Antti Niemi receives $2.75M arbitration award; Chicago has two days to decide what's next


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Niemi10.jpgThe wait to find out Antti Niemi’s salary arbitration award is over. Chris Kuc reports that the Cup-winning Finnish goalie received a one-year, $2.75 million ruling. Please note that this isn’t a binding contract, though; Niemi’s fate with the Balckhawks has not yet been decided.

In case you haven’t been following arbitration situations, the Blackhawks have a few options. They can honor the award and sign Niemi to that contract, walk away and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent or trade away his deal to another team. Chicago will have 48 hours to make a decision and will have an opportunity to buyout a contract in that two-day window of time.

Our previous stories indicate that the Blackhawks wanted to pay him $2 million while Niemi was asking for $3 million. While that $2.75 million reward is close to what the Niemi camp wanted, that’s not a bad deal when you consider the scant amount of NHL goalies with Cup rings making under $3 million. On the flip side, there isn’t much to say that Niemi will be able to replicate that performance since he hasn’t even played a full season as a No. 1 starter.

Will the Blackhawks bring back Niemi or move on to another option, such as free agents Marty Turco or Jose Theodore? Perhaps they’ll buyout someone else or ship Cristobal Huet’s massive $5.6 million contract to the minors? The team has two days to make a decision. We’ll keep you updated as they mull over their options.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

1 Comment

For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.