The salary-cap crunched Hawks are hoping for a manageable salary award in the case, so they can squeeze Niemi onto the roster. Niemi wants to be paid like a Stanley Cup winning goalie. The arbitrator has up to 48 hours to make a ruling, and then the Hawks will have up to 48 hours to decide whether to accept it, accept it and trade him or walk away from the award and make Niemi an unrestricted free agent.
Hawks GM Stan Bowman, who held a media teleconference on Thursday evening, said the team is ready for any of the above scenarios. Whichever path they choose, he said, is dependent on what the amount is awarded to Niemi. That includes losing the Finnish goalie and trying to fill another big gap caused by stiff salary cap challenges.
"Of course it would be a loss, but the nature of sports is that change does happen," said Bowman, who expects the decision to be made on Saturday. "My job is to try and find a way to make things work if that's a necessity. You kind of have to embrace change and realize it's an opportunity for somebody else."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent