(Photo: NHL Youtube)
The Blackhawks had to get creative before trade deadline Monday, working within a tight budget to fulfill needs for a playoff run in a competitive Central Division and Western Conference.
Patrick Kane‘s clavicle injury Feb. 24, with an estimated 12-week recovery, left a need for serious offensive power. Defense has been another recent concern. So, they picked up two forwards and a defenseman–all with expiring contracts.
So, the Blackhawks picked up forward Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Klas Dahlbeck, who has seen time with the Hawks and the Rockford IceHogs, and a first round pick. Vermette, 32, had 35 points in 63 games for the Coyotes this season. Vermette is a veteran forward whose contract expires at the end of the season. Dahlbeck had one goal in four games with the Hawks and 11 points in 48 IceHogs games this year.
“Truly, it’s an exciting moment,” Vermette told media in a teleconference Sunday. “You know, I’m going to face some good hockey coming up and [I can] get excited about looking at the standings again and looking at what’s going on. I’m not going to lie. The standings part, where I was, I wasn’t looking too much at lately.”
He debuted Monday in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
In 156 games with Chicago, Smith had 39 points and four penalty minutes–with five goals and four assists in 61 games this season. Desjardins had five goals and three assists in 56 games with the Sharks this year. In his 272 career games with San Jose, he had 48 points and a whopping 248 penalty minutes.
He’ll likely play as a fourth-liner/checker for the Hawks, a role he’s comfortable with according to media interviews Monday.
“I definitely want to play my style which is be that intense, in your face, gritty kind of guy,” Desjardins said. “That’s what I’m going to try to bring.”
Kimmo Timonen, who turns 40 this month, is a highly-decorated player on a final quest for the Stanley Cup before retirement. With five Winter Olympic appearances, four All-Star appearances, and nine trips to the playoffs, Timonen wants to contribute to the Blackhawks’ quest for the Cup.
He missed all of this season with the Flyers due to blood clots in his lung and leg diagnosed last August. His scheduled return ended up being with Chicago, instead. He debuted against the Hurricanes Monday.
Timonen also happened to be on the ice for this moment:
After coming that close, he plans to give his all to a team pushing for the prize.
“Obviously, this last summer when I got sick, I was back in Finland in a hospital bed, and they said you have to wait six months to see what’s going to happen,” Timonen told media Friday. “Obviously, I was asking a lot of questions about my career and can I still return playing hockey. They said, ‘Well, you have to eat this medicine for six months, then you have a small chance to get back on the ice.’
“So in that moment, I decided if that small chance happens the only thing I’m missing from my hockey career is a Stanley Cup. That was the only goal which I would return to hockey. It wasn’t money. It wasn’t anything else that was missing.”
Trades that Didn’t Happen
The rumor mill tried to sell Patrick Sharp as a potential trade, claiming he was a source of drama that led to the team’s recent slump and an alleged locker room brawl. Despite teams like the Washington Capitals showing interest, Sharp’s agent and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman denied he was on the trade block.
VP/GM Stan Bowman says the #Blackhawks were never shopping Patrick Sharp. “He’s a big part of the fabric of the team.”
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 2, 2015
But that didn’t stop rumors from growing. Without sharing any proof or asking the team or parties involved, blogs and sports personalities, reported Sharp, who is married with two young daughters, had affairs with teammates’ wives and girlfriends, local media personalities, and several others.
His team was quick to go on record to defend him, however.
Brent Seabrook approached reporters to discuss the situation earlier this week.
“Some of the rumors that have been said are laughable. There’s nothing going on with this locker room,” he said. “I’ve been here 10 years and nothing’s going on. We’re a tight group, we have everybody’s back here and we’re focused on our job, which is getting to the playoffs and winning another championship.”
Duncan Keith echoed the sentiment, only it was more personal for him–as his family was part of the gossip:
“It would be comical or laughable if it wasn’t you or your family involved. It becomes (where) you drag other people into it. We’ve got a close group here. We’ve played with one another for a long time. All these rumors and stuff is just a bunch B.S. to us players. We’re out here playing hockey, and we love our teammates. Whatever gets said outside of our locker room shouldn’t really matter. But when it gets to be something ridiculous like that, it needs to be addressed.”
Sharp told media the situation is taking a toll on him.
“As a player, as a professional, you’re out there and you’re up for grabs for on-ice play. Trade rumors, talk about my play on the ice, I’m fine with that,” he told media. “When people delve into your personal life and make up rumors and things that are untrue, it takes a toll on you, your family and friends. It’s completely unnecessary. It’s been tough but we have a strong group of teammates. It’s almost laughable.”
Sharp said he is exploring options for legal action, especially after fielding calls from his extended family and in-laws as the rumors spread.
“Anyone can type something on a computer and get away with it and not be held responsible or accountable,” he said. “It’s laughable but when it affects your family, when you have two little girls at home and your parents are calling you, it takes a toll.”
This season, Sharp has 10 goals and 22 assists in 50 games. He was out Nov. 4 to Dec. 2, 2014 after suffering a knee injury in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. Last year, he had 34 goals and 44 assists in 82 games.
- Defenseman Johnny Oduya skated on Wednesday, but remains out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.
- Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella fracture) is expected to play with the IceHogs this weekend.
- Desjardins will likely debut with the Hawks tonight against the Edmonton Oilers in place of Teuvo Teravainen.
“To play in this building is just amazing,” he said. “Being on the opposition you just always admire this building. It seems like it’s the hardest building to play in, so it’s good to be on this side.”
Corey Crawford is expected to start in net for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. CT game.
- Next, the Blackhawks host the New York Rangers at 6:30 p.m. CT Sunday.