Jim Neveau, Blackhawks Beat Writer
Most of the pundits have said that Dale Tallon is a professional, who knows what he is doing, and we should trust his judgment, because, after all, it’s a lot easier to GM from an armchair as opposed to the big chair at the United Center. We’ve basically been told that Tallon can see what’s important, and that he would have never made the Hossa signing if he couldn’t re-sign Toews, Kane, and Keith next year.
These pleas for calm and understanding are all well and good, but when the man allegedly makes a foolish mistake that has prompted an NHL investigation, then those statements lose a chunk of their credibility, and bolster the claims of those of us who think that Tallon may have made a boo-boo with the Hossa signing.
The mistake in question has necessitated the NHL and NHLPA launching an investigation into the qualifying offers the Blackhawks made to several of their restricted free agents, including Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager, Troy Brouwer, and Cam Barker, according to TSN and the Chicago Tribune.
The sticking point of the issue is that the players allegedly did not receive the necessary notification of the offers, according to the story by the Tribune. If the allegations are true and the players did not receive them, the NHL might very well deem the players unrestricted free agents, and the Hawks will be the laughing stock of the league.
GM Dale Tallon said that the offers were mailed to the players before the June 29th deadline, but according to sources cited in the Tribune article, the offers are not supposed to be mailed. Instead, they are supposed to be faxed, both to the league office and to the players (or their agents). Allegedly, some of the agents did not receive faxes of the offers, but the league office received all of them according to Tallon.
Tallon blames the Canada Day holiday for the delay in players receiving the offers, but if it’s true that the offers are not supposed to be mailed, then the Hawks could have a huge problem on their hands.
Worst case scenario would be that the players involved would automatically become unrestricted free agents. That would mean that the right of Chicago to match offer sheets on these guys would be forfeited, and the players would be free to sign with whichever team they choose.
Now, a couple of these guys might decide to stay put in Chicago, but it’s almost a sure bet that a team will try their darndest to acquire a guy of the skill level of Versteeg or Barker if they are available.
If the team were to lose anybody, especially Versteeg, whose name has been mentioned in trade rumors quite a bit recently, it would be a slap in the face to the fans, and a damaging blow to a front office that is assuring the fan base that everything is fine, and that Tallon has everything under control.
Let’s hope that these allegations turn out to be no big deal, and that the mess blows over. If it doesn’t, then Tallon is going to pull a Lucille Ball and have “some ‘splaining to do”.
UPDATE 7/6 6:35CDT: On Monday the 6th, the NHLPA filed a grievance against the Blackhawks regarding the handling of the Restricted Free Agent contracts. Troy Brouwer, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, and Aaron Johnson all signed contracts today, but Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker remain unsigned. Stay tuned.