COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Blackhawks are in a holding pattern after placing goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers Monday.
Not only are they holding their breath hoping a team claims the veteran and alleviates their salary-cap issues as well as a potential starting goalie controversy. They also are holding their tongues.
Coach Denis Savard was equally tight-lipped, as it's clear no one wants to burn bridges because there's a possibility Khabibulin isn't going anywhere if he goes unclaimed during the 24-hour waiver period, which ends at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"It's not my job to decide the personnel," Savard said. "The players are given to us, and it's our job to coach them."
It remains to be seen if Khabibulin, who was unavailable for comment, is one of those players. If he clears waivers, the Hawks could send him to Rockford of the American Hockey League. The $6.75 million remaining on his contract would go with him and free up space for Tallon to go after a second-line center.
But there's no guarantee the Hawks would send him to the minors, in part because if they wanted to recall him during the season, Khabibulin would go through re-entry waivers and a team could pick him up for half his salary — with the Hawks paying the other half.
It's unlikely Khabibulin will be claimed before the deadline, and Tallon continues his quest to find a willing trade partner. In any trade, the Hawks would have to take a player in return to help ease the financial hit.
Khabibulin became expendable when the Hawks signed Cristobal Huet to a four-year, $22.5 million free-agent contract July 1.
Tallon and Savard have repeatedly said they like the thought of having two No. 1 goaltenders, but having $12 million invested in goalies is putting a crimp in Tallon's roster maneuvers with the season opener looming Oct. 10. The Hawks are about $1.5 million under the league's salary cap.
The Hawks are deep in goal, with Huet poised to be the full-time starter and Corey Crawford and free-agent signee Antti Niemi waiting in the wings.
Cannon fodderThe Columbus Blue Jackets, using most of their regulars, hammered an undermanned Hawks team 7-1 at Nationwide Arena on Monday night behind two goals from Rick Nash. The Hawks got a third-period power-play goal from Petri Kontiola.
While the bulk of the Hawks' regulars had the night off, some players who will be on the regular-season roster did appear.
Ben Eager, expected to play on the fourth line this season, had the biggest impact as he had an assist and racked up nine penalty minutes, including a second-period fight during which he pummeled Raffi Torres, who was playing his first game in nine months after knee surgery. Torres suffered a separated shoulder during the fight and is expected to miss six weeks.
"I feel a lot better personally and physically," said Eager, who was limited to 32 games last season by a concussion and shoulder injury. "I worked hard this summer, and I'm ready to get things started. Last year was a bit of a nightmare. I don't want to go through that again this year, so I prepared myself a lot better."
One-timersHuet gave up all seven goals Monday, though three were on the power play. Crawford is scheduled to start in goal Tuesday night against the Wild in St. Paul. … Martin Havlat has been cleared to play following shoulder surgery and is also scheduled to play in Minnesota along with Dustin Byfuglien, who has been limited by a sore groin. … Forwards Bryan Bickell, Michael Blunden and Jake Dowell and defenseman Tim Hambly were assigned to Rockford.