Gail Kauchak The Hockey Writers
Blackhawks’ News & Rumors: Crawford, Wirtz, Kubalik, Shaw
The Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated from the 2020 postseason this past Tuesday, as they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 and 4-1 in the series. The good news is no one expected them to get as far as they did, and they got some meaningful playoff games under their belt. They should be able to use this as a steppingstone moving forward. But while the season is officially over, we all still want to hear news and rumors about our favorite team. We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the latest tidbits.
Will Crawford Stay or Go?
We all know by now that goaltender Corey Crawford overcame insurmountable circumstances once again to help the Blackhawks in their short postseason run. Yes, he struggled to get back to form after fighting COVID-19. But his 48-save performance in Game 4 against the Golden Knights arguably kept the Blackhawks from getting swept in the series.
Crawford is now an unrestricted free agent. There isn’t really another goaltender in the pipeline ready to take over in net next season. So presumably the Blackhawks will want to re-sign their star netminder, who’s played 10 seasons and won two Stanley Cups with the franchise.
But it’s never that easy. A flat salary cap due to the pandemic makes money tight. It will be tough to pay Crawford the $6 million he made this season, especially with other free agents to sign.
On the other hand, Crawford has made it clear he wants to be the starter and not placed in a backup role. There aren’t a lot of places besides Chicago where Crawford would have that luxury. Obviously, this could be to the Blackhawks’ advantage.
It’s this writer’s humble opinion, the Blackhawks and Crawford will find a way to make this work. Crawford has been with Chicago his entire career; I believe he wants to finish his career with them as well. He will give the Blackhawks a discount in order be the go-to guy this coming season.
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Crow will stay. And as long as he can remain healthy, he will continue to be a valuable component to the Blackhawks’ success.
Danny Wirtz Only Temporary
In organizational news, Blackhawks’ chairman Rocky Wirtz spoke on 670 The Score this past week. Since Wirtz fired John McDonough in late April, his son Danny Wirtz has been given the interim president role. While there were no updates, many believed the younger Wirtz might take on this role permanently. But Rocky finally put those thoughts to rest. Here’s what he had to say:
I don’t see him permanently being in that position. Only because he’s involved in all the other (family) businesses, and I would hate to see him not contribute to other business and just be with the Hawks… I thought it would be good to put him in there in the interim role and put him in charge. Let’s give him the support he needs. Let’s get him out and around that organization, set up a set of values of what we want for this next president and then let him head up the search.
So this will be a learning experience for Danny Wirtz to get to know the Blackhawks’ side of the family business. Rocky further noted the search for the new president will begin in earnest now that the season is over.
Something to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Happy Birthday Kubalik
Blackhawks’ rookie Dominik Kubalik turns 25 years old today! Yes, he’s a little old for a rookie. The left winger was drafted by the LA Kings in 2013, and then spent many years playing in Europe. He signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks in May of 2019.
Kubalik is one of the biggest positives to come out of this season. The Blackhawks have had a lot of luck with their European signings, but none more so than Kubalik. He tallied 30 goals in his first season, which was second on the team only to superstar Patrick Kane (33 goals). Kubalik’s 46 points was good for third on the team behind Kane and Jonathan Toews. Not bad company, hey?
League wide, he led all rookies in goals, and all rookie forwards in points. He further topped other first-year players in even-strength points (38), even-strength goals (26), and even-strength shots on goal (157). It’s easy to see why he was named a Calder Trophy finalist.
Kubalik brought his talents to the postseason as well. In nine games played he tallied eight points (four goals and four assists), second only once again to Kane and Toews (both with nine points).
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The Czech native is now a restricted free agent. Like Crawford, it’s on top of the Blackhawks’ priority list to get him re-signed. He will be looking for a much earned pay raise, but considering his success it should be worth some sacrifice to make it happen.
Blackhawks’ fans are eager to see how this all plays out. In the meantime, happy birthday Kuby!
The Shaw Show
Let’s end with something fun and cute, shall we? Gritty winger Andrew Shaw has won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and played on the team for six seasons. He spent three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, but returned to his beloved Blackhawks for the 2019-20 campaign.
Unfortunately, Shaw has been plagued with concussions his entire career. He sustained yet another head injury this past October and has been recovering ever since. But he issued a statement in mid-July saying he plans on returning for the 2020-21 season.
If you happen to follow Shaw on Instagram or Twitter, you know he’s a committed family man. He recently posted a video of him and his two-year-old daughter Andy cheering the Blackhawks on!
??LET'S GOOOO??— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 13, 2020
Thank you @shawz15er and Andy for getting us game ready! #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/E311CmZlpL
What better way to combine a love for hockey and family! Here’s hoping Shaw is truly doing well and on the road to a full recovery.
Keep it right here at The Hockey Writers for all your Blackhawks’ news and rumors. The season might be over, but there’s never a dull moment when it comes to updates on your favorite team.
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