Arbitrating News: Chicago Blackhawks, Antti Niemi Ruling Announced

Kyle WahlgrenCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2010

While the story continues to develop, the NHL arbitrator recently awarded Antti Niemi and his agent Bill Zito the amount of $2,750,000.

A night after many Chicago Blackhawks contingent announced a one-year, $1.5 million contract for Marty Turco, pending the ruling of this decision, it is a look into what direction the Blackhawks may go.

Now that the ruling has been made, the Blackhawks have a few options.

The first, and most obvious, is sign the Stanely Cup net-minder and figure out a way to make him fit.  Many have mentioned names as Tomas Kopecky who could allow for more room, but nothing has really developed.

Then there is Patrick Sharp.

Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman has announced that Sharp is going nowhere.  With the Blackhawks being extremely thin at center, it really leaves little option.

The option of a sign and trade or outright release could be likely.

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Should the Blackhawks choose to accept the arbitrator, it will most likely be to obtain the rights to trade Niemi.

While this may work in the Hawks best interest, there are teams asking about acquiring Niemi. 

Should the Blackhawks remain salary cap tight, the compensation would not be immense.  The expectations at that may be a role player and a possible draft pick.

This leaves us with the doom of the situation. 

Letting Niemi and Zito (perhaps the most hated man in Chicago) go.

Fans and teammates have seemed to grown a bond with the goaltender.  Not surprisingly, the fans were impatient a season ago when their success was being relied upon the likes of Cristobal Huet.

Would fans despise Niemi should this happen?

Probably not.

He did play a part in bringing them back to the level that they had been longing for, for the past 50 years.

Undeniably, fans would relish in the failure of any team Niemi would go to.

While any step made with the future of the goaltender position would seem like a sidestep. 

The Blackhawks have been strategically rebuilt for success and regardless of any criticism, the organization has continued to show commitment to winning.

Recent Update: Sources recently have surfaced speculating a possible sign and trade of Niemi.  Suitors have been rumored to be the Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers.  Stay tuned for developments over the next 24 hours. 

Kyle Wahlgren is a featured columnist for and owner of