Cup champs have Chicago connections...plus some trade chatter - New York News

Cup champs have Chicago connections...plus some trade chatter

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The 2011-2012 NHL season has officially come to an end with the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup. It was an amazing 16-4 playoff run for the Kings. They were machine-like and are a deserving champion.

There were Chicago connections with the Kings as their head coach Darryl Sutter was a former Blackhawk player and bench boss. After being selected in the 11th round with the 179th pick in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft, Sutter played his entire career as a Blackhawk.

In the old Chicago Stadium, my season tickets were in the row behind where the player's wives were seated. Darryl's wife Wanda, was there for every game no matter how poorly the club was doing. Toward the end of Darryl's playing career it was particularly tough on his wife because Sutter was a frequent healthy scratch.

In a conversation we had during the 1986-1987 season, Darryl's last, I commented to Wanda he would make a good head coach and she said that would be a big decision. Darryl saw what could happen when a former player was given a NHL coaching job before he was ready. Sutter played for Keith Magnuson in the early 80's when he had a short head coaching stint. Magnuson wasn't a head coach in the minors before getting a chance with the Hawks. He lasted less than two seasons and never coached in the NHL again.

Sutter realized he would need to go down to the International League to learn his trade and he did so. In his second season in the IHL, he won the Turner Cup. Sutter then became an assistant in Chicago and finally was promoted to head coach for the 1992-1993 season.

After the 1994-1995 campaign, Sutter suddenly quit to go back home and tend to family matters. Sutter had a young son who was diagnosed with Down syndrome, so he stepped away from coaching for a few seasons. During his departing press conference, Sutter mentioned the importance of his son having as much adult contact as possible during his early years. Sutter was doing really well as the Hawks head coach but he put his family first.

Sutter returned behind the bench with San Jose in 1997 when he was hired by current Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi. Former Blackhawk GM Bob Pulford is Lombardi's father in law, so there's another Chicago connection. Also not to be forgotten is Kings fourth line center Colin Fraser, who was a member of the 2010 Cup winning team.

In late December, Lombardi made a great decision to hire Sutter as a head coach for the second time. It's safe to say without Sutter behind the bench the Kings aren't Stanley Cup champions today.

2012-2013 Season

Next weekend in Pittsburgh the NHL Entry Draft will take place. The Draft marks the beginning of next season and the July 1 free agency signing day is also quickly approaching.

Next week, we will discuss some Draft possibilities for the Blackhawks. The Hawks will have the 18th pick in the first round including the fifth round draft pick obtained from the Rangers in the John Scott trade. The Hawks will have a total of eight selections.

My gut feeling is there will be some big trades in the next 10 days. For the Hawks to take part in those dealings GM Stan Bowman may have to expand his comfort zone. Up until now, Bowman has made a habit of trading with GM's who he has worked alongside of in Chicago.

Al's Shots

Interestingly, the final contest of the season had a familiar slant. Inconsistent officiating and dangerous hits were a big part of last season and they were also featured in the elimination game on Monday night.

My thinking is the officials made the correct call by giving the Devils' Steve Bernier a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. Bernier's check from behind on defenseman Rob Scuderi was dangerous and unnecessary. The Kings subsequently scored three power play goals and never looked back.

The argument can be made if the referee made the proper call on the Kings Jarret Stoll's hit from behind on Stephen Gionta moments before, Bernier's infraction would have never taken place. Stoll went unpunished and unfortunately on the biggest stage with the highest rated officials working the game there was still controversy.

Trade Chatter

Nothing would surprise me as far as trades taking place around the league this summer. Although my thinking is Patrick Kane won't be dealt.

My speculation leads me to watch Edmonton and Ottawa as potential trade partners with the Hawks. The Oilers need defense and Sam Gagner could be available. The Senators have a quickly improving team and need defense as well. Ottawa could use one of three goaltenders as a trade chip if the Hawks are interested.

For those who have their doubts about Corey Crawford, point taken, but my feeling is Hawk management probably won't look to make a big goaltender acquisition.

Crawford was the choice of the front office when Antti Niemi wasn't resigned. There were big cap issues but there was a CBA clause in place that would have allowed the Hawks to resign Niemi for less than the arbitration award.

The Sharks signed Niemi to a $2 million contract which was less than 80 percent of the arbitration award amount of $2.75 million. The Sharks offer was well below the arbitration award amount so the Hawks could have resigned Niemi for the same $2 million.

As we all know the Hawks quickly inked a cheaper alternative in Marty Turco and a big reason was because of their confidence in Crawford. My view is the Hawks will give Crawford the beginning of next season to rebound.

I'm hearing rumblings the Sharks are looking to a make a big splash. Last season my whispers on San Jose dealing Dany Heatley were correct. This time around after acquiring the rights to UFA Brad Stuart rumor has it defender Douglas Murray is on the trading block.

For my money Murray is a better player today than Stuart but Sharks GM Doug Wilson could be desperate to find a winning combination. After many playoff disappointments Wilson could be on a short leash in San Jose.

From what I'm hearing, Wilson is very interested in Anaheim's Bobby Ryan. There is a chance Ryan could be moved this summer but it's doubtful it would be to the rival Sharks. In any event, Wilson has to find a roster soon that can win in the playoffs.

Jon Cooper's AHL Norfolk Admirals have won the Calder Cup. Cooper is due a promotion and has been mentioned as a possibility to join Joel Quenneville's staff as an assistant.

The rub is Cooper has two years remaining on his contract with Tampa Bay and they may not let him out to become an NHL assistant. Beyond that issue, my rumblings indicate Cooper could get the head coaching position in Edmonton.

I'm hearing former Blackhawk assistant coach Mike Haviland is on the short list to become the new bench boss in Washington. If Haviland isn't chosen it is likely he would return to the AHL and wait for another NHL head coaching opportunity.

Follow me on Twitter@AlCimaglia

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