First off, I hope everyone had a nice Chicago weekend. As you’ve likely inferred from the absence of recent posts, John and I had separately glorious weekends.
Though we find ourselves squarely within the boring NHL month of July – unless you count prospect camps and suicide threats stemming from the Blackhawk salary cap situation – there have been a couple recent news stories worthy of review. Let’s have at them…
– Dale Tallon is apparently taking the heat for John McDonough’s mailing mistake, according to “Chicago insiders.” It’s still hard to imagine what the team’s president had to do with the mailing of what are perfunctory offers, but I’m no “Chicago insider.” And, Tallon’s no mailman, as he admitted last week.
– Speaking of, most of the scuttlebutt surrounding the failed mailings includes the charge that the Blackhawk restricted free agents did not receive their qualifying offers in time. (In fact, look no further than the Boston Globe piece linked above, which incinuates the late receipt of the offers by the players was the underlying problem in the fiasco.) The fact is, however, that the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “CBA”) fails to state when notices mailed pursuant to the CBA are effective, as most large contracts typically do.
For example, many formal contracts will have language similar to the following: “All notices and other communications hereunder shall be in writing and shall be deemed duly given (a) on the date of delivery if delivered personally, or by facsimile, upon confirmation of receipt or (b) on the first business day following the date of dispatch if delivered by a recognized next-day courier service.”
As no such language appears within the CBA, it’s likely – in my opinion – an arbitrator would have considered the notices “duly given” on the day mailed, so as not to write more restrictive language into the CBA where none existed before. Alas, as everyone and their brother has previously reported, the Hawks were late to mail and/or failed to send the offers via overnight mail to the players as is required under the CBA, so this practice in contract construction would not have been relevant.
– Yet another take on the salary cap effects of the Hawks’ recent mailing blunders; this one states the Hawks “will not have enough space to remain in tact while accommodating Kane, Toews and Keith (next summer).” And, while I don’t disagree with this statement, it’s unlikely the $1 million per year the Hawks arguably overpaid to retain Kris Versteeg – Barker certainly got nothing exceeding market value, in my opinion – has thrown off management’s plans for personnel in future years. The reality, given the handful of breakout performances last season and the timing of certain contract expirations, is that this group was doomed for break-up since the beginning of the offseason independent of any mailing snafus.
– Morever, from this seat, it appears the Hawks’ third and fourth lines are essentially set with Madden, Kopecky, Ladd, Brouwer, Eager and Burish with Fraser hanging on as filler. That leaves seven forwards for the top two lines: Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Bolland, Byfuglien and Versteeg. Point is: with or without qualifying offer difficulties, there’s no room at the inn for all 14 NHL forwards currently on the roster – not to mention possible spots for Kyle Beach or Akim Aliu. Sharp, Byfuglien and Versteeg are the three that may not belong.