Arbitration is not an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, but with other teams dealing with that factor, we take a look back at past arbitration cases in the Windy City
With the Chicago Blackhawks Convention ending this past weekend, I decided to look at other issues around the league. This is the week for pending arbitration hearings. All the big-name stars have agreed to new contracts with their respective teams, so there is no franchise-altering name on the list.
As you can see, the Blackhawks do not have any arbitration cases pending. Since the Blackhawks on Jul 14 signed Erik Gustafsson, their last restricted free agent, they do not have any pending hearings.
General manager Stan Bowman has not gone to arbitration recently. However, he did face an important hearing decision early on in his tenure as GM.
Antti Niemi‘s hearing
During Bowman’s tenure, the Blackhawks’ most important arbitration hearing was for Antti Niemi. Niemi was coming off a Stanley Cup championship. He was looking to get a significant raise from his $826, 875 salary in 2009-10.
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Now Bowman had a choice to make. Niklas Hjalmarsson had been given an offer sheet from the San Jose Sharks for four years and $14 million. Due to the salary cap situation the Blackhawks were in, Bowman could not keep both Hjalmarsson and Niemi.
Bowman decided to match Hjalmarsson’s offer sheet and continue to negotiate with Niemi. Bowman must have thought it would been harder to replace Hjalmarsson at the time. He also had mentioned other alternatives to Niemi.
After not being able to agree to a contract, Niemi took the Blackhawks to arbitration. He was awarded $2.75 million dollars by the arbiter. Bowman decided he could not retain Niemi at that price and decided to walk away from Niemi.
Bowman would then sign Marty Turco for $1 million and bring up Corey Crawford. Niemi would end up signing with the Sharks for $2 million. He would sign another long-term deal with the Sharks after that season. Crawford beat out Turco that season and has been the starter every year since. The ’Hawks would win two more Cups with Crawford and Hammer on the roster.
In hindsight, Bowman made the right decision by walking away from Niemi, retaining Hammer and bringing up Crawford, but at the time there was a lot of uncertainty.
Stan Bowman’s most recent arbitration cases
Bowman does not go to arbitration with his players often. He last went to arbitration in 2011.
The last two players to file against the Blackhawks were Chris Campoli and Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg would not go to his hearing, as he would sign a two-year deal before his hearing date.
Campoli would take the Blackhawks to his hearing. The arbiter would award him $2.5 million, but Bowman would walk away from the ruling. He was upset that Campoli did not take their previous contract offer and decided not to pay him.
So we should look forward to not seeing many arbitration hearings in the Blackhawks’ future under Bowman. If we do, Bowman is more than likely to walk away from the player.