After a solid rookie campaign, Ben Chiarot has re-upped in Winnipeg.
On Thursday, Chiarot agreed to a two-year, $1.7 million extension with the Jets, the club announced. The deal carries an average annual cap hit of $850K, up from the $600K he made annually on his last contract.
The 24-year-old scored eight points in 40 games this year, missing a fairly significant chunk of time to a broken hand. Recalled in December with the Jets facing a rash of injuries on defense, Chiarot impressed enough to become a regular in the rotation, averaging over 17 minutes a night while playing in a pair of playoff games during Winnipeg’s opening-round sweep at the hands of Anaheim.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Chiarot’s extension means Winnipeg’s blueline will continue to boast a physical presence, as he’s locked in alongside Dustin Byfuglien (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), Tyler Myers (6-8, 219). Jacob Trouba (6-2, 200) and Mark Stuart (6-2, 213).
With three Stanley Cups in six years, let the ‘dynasty’ debate begin
CHICAGO — It’s hard to believe now, but in 2007, when John McDonough was named president of the Blackhawks, the franchise had devolved into an afterthought in the Windy City.
Monday at the United Center, right before Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup for the third time in the last six years, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman proclaimed to the fans, “I’d say you have a dynasty.”
Funny what assembling a core of four future Hall of Famers — Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Marian Hossa — can do for a franchise’s fortunes.
Add secondary stars like Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, get a good coach, a smart general manager, draft well, develop well, throw in a little luck, and the result is the first team worthy of the “dynasty” label in the salary-cap era.
“We’ve had to fight through some things, but it was worth every second of it,” said McDonough, speaking to reporters at center ice while the players and their young families celebrated around him.
“To see these guys mature into young adults, into grown men. Most of our guys when I started here were single. Now there’s babies all over the place.”
There will be those who question whether these Blackhawks are truly a dynasty. They haven’t won four straight Cups, like the Montreal Canadiens did from 1975-79, or the New York Islanders from 1980-83. They haven’t won five in seven years like the 1980s Oilers. Twice in the past six years Chicago has been eliminated in the first round.
When asked to weigh in on the dynasty debate, Kane replied, “I don’t know what that means. We’ve got three in six years. I know that’s pretty good.”
Similarly, general manager Stan Bowman deferred to others.
“I don’t think that’s really for me to say,” he said. “That’s really for other people to make those proclamations. All I know is that we’ve got an amazing group here, they’ve accomplished a lot together, and I’m really proud of the effort they’ve given year after year. It doesn’t always go your way, but they’ve accomplished quite a bit and we’re not finished.”
Bowman has another tough summer ahead. The Blackhawks won’t be back in their entirety next season. Some will be forced out due to the salary cap. That’s the “reality” of the situation, as Johnny Oduya put it. That reality is why the likes of Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, and Antti Niemi are playing elsewhere now.
“I think we’re going to enjoy this one for a bit,” said Bowman. “I’ve been thinking of that stuff for a long time. It’s not like it’s going to surprise me. We’ll make it work. We’ve got a plan in place. That’s really for another day. Right now we’re pretty thrilled with this whole scene in here.”
A decade ago, the Blackhawks were playing games before a half-empty arena, an Original Six franchise ignored.
Monday, they kicked off one of the great sports celebrations in this city’s history.
They deserve to enjoy it.
A holdover from the ‘dark days,’ does Sharp have a future in Chicago?
TAMPA — The Blackhawks faced plenty of “dynasty” questions on Tuesday, roughly 24 hours prior to making their third Stanley Cup Final appearance in six seasons.
But for Patrick Sharp, the term isn’t in his lexicon.
“I don’t really use that word,” Sharp said during Stanley Cup Media Day. “I just know I’ve been on a good team for a long time. Going back 10 years, Duncs [Duncan Keith], Seabs [Brent Seabrook] and I got started in Chicago, and we’re kind of the last remaining ones from those dark days.”
Sharp, 33, has spent a decade in the Windy City, which predates the arrivals of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Chelsea Dagger and Cup Parades. He’s been around long enough to remember the ‘Hawks not making the playoffs — like when they won just 26 games in 2005-06 under since-forgotten coach Trent Yawney — and when the United Center was more mausoleum than madhouse.
Because of that history, Sharp is more equipped to speak about the Blackhawks’ renaissance than just about anyone. But it’s also sort of telling he’s being asked dynasties and memories now, as both he and his team face an offseason loaded with uncertainty.
Minutes prior to Sharp taking the podium on Tuesday, ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman was at a different dais, fielding far different questions — ones about the salary cap, and the uncertain future facing his team.
“It’s a challenge,” Bowman explained. “The salary cap, that’s a system we all play under and we’ve been through it before. There’s changes to be made to every team and we’re no different.
“We certainly have expectations that we want to keep this going. The main players are going to be back..”
Which begs the question — is Sharp a main player?
Next year, Toews and Kane will have cap hits of $10 million each. Brandon Saad needs a new deal this summer, and Brent Seabrook the year following. Those financial obligations have led many to speculate that Sharp, who has two years left on his deal at $5.9M per, will be traded this summer as a cap-relief move — not unlike, as Bowman alluded to, the ‘Hawks previously being forced to deal away the likes of Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien due to salary restraints.
As such, it was not surprising on Tuesday to hear Sharp speak about his entire career with the ‘Hawks — not just the recent championships, that have led to dynasty discussions.
“It became just such a fun ride to be a part of,” he explained. “I don’t look at the past six years and say we’ve been to three Cup Finals — I look at the whole ride in general, and consider myself very lucky to be a part of it.”
Trouba undergoes successful hand surgery, will be ready for Jets camp
The Winnipeg Jets got good news on one of their numerous injured players on Friday, as the club announced d-man Jacob Trouba underwent successful surgery on his broken right hand, and would be ready for training camp this fall.
Trouba, who broke his hand in Game 2 of the Ducks series, will be out the next 6-8 weeks while recovering.
The busted hand was a rough ending to an otherwise successful campaign for the 21-year-old sophomore. Trouba scored 22 points in 65 games while averaging over 23 minutes a night, helping the Jets advance to the postseason for the first time since moving from Atlanta.
As for the other ailing Jets, d-men Tobias Enstrom and Adam Pardy both underwent shoulder surgeries while Captain Andrew Ladd was playing with a sports hernia, Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien had dislocated ribs and Mathieu Perreault had an ankle sprain and tore ligaments in his right hand during the Ducks series.
More Jets injuries revealed as Enstrom, Pardy undergo shoulder surgery
After getting eliminated by Anaheim, Jets head coach Paul Maurice said as many as eight of his players were dealing with “significant injuries” and on Tuesday, we found out two of ’em.
Defensemen Adam Pardy and Tobias Enstrom have both undergone successful shoulder surgery, per the club. Both will rehab throughout the summer and are expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp.
Prior to the Pardy and Enstrom news, it was learned defenseman Jacob Trouba suffered a broken hand late in the regular season, which will also require surgery and sideline him for 6-8 weeks. Captain Andrew Ladd was playing with a sports hernia, Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien had dislocated ribs and Mathieu Perreault had an ankle sprain and tore ligaments in his right hand during the Ducks series.