The salary purge of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks continues. Announced yesterday was the trade of RW Kris Versteeg and minor league prospect, Bill Sweatt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forwards, Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.Versteeg played in 79 games in 2009-10 and scored 44 points (20G, 24A), and in the '09-'10 playoffs, he tallied 14 points (6G, 8A) in 22 games played. Versteeg is one of several salary purges the Blackhawks have had to make since ending their 49 year Cup drought. Gone too are:
- LW/D Dustin Byfuglien: (82GP, 17G, 17A, 34P) (22GP, 11G, 5A, 16P)
- LW Ben Eager: (60GP, 7G, 9A, 16P) (18GP, 1G, 2A, 3P)
- D Brent Sopel: (73GP, 1G, 7A, 8P) (22GP, 1G, 5A, 6P)
- C Colin Fraser: (70GP, 7G, 12A, 19P) (3GP, 0G, 0A, 0P)
Byfuglien, Eager and Sopel were dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers for a combination of draft picks, prospects and filler players on June 23, 2010 and Colin Fraser was traded to Edmonton for a draft pick on Thursday, June 24, 2010.The Byfuglien trade continues to receive mixed reviews given Byfuglien's rise to playoff prominence, but his regular season play has been erratic at best. Eager and Sopel are quality role players, and while their absence will be felt, they are not irreplaceable. The Versteeg trade is the biggest name so far. A 20 goal scorer for the past two seasons is hard to part with. Here is the situation: Everyone knew that the Blackhawks were going to need to dump salary in order to be under the cap in 2010-11. Byfuglien and Versteeg both had good playoff performances scoring big goals in big games. But the bottom line is that as good as these player are, they are not part of the nucleus of this team. When people talk about the "untouchables" of this team, the names of Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook come to mind. Extending that core even further one can add Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland and Andrew Ladd. In a sport with a salary cap, this is an unfortunate reality of the business. As fun as dynasties like the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston Celtics and Montrael Canadiens might be for fans of those teams, sports leagues are now structured around the concept of parity. Successful teams are 'punished' and unsuccessful teams are 'rewarded' (sounds like our current political climate…another topic for another day). The days of sports dynasties are over. The last sports dynasty was the Chicago Bulls of the 1990's when they won six NBA titles in eight years. Parity means teams can be competitive for a period of time, but have a limited 'window' to win championships. With the Blackhawks core relatively intact, I see no reason why they won't be competitive for the next ten years or so (barring injuries). With the right blend of developing prospects and veteran role players, they might even win another Cup or two in that span. For now, I for one, will enjoy this Cup victory! GO BLACKHAWKS!!!