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Tallon already at work trying to keep Havlat here
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

The Blackhawks would like to keep their leading scorer, Martin Havlat, in Chicago. Havlat becomes a free agent on July 1.

 

Associated Press

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's contract with the Blackhawks ends July 1.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/29/2009 2:05 PM | Updated: 5/29/2009 7:11 PM

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Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon didn't waste any time jumping on the phone Thursday and Friday with Allan Walsh, the agent for Martin Havlat.

Havlat will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and both sides want to get something done to keep the Hawks' leading scorer in town.

"We're going to continue to talk," Tallon said. "We've got 30 days-plus until July 1. Marty stated he wants to stay here, and we want Marty back. We'll just keep working and see if we can get it done. We'll work as hard as we can for 30 days."

Of course, a lot depends on Havlat's contract demands in terms of money and length of deal. Havlat collected $6 million this season and it's possible he could go for a deal with a lower salary if there are enough years added.

"I would love to stay here, so we'll see how it goes," Havlat said Friday. "We've got one month to agree to everything. We've already had some discussions, and we'll see if it works out.

"I love the city, I love the fans and especially my teammates. This team is the youngest team in the league and is going to progress. I think we have a great future."

With many NHL teams feeling the money pinch, Havlat might not command as much on the open market as he could get from the Hawks, especially considering there are other good offensive players available as free agents such as Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Mike Cammalleri.

"If you want to play here and if you want to be a Blackhawk, that's important," Tallon said. "We have something to build on here, and I'm sure Marty sees what's happening here - a full house every night, a great city to live in, great teammates and a brilliant future. Why wouldn't you want to be a part of this?"

Havlat believes he could have played tonight had there been a Game 6 at the United Center against Detroit.

Havlat suffered what the Hawks confirmed was a concussion on the high hit from Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall in Game 3.

Havlat admitted the hit might have been a clean one after all.

"I saw the replay after and I thought I was going to get the puck and I got a bad bounce," Havlat said. "Some people say it was a bad hit and some people say it was a clean hit. I know he was just doing his job and didn't want to hurt anybody and was just finishing his check. If you look at it, it might be a clean one."

As for Khabibulin, he told reporters Friday that he wants to stay with the Hawks as well, but it's more than likely he'll be allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent after four years with the team.

"I honestly don't know what's going to happen," Khabibulin said. "I'd love to stay here."

The Hawks certainly can't have more than $12 million tied up in their goalies again, which makes Khabibulin's exit probable unless Tallon can trade Cristobal Huet. But with Huet still owed more than $16 million over the next three years, he probably is as close as it gets to being untradable.

"We had some tough years, but at the same time I've had a lot of fun," Khabibulin said. "It's a great city and the fans are great, especially now with the building always full. Whatever happens, I hope Cristóbal does well next year."