October 27 — Blown Bargains & Considering Chicago

On Tap For Today — Boston at Florida; 7:00 pm EDT; NHLN, TVAS, BSFL, NESN | Detroit at Washington; 7:00 pm EDT; NBCSWA+, BSDET | Toronto at Chicago; 6:30 pm CDT; SN1, NBCSCH | Vegas at Dallas; 7:30 pm CDT; BSSW, ATTSN-RM | Philadelphia at Edmonton; 8:00 pm MDT; TNT, SN360, SN1, TVAS

Last Night’s News 📰

BOWMAN OUT: Stan Bowman is out as President of Hockey Operations and GM of the Chicago Blackhawks after an independent investigation revealed that team management failed to properly respond to a former player’s allegations of sexual assault by then-video coach Bradley Aldrich. Chicago was also fined $2 million by the NHL based on the report’s disturbing findings.

ADD ILLNESS TO INJURY: To make matters worse for the Blackhawks, captain Jonathan Toews was added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol by Chicago on Tuesday. Toews is the fifth player to be added to the list, joining three coaches to bring the total number of Blackhawks in the protocol to eight.

SHROOMING WITH MESS: Mark Messier shared an exert from his memoir in which he recalls an offseason trip to Barbados with friends. During the trip, the group drank mushroom tea, altering Messier’s perception and teaching him that “the mind is a muscle, and you have to train it—like you do all the other muscles—in pursuit of excellence.”

HOME KRAKEN: Seattle fan favorite Brandon Tanev scored twice, while Yanni Gourde added a goal and an assist as the Kraken secured their first home victory in franchise history.

Pro vs Con: Examining the Chicago Blackhawks GM Opening

An independent investigation into the cover-up of sexual assault allegations against former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich has concluded, leaving an organizational reckoning in its wake. GM Stan Bowman and other long-tenured senior management are out, with the fates of involved parties, like Joel Quenneville and Kevin Cheveldayoff, still to be determined.

Former Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

This whole situation is, of course, about far more than just hockey. However, we are a hockey newsletter, and among the many things to unpack as this story continues to evolve is a looming question: is the now-vacant general manager position in Chicago even a desirable one? Let’s examine some pros and cons concerning the role as it exists right now:

Pro: Cup Legacy

Dating back to 2010, the same year that served as the focus of the sexual assault investigation, there is only one NHL team that has won three Stanley Cups in that time period. That would be the Blackhawks, who established a winning (albeit, likely tarnished) legacy—on the ice, anyway—on the backs of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Con: Front Office Distrust

Findings from the thorough investigation identified key parties who allegedly were aware of what had taken place and failed to react promptly. Such a widespread, systematic failure raises important questions about what other secrets lurk within the front office and whether other Blackhawks personnel can be trusted.

Pro: Star Power

Whoever takes the job won’t lack in on-ice talent. Current COVID woes aside, there are worse rosters to manage than one that features Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and newcomers Seth Jones and Marc-André Fleury.

Con: Are We Sure They’re Good?

All that talent hasn’t prevented a dreadful 0-5-1 start amidst trying circumstances that aren’t getting any easier. Fleury is 37 and a pending free agent, while Toews and Kane are 33 and 32, respectively, and set to earn UFA status after next season. Jones, currently sporting a near-league worst plus/minus of minus-9, hasn’t even started a contract that will pay him $76 million over the next eight years.

Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Pro: Franchise Stature

For as damaging as the Aldrich scandal is for the franchise, these are still the Blackhawks. They remain a foundational component of the Original Six and play their home games in one of the country’s biggest markets at the historic United Center.

Con: Recent Woes

Chicago’s last Cup victory came in 2015. Since then, they haven’t won a playoff series and have now missed the postseason entirely in four of the past five seasons. Given the current outlook of the club, it’s hard to see its fortunes turning around in the near future.

By the Numbers: Shea Weber

It has been rumored for quite some time that Shea Weber played his final game in the NHL. These unofficial reports gained more attention when Jonathan Drouin spoke to the media on Tuesday, speculating that Weber is already retired. As fans wait for the official announcement from Weber himself, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and look back at his career by the numbers.

Has Shea Weber retired from the Montreal Canadiens? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

108.5: In 2015, Shea Weber won the hardest slapshot competition at the NHL All-Star Game with a 108.5 MPH shot, missing the overall record by 0.3 MPH. Weber still holds the record for the second hardest shot after Zdeno Chara hit 108.8 MPH in 2012. During the 2010 Olympics, Weber’s shot actually went through the net. How many players have done that?

3.3 million: The number of dollars that has been raised for the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which was started by Weber and then-Nashville Predators teammate Pekka Rinne. They started the fund to raise money and awareness for cancer research that takes place at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

1,038: The number of NHL games that Weber has played in. He spent 11 seasons with the Nashville Predators and five with the Montreal Canadiens. He made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, 2006, against the Detroit Red Wings and has been a prominent force on the blue line ever since.

80: Weber hasn’t played for the Predators since 2016, but he still holds the record for most power-play goals in franchise history. During his tenure in Music City, he registered 80 goals on the man advantage. His record looks to be safe as the second player on the list is Filip Forsberg with 48.

5: The number of gold medals in his trophy case as a member of Team Canada. Weber won two Olympic golds in 2010 and 2014, and in 2016, he was part of the winning World Cup team. He also won gold at the World Championships in 2007, while his first gold medal came in 2005 during the World Junior Championships.

They Paid Him What?!

The New York Islanders signed Ross Johnston to a four-year contract extension worth an average annual value (AAV) of $1.1 million per season. Considering that he has only played 62 games in the past four years, it was surprising to see this extension signed. Another interesting fact is that Johnston signed a previous four-year deal with the Islanders in 2017, making it eight total years of job security for the enforcer.

Most hockey fans are aware of the worst long-term deals that their favorite teams have signed, but let’s take it a step further. These are the worst contracts given out to definitive bottom-six players in the NHL, and there are countless other examples.

Jay Beagle – $12 Million Over Four Years (2018)

Jay Beagle with the Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

During free agency in 2018, Beagle had just come off a Stanley Cup championship with the Washington Capitals, and he decided to test his talents on the open market. The Vancouver Canucks, notorious for signing depth players for longer than they should, felt that Beagle could stabilize their fourth line. To ensure he would sign with them, Vancouver offered Beagle a contract for four years with a $3 million AAV, a length and dollar amount no other team was willing to pay.

Erik Gudbranson – $1.95 Million For One Year (2021)

Erik Gudbranson formerly of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

This contract won’t destroy the Calgary Flames, but it wasn’t necessary to sign, considering how late into the offseason it was completed. On Sept. 10, the Flames signed Gudbranson to play on their third pair with Juuso Välimäki, usually during a period when professional tryouts are being offered in lieu of contracts. Instead, Calgary decided to overpay for a below-replacement level player, who will likely not be a factor if the team wants to make a playoff push.

Danny DeKeyser – $30 Million Over Six Years (2016)

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Detriot Red Wings had yet to realize that their glory days were over and overpaid several of their depth contributors during this time in the Ken Holland era. While the DeKeyser signing was confusing at the time, and still is now, the argument was that he was a low-end top-four defenseman. Fast forward to this season and DeKeyser is playing next to rookie Moritz Seider, but he is not the one doing the heavy lifting on that top pairing.