Joe Yerdon

Hossa stays: Blackhawks to buy out Montador and Olesz

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Chicago GM Stan Bowman announced the team would be using both of their compliance buyouts this summer on defenseman Steve Montador and forward Rostislav Olesz.

Montador had two years remaining on his four-year deal with a $2.75 million cap hit. Olesz had just one season left on his six-year deal with a $3.125 million cap hit. Neither player was a factor in winning the Stanley Cup for the ‘Hawks this season. Montador dealt with concussion issues most of the season before being sent to Rockford in the AHL.

There was talk before the end of the Stanley Cup Final that perhaps Marian Hossa would be someone the team would buy out. With the fear of the cap recapture penalty looming if he retired before the end of his deal out there, some speculated it would be easier for Chicago to buy him out and move on.

That won’t be happening now and the Blackhawks will be hoping to see Hossa going strong into the 2020-2021 season when his 12-year deal expires. He’ll be 42 years-old when that happens.

Yzerman not planning to use second buyout this summer

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After the Lightning announced they were buying out captain Vincent Lecavalier this morning, the next question was if there’d be someone else headed out the door with a fat paycheck in hand.

GM Steve Yzerman says that’s not in the cards right now.

Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times finds out from Yzerman that there’s nothing cooking for another buyout this summer.

“We’ll see what happens next year but for this year there’s no plan,” he said.

What that means is forward Ryan Malone can breathe a little easier.

With Lecavalier out the door, that could mean just about anyone would be eligible to be bought out and Malone was a prime target with two years and $5 million left on his contract. Malone’s biggest issue, however, is his $4.5 million cap hit. If Mattias Ohlund were healthy, he too would likely be a candidate as well.

Agent Don Baizley dies of lung cancer at age 71

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Influential player agent Don Baizley has passed away.

The long-time agent of players like Teemu Selanne and Peter Forsberg succumbed to non-smoker’s lung cancer and leaves behind a powerful legacy as an agent in hockey.

As The Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno notes, Baizley was an influential figure in helping end the 2004-2005 NHL lockout and his client list is extensive after 30 years of work. Selanne, Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Saku Koivu, and Jari Kurri among them. As a native of Winnipeg, he was also a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

Agent Allan Walsh commented on Baizley’s passing via Twitter.

For a handful of veterans, this Stanley Cup was a long time coming

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Some players will go their whole careers without winning a Stanley Cup. For a handful of Chicago Blackhawks, their ship finally came in.

Veterans like Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival have been playing since the late 1990s without a whiff of the championship. Coming away victorious in Game 6 provided them with a moment they’ll never forget.

“This is the happiest moment of my hockey career,” Rozsival said. “Coming over from the Czech Republic and playing for 15 years here in the NHL and having some ups and downs in my career. To be able to be here right now is an amazing feeling.”

Handzus played for Chicago back in 2006-2007 before things turned around in the Windy City. His return trip turned out to be magical.

“(Laughs) It was a long time ago. It was a different organization for sure,” he said. “Obviously they’ve been great the last five, six years and it shows a great city, a great organization top to bottom.”

For backup goalie Ray Emery, he’s had shots at the Cup with Ottawa in 2007 and Philadelphia in 2010. Now, as part of a Jennings Trophy tandem in Chicago, he’s happy to finally come away with a title in his ninth season.

“I lost in Ottawa, I lost in Philly, and then the third time around I got to enjoy the run too because I was on the outside and supportive. It was a great thing to watch,” he said.

“Every year is its own challenge and this year was a great, great year and a great result at the end.”

If you wonder what it’s like to play for so long and just wind up in the right place at the right time, Handzus was able to sum it up best.

“Sometimes you wonder (if you’ll win it), but you gotta believe,” he said. “Obviously you gotta be lucky and you gotta be in the right spot and I did. I’m thankful to God that I was here.”

 

Wild kicking tires on Penguins’ Fleury with Bernier dealt

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Now that Jonathan Bernier is off the market, one of the teams that was in hot pursuit of him could turn their attention to another French-Canadian stopper.

Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports the Minnesota Wild have inquired with the Pittsburgh Penguins about their maligned goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wild were one of three teams believed to be in the final race for Bernier, but now that he’s off to Toronto the Wild and GM Chuck Fletcher have to look elsewhere.

Minnesota could just re-sign their own unrestricted free agent in Niklas Backstrom and stop their search, but their pursuit of Bernier indicates they’re headed in a different direction in goal. With the money the team has invested in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, skimping on goaltending would seem like a bad idea.