It’s a winner-take-all scenario to decide the Western Conference.
The Chicago Blackhawks host the L.A. Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, after the Blackhawks pushed the series to its ultimate conclusion with a win in Game 6 on Friday. It’s also the ultimate conclusion to a very entertaining series that has seen Chicago come back from a three-games-to-one deficit.
“I’m excited we’re home. I’m really excited we’re playing Game 7. It’s a good opportunity,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. “We got momentum, so let’s go. It’s one game, but there’s a lot at stake. I’m sure the guys are going to have a lot of fun with it.”
Regardless of which team has momentum or which doesn’t, it’s still a battle between two teams that have clearly set the standard in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks could earn their third Stanley Cup Final berth in the last five years. The Kings went to the final and won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
The Blackhawks and Kings have combined to win three of the last four Stanley Cup championships. The New York Rangers, champs in the Eastern Conference, await the winner.
“I think this series deserves a Game 7,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson told the Chicago Tribune. “I think that the crowd deserves it too. I think it’s going to be a great finish to a great series. Hopefully we’ll be the winner.”
Of course, the Kings will likely have something to say about that.
In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.
The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.
At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.
As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.
The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.
All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.
The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”
The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.
The NHLPA released a similar statement.
It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.
We’re starting to find out some details now:
How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?