Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Roundup: Hejda Out; Cup Engraved

By Colin Likas

The Chicago Blackhawks sure were busy last night, and that has (somewhat) continued into Sunday. The biggest piece of news from a whole slew of events involving the men in the Indian Head was the agreement to an eight-year deal between the Blackhawks and defenseman Brent Seabrook, keeping him in Chicago until he is 39-years-old.

After that deal was signed, the Blackhawks went out and defeated the rival St. Louis Blues 3-1 in preseason action at the United Center. The team fell behind after one period thanks to a Joel Edmundson powerplay goal, but Chicago would score the game’s final three markers, coming from Marian Hossa (powerplay), Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Keith’s tally came with less than four minutes to go in regulation.

Also last night, the Blackhawks released veteran defenseman Jan Hejda from his professional tryout contract with the club, trimming the roster to 36 players along with the reassigning of forward Tanner Kero to Rockford. Hejda, 37, was trying to latch on with the club as a sixth or seventh defenseman and will now try to find work elsewhere. Viable options for the sixth and seventh D spots still hanging around camp include Michal Rozsival, Lubomir Visnovsky, Kyle Cumiskey and Viktor Svedberg.

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The last of those four is somewhat a surprise considering a fellow young blueliner who has grabbed a lot more attention in Ville Pokka has already been sent to Rockford. The guess is that Svedberg eventually meets the same fate, but there’s always a chance he could stick around for the regular season. Assuming Rozsival’s surgically-repaired ankle is good to go, he’ll obviously be on the Blackhawks’ opening-night roster since he now has a contract. That leaves 39-year-old Visnovsky and 28-year-old Cumiskey to battle for the seventh position, which may become important considering the question marks at the back end of Chicago’s defensive corps.

After the dust had settled with all this news, we were treated to the newest engraving of the Stanley Cup, featuring the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks.

Two omissions that have quickly been picked up on by several fans are those of goaltender Antti Raanta and former assistant equipment manager Clint Reif. Raanta was traded to the New York Rangers this offseason and was later quoted as saying he hoped the Blackhawks lost in the 2015 playoffs, though it appears those comments were taken out of context. Reif committed suicide during the 2014-15 season, shaking up the locker room and resulting in a touching moment involving Reif’s son at the Stanley Cup rally.

As Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago points out, a main requirement to have a player’s name on the Cup is 41 games played during that season. Raanta played in just 14 games during the 2014-15 campaign, and though the Blackhawks could have appealed to league to get Raanta’s name on the Cup, it appears they either didn’t or ran out of room to do so.

I say “ran out of room to do so” because of this information:

The Blackhawks could have simply run out of room on the Cup for Raanta after trying to get front-office and behind-the-scenes types onto the chalice as well. Reif, unfortunately, was not among those groups, as the Blackhawks were limited to just two staff members whose names could be on the Cup due to all the other names already going on it, according to Myers. Myers did point out, however, that Reif’s family will receive a Stanley Cup ring at the official team ceremony down the line.

So that’s a quick wrapup of team news from the past 16 or so hours. I’m sure there will be more in the near future, likely more roster cuts to get closer to the 23-player threshold necessary for the regular season. The Blackhawks do not suit up for another preseason game until Thursday in St. Louis.

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