Antti Niemi

Sharks’ Niemi on facing ex-Chicago mates: “It’s a special game”

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There’ll be plenty of storylines at play tonight when the top two teams in the Western Conference — the Blackhawks and Sharks — meet at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

One of the most predominant storylines? Sharks goalie Antti Niemi playing the team he captured a Stanley Cup with in 2010.

“It’s been a while from last time,” Niemi told the Chicago Tribune about facing the ‘Hawks. “It’s still a bunch of the same guys, so of course, it’s a special game.”

It was only three years ago that Niemi was an unheralded Finnish netminder who backstopped Chicago to its first Cup win since 1961.

He went on to sign with the Sharks just months after hoisting Lord Stanley’s mug and become their undisputed No. 1 netminder.

He’s also faced his former team eight times, though it’s been nearly a year since the last meeting:

Nov. 24, 2010 — 5-2 win, stopped 30 of 32 shots
Dec. 11, 2010 — 2-1 win, stopped 28 of 29 shots
Dec. 30, 2010 — 5-3 win, stopped 26 of 29 shots
Mar. 14, 2011 — 6-3 loss, pulled after allowing 4 goals on 18 shots
Nov. 23, 2011 — 1-0 win, stopped 34 of 34 shots (first shutout vs. CHI)
Dec. 11, 2011 — 3-2 OT loss, stopped 31 of 34 shots
Jan. 15, 2012 — 4-3 loss, stopped 36 of 40 shots
Feb. 10, 2012 — 5-3 win, stopped 30 of 33 shots

As you can see, Niemi’s had a lot of success against his old team — but he also tends to face a lot of rubber in those games.

He’s expecting more of the same tonight, especially given how well Chicago’s played to start the year.

“It’s even more fun when we’re both playing well,” he explained. “It’s a bigger challenge for us, plus we’ve had a couple of days with no games.

“We really, really want to win today.”

Sweet ride: Blackhawks sponsor CJ Wilson Racing’s Porsche Cayman at Road America

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CJ Wilson Racing
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Chicago Blackhawks fans, start your engines!

Yes, according to MotorSportsTalk, the Blackhawks have become the main sponsor of CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 car, a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, for the upcoming IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event at Road America next month.

That’s a sweet ride.

From MotorSportsTalk:

The partnership will officially launch at the United Center on Wednesday, August 3, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m in advance of Saturday’s race. Fans will have the opportunity to get up close to the car, meet the drivers and Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard, and have their picture taken.

The race takes place Aug. 6 at Road America in Wisconsin.

Third team’s the charm? Devils ink Gormley to one-year, two-way deal

<>during the first period at TD Garden on November 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Since being selected by the Coyotes at 13th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brandon Gormley has had a difficult time breaking into the league on a full-time basis.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old Gormley joined his third NHL team, signing with the New Jersey Devils on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, the club announced.

Despite his draft status, Gormley has yet to play a full season in the big league, although this deal could give him an opportunity to end that. For the Devils, the deal adds more depth to the blue line in the organization and for a friendly price.

Last season, Gormley split time between the Colorado Avalanche and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage. Despite some high expectations about where he could fit on the Avs’ blue line, he was eventually put on waivers in January.

He ended the season with one assist in 26 games with the Avalanche, and hit the open market after Colorado didn’t give him a qualifying offer.

Wild sign Dumba to two-year, $5.1M deal

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After ongoing contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba, the two sides have come to a deal.

The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Dumba to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.1 million.

A breakdown of the new deal:

— In 2016-17: $2.35 million.

— In 2017-18: $2.75 million.

Selected seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, Dumba had his most productive campaign this past season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 81 games.

Known for his offensive skills — he had 20 goals and 57 points with Red Deer in the WHL in his draft year — Dumba also brings a coveted right-shot to the Wild blue line, which features four players with contracts of four or more years of term remaining.

As per General Fanager, the Wild still have $2.168 million in projected cap space, but they have secured all their remaining restricted free agents.

Rangers bring back forward Marek Hrivik (Updated)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 09:  Marek Hrivik #46 of the New York Rangers skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Red Wings 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Rangers announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Hrivik to a new contract. The term and financial details of the deal were not released.

Hrivik signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and ended up playing five games for the Rangers. He had one assist and a plus-3 rating during his time in the NHL.

Updated:

The young forward was an important part of New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Hrivik finished his AHL campaign with 12 goals and 29 assists. He tied for the team lead in assists and finished third in points.

If you go by Hrivik’s tweet, it appears as though he signed a one-year contract:

Now that Hrivik is re-signed, the Rangers have no more free agents of any kind, per General Fanager.