no consequence. He’s gone much farther than he ever should in today’s NHL, and he won’t be missed. There is a tee time with his name on it somewhere in the world, and with luck he will have the rest of his life to find it. Credit GM Stan Bowman with having the foresight to clear some much-needed cap space in advance of Monday’s trade deadline, and picking the right way to do it.
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Speaking of trade deadline, the rumors started flying this morning about some potential acquisitions that Bowman might be looking to pull the trigger on. It’s no secret that he’s been looking at finding a #5-#6 defenseman who can kill penalties, and that was the focus of the attention this morning.
Word on the Twitterscape is that the Blackhawks have three defensemen on their radar screen. First is Buffalo Sabres captain (!!!) Craig Rivet. Rivet cleared waivers yesterday, and is on re-entry waivers as you read this. The Blackhawks may (unconfirmed) have put in a claim already, but this isn’t first-come, first-served. There’s a pecking order to this waiver business, and it remains to be seen if we get him or not.
Next is Colorado Avalanche youngster Matt Hunwick. I’m not sure what the draw is here. He was acquired from Boston earlier this season, and despite one notable year with the Bruins he isn’t anything to write home about. 5′ 11″ and 193 pounds isn’t enough to push around opposing forwards crowding your goalie on the penalty kill, so why this kid is getting any consideration at all is a little puzzling. Let’s hope he’s a last-resort choice.
Finally, there is rumored to be interest in Tampa Bay Lightning veteran Brett Clark. He has 11 seasons under his belt with the Bolts, Avs, Thrashsers, and Canadiens. There’s this year and next left on a $3 million (total) contract, meaning a $1.5 million cap hit — close to what the Hawks can afford. He has regularly contributed 20 points per year, and has 8G/15A over 60 games so far this season. The down-side to this deal is, rumor has it that Tampa is asking for a roster player in return. Bowman has let it be known that he is only willing to part with a combination of prospects and picks, so this may be over before it starts.
Look for all this to heat up on Saturday, when we will find out if the Blackhawks put in a claim on Rivet, and if he was awarded to us. If the answer to either of those questions turns out to be ‘no’, then Stan has a few phone calls to make before midday Monday.
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