As convention opens, Hawks know they must move at least one player
BY MARK LAZERUS July 18, 2014 9:14PM
Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp lines up against the Los Angeles Kings during Game 6 of the Western Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Los Angeles, Friday, May 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) ORG XMIT: otkcc126
Updated: August 20, 2014 6:15AM
The speculation over which player (or players) would get traded this summer to get the Blackhawks under the $69 million salary cap reached a fever pitch at the NHL draft late last month. Every time general manager Stan Bowman picked up the phone or stood from his chair on the floor at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, everyone watching held their breath for just a moment.
Well, get used to that uncertainty. It might last awhile.
“We certainly have to be ready to go by October,” Bowman said Friday as the Hawks opened their fan convention at the Hilton Chicago. “A lot of things change between now and then. You have to display some patience.”
The Hawks are $1.3 million or $2.2 million over the salary cap, depending on whether Teuvo Teravainen makes the team out of training camp. Regardless, they have to move at least one player before the season opens. And while trades always pick up around draft time, Bowman said talks stir again every September.
“Everyone likes their team right now,” Bowman said. “But once training camp rolls around and you start playing some exhibition games, [sometimes] you realize maybe that the way you drew it up in June and July isn’t playing out the way you hoped. I’m not saying we’re waiting until training camp, but that is another time period when things do change more often.”
Patrick Sharp was at the center of much of the trade speculation, particularly around the draft. It got to the point where his agent, Rick Curran, went on the record to say that Bowman had assured him that Sharp wasn’t going to be traded, and that Sharp was bothered by the chatter. But Bowman declined to say as much publicly, fueling the rumors even more. Sharp is coming off his best season — 34 goals and 44 assists — but carries a $5.9 million cap hit each of the next three seasons.
Sharp, speaking Friday for the first time since the Hawks cleaned out their lockers, shrugged it all off.
“There’s going to be talk, discussion, rumors,” Sharp said. “It’s part of the business. But I think what my agent said was pretty self-explanatory.”
Johnny Oduya is another possible trade chip for Bowman. Oduya has one year left on his contract, worth $3.375 million. He’s hoping to stay, as well.
“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but you know the reality of the business,” he said. “And I’ve been around it for a couple of these situations. There’s not much you can do but realize the situation and prepare for the season the same way.”
Added Bryan Bickell: “There’s a couple of adjustments that need to take place to get through this cap thing, but I’m not hearing anything, which is good. Hopefully, it will work out for the best.”
Beyond this summer, the Hawks have to make the combined $21 million cap hit of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane fit under the cap starting in 2015-16. Kane pointed out Wednesday that the Hawks lost nearly half their roster because of cap problems after the 2010 Stanley Cup but managed to win another one in 2013.
The belief around the Hawks is that this time around, it won’t be nearly as painful. Even if the wait can be.
“We remember what it was like in 2009-10,” Sharp said. “If you start worrying about it and start paying attention to all the speculation and rumors, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. It’s my job to play hockey, and that’s what I’m going to do.”