A final word on Antti Niemi.

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The other day, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman decided to let go of Antti Niemi in favor of 35 year old Marty Turco to be the new goaltender. I have to say that this is utter bullshit. The Blackhawks had the money to resign Niemi. The difference was $1 million between contracts. That is not a lot in sports.

I understand fully the problems of the salary cap but there was enough cash to sign him. I don’t think it makes sense to let go of a goaltender who just helped his team win their first Stanley Cup in nearly a half of a century for a goaltender who is pretty good but also is ten years older. I won’t sit here and say that Niemi is the best goaltender out there because he clearly wasn’t. However, he did the job and he was a big reason why the Blackhawks won the Stanely Cup.

So as always, we will find out during and after next season what the right choice was.

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12 Responses to “A final word on Antti Niemi.”

  1. Yeti Says:

    For sports, yes. However, that million is around 1.5-2% of the cap. And when you’re pinching pennies to make sure you can field a very good team, that “small” percentage is significant. Niemi did a great job and I don’t think there are many that are happy to see him go, but I think the Hawks will be fine.

  2. Gil Says:

    “I understand fully the problems of the salary cap but there was enough cash to sign him.”

    See, the problem with this sentence is that you don’t.

  3. genrebuster Says:

    Gil, when you have the time please explain…I admit that I don’t fully understand the problems of the salary cap.

  4. Gil Says:

    The first thing to note is that the NHL’s salary cap is a hard cap. This means, as opposed to the NFL’s or the NBA’s, you cannot exceed the limit. The penalties are severe. Now, looking at the Hawks’ scenario, signing Niemi to the 2.75 MM would have forced the Hawks to fill two remaining roster spots for about a million dollars. In other words, impossible without moving another position player. Moreover, it would have also put the Hawks’ front office on pins and needles hoping that another player on the roster didn’t get injured during the course of the regular season (the injured player’s salary doesn’t come off the books unless the team puts him on LTIR and then the team would have to call someone up from Rockford, thus adding more to the payroll).

    All of this makes the Turco deal look so much better. Not only is the team saving about 1.2 to 1.5 MM, but now have a little more wiggle room to add players to this team.

    In sum, I think Bowman did an exceptional job given the fact that Toews selfishly won the Conn Smythe (adding a $4 MM bonus hit) and Tallon had to overpay (excluding the Huet signing) to get people to consider Chicago.

    All of this glosses over the fact that Turco is probably a better goalie than Niemi (who didn’t even start half of the regular season games and was beginning to break down by the end of the Finals) and should have a better season behind this defensive corps.

  5. genrebuster Says:

    Gil, Thank You for the explanation.

    Now, if you can help me understand — and accept — how Jim Hendry keeps his job, I will be forever indebted to you! 😉

  6. Gil Says:

    Yeah, that I can’t answer.

    I’d much rather see Hendry step in front of a train sometime soon.

  7. Fro Dog Says:

    Gil,

    I do understand the salary cap. And according to the folks over at hockeenight.com, they used some website that crunches all the numbers together and it ended up that there was enough cash as I mentioned to resign him.

  8. ksmc2000 Says:

    I heard that Huet might be headed over seas to play hockey. I don’t know how this would effect the cap, but it could be a door to allow Niemi to come back.

  9. Fro Dog Says:

    Keith,

    It won’t happen. The Blackhawks have Marty Turco, Cristobal Huet, Hanu Toivonen and Corey Crawford on the roster. Crawford has been in Rockford for a few years and was actually suppose to be the next in line until Niemi stepped up last year. But even if Huet gets traded, no other goalies will be signed.

  10. Gil Says:

    Huet will play either in Europe or in Rockford. As per your response, I believe that signing Niemi would have left the Hawks with about 97k in cap room.

    That is far too low to have going into the season.

  11. Thrillho Says:

    “Huet will play either in Europe or in Rockford. As per your response, I believe that signing Niemi would have left the Hawks with about 97k in cap room.”

    Had the Hawks signed Niemi at $2.75MM, absent any other moves, they’d have been left with $1.06MM in cap space with only 19 players signed, one less than the roster minimum of 20. (This is assuming Huet’s salary is off the books, as it will be come the start of the season.)

    With the minimum NHL salary remaining at $500,000, that would leave room for *at most* 2 more players, with just $64,000 to spare even if both are minimum contracts. It was doable, but would leave them with 21-player roster *max* and almost zero flexibility.

    Turco signed at $1.3MM, giving the Hawks an extra $1.45MM. That gives them the flexibility to roster the maximum 23 guys if and when they choose to (road trips) or to promote/sign guys at depth positions who have cap hits higher than $500,000 (like, say, Kyle Beach at $1.17MM).

  12. Thrillho Says:

    Or, rather, “assuming Huet’s *cap hit* is off the books.”

    The Hawks will no doubt be on the hook for Huet’s *salary* regardless.

SHOW DA FIRE AND PASSION, MY FRENDT!

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