The NHL's Having a Hot Summer
It has been brutally hot all over the country, which is ironically the just the right time to talk ice hockey and the NHL free agents.
The season ended later this year because of the lockout, so in a mere seven weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks will begin defense of the Stanley Cup, which they won by defeating the Boston Bruins.
The big shock of the summer actually came in the form of a retirement as Ilya Kovalchuk suddenly retired, leaving the New Jersey Devils without their top scorer. Kovalchuk went home to play in Russia, leaving $77million on the table -- plus the intrigue of an imminent return in the near future -- and leaving the Devils with plenty of salary cap room, but with no one to spend it on.
The Blackhawks signed one of their own as their big free agency splash, as Bryan Bickell will stay in Chicago for four more years. The Hawks also signed Michal Rozsival, Michal Handzus, and Marcus Kruger. However, moving Dave Bolland to Toronto was a surprise.
The runner-up Bruins kept two big pieces of their team, signing Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask to eight-year contracts. Boston also signed Jarome Iginla to a one-year deal. The Bruins did lose Nathan Horton to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who signed him for seven years. The Jackets are a team on the rise, and their move to the Eastern Conference could give them an easier road to the playoffs in 2014.
Other teams making noise in July were the Penguins, Flyers, and Red Wings. Pittsburgh re-signed Chris Kunitz and brought back a former Penguin, defenseman Rob Scuderi, signing him for four years. The Flyers cut two of their stars, buying out goalie Ilya Brygzalov and fan favorite Danny Briere. Detroit, who also moves into the East next year, stunned the Ottawa Senators by signing Daniel Alfredsson, who had played 20 seasons for the Senators.
There will be more moves to come, and as the summer hits its mid-point, hockey will stay on the back burner for most people.But before you know it, Labor Day will be here and hockey will be back with many faces in new places.