The dismantling of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks has become quite familiar this off-season. Knowledgeable fans of the NHL know that the Blackhawks had to trade a fraction of the team to save money due to salary cap issues.
Majority of the players we have said good-bye to these past few months were already signed and given a raise from last year’s salary. One player though, had a successful season playing primarily on the back-end lines and only 60 games was Ben Eager. The Chicago Blackhawks traded Eager to the Atlanta Thrashers along with: Brent Sopel , Andrew Ladd , Dustin Byfuglien, and prospect Akim Aliu.
Ben Eager filed for arbitration in early July, and eventually was given a contract that was right up Eager’s alley. On July 29, Ben Eager agreed to a contract worth $965,000.
Wait, wasn’t this the same exact amount on money Eager was raking in last season with the Chicago Blackhawks? A good number of people expected Eager to want a bump in his salary after raising the cup this past June, but did anyone address this matter with him? It seems that no one in the Blackhawks organization addressed Ben Eager and asked if he would be satisfied with taking the identical amount of money as he did last season.
Now say they did, but still did not want to keep him, it makes you wonder why? Ben Eager played only 60 regular season games with a total of 16 points and a plus nine rating. Also, Eager had scored the game winning goal of Game Two of the Blackhawks vs. Flyers Stanley Cup Final Game on May 31, 2010. Eager is considered to be an agitator, and a guy who will be there when you need him. He clocks in a lot of penalty minutes, but every organization needs a player to stick up for the team.
The Blackhawks let Adam Burish, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager go in the month of June. Those men were their main agitators. All of the players listed above were given raises, or traded due to the salary cap crunch, except Mr. Eager.
Was it really worth trading Ben Eager? It may have been a smarter decision to keep him on the team for one more season while earning fewer than one million dollars. Eager could have used his experience as an aggressive player to bestow with the upcoming prospects in the NHL. Being in this position could have benefited the Blackhawks for the 2010-2011 season.
Some may think this is not too big of a deal, but we all saw what the depth of the Chicago Blackhawks bottom two lines produced. Without the depth the team held, the cup would not have wound up in Chicago this past season. A few key players on the third and fourth should have been kept for support. The one player not expecting a raise, well, that is one player that could have still been on the ice in a Blackhawks uniform.
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