Bryan Bickell, Michal Handzus

‘Hawks re-sign Bickell: Four years, $16 million


After clearing some cap space by dealing Dave Bolland to Toronto and Michael Frolik to Winnipeg, the Chicago Blackhawks signed power forward Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract extension.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports it’s a $16 million deal, with an average annual cap hit of $4 million. That’s a sizeable raise for Bickell, who was making a modest $541,666 per year on his old deal.

The 27-year-old winger had a breakthrough playoff performance en route to the Stanley Cup, in which he scored 17 points in 23 games — including nine goals — emerging as the big-body, net-front presence the club lacked since Dustin Byfuglien filled it during the 2010 Stanley Cup run.

That came on the heels of a successful 2013 regular season, in which he had 23 points in 48 games while averaging close to 13 minutes per game.

Bickell had indicated his desire to stay in Chicago, hinting that he’d be willing to take a hometown discount to remain in the Windy City. He was originally selected by the ‘Hawks at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and has spent all six of his professional seasons with the team.

According to LeBrun, Bickell will receive a $1 million bonus plus $2 million in salary for next season, then $4 million in 2014-15, then $4.5 million in each of last two years of the deal.

Should be noted that Chicago shed approximately $5.7 million in salary today with the Bolland and Frolik deals.

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

Patrick Kane
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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

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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.