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NHL Players' Association files grievance against Blackhawks

CHICAGO - The Chicago Blackhawks resolved some of the administrative problems surrounding their restricted free agents by agreeing to contract terms with six of those players.

The Blackhawks announced they had agreed to two-year deals with forward Troy Brouwer and goaltender Corey Crawford and one-year contracts with forwards Ben Eager and Colin Fraser and defenceman Aaron Johnson.

On Monday night, they agreed to a three-year deal with defenceman Cam Barker. Barker had six goals and 34 assists in 68 games.

Still absent from the list of signed players was forward Kris Versteeg, an NHL rookie-of-the-year finalist.

The NHL Players' Association filed a grievance on Monday, saying the Blackhawks hadn't notified their restricted free agents in time.

"The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) confirms today that it has filed a grievance regarding the failure of the Chicago Blackhawks to submit qualifying offers to its 2009 restricted free agents prior to the deadline stipulated in the CBA," the NHLPA said in a statement. The NHLPA said the case is pending before an arbitrator.

NHL teams had until June 29 to qualify their restricted free agents. Tendering a qualifying offer enables a player's team the right to match any offer he receives from another club.

Last week, Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon said that offers had been tendered to all seven of Chicago's restricted free agents.

But published reports surfaced that the offers -commonly sent to players and their agents via courier and to the NHL via fax - hadn't arrived in time.

On Sunday, the NHL concluded a brief investigation of the possible administrative mistake without taking any action. A delivery delay could have been caused by the Canada Day holiday on July 1 and U.S. Independence Day on July 4.

"I am aware of the grievance filed by the NHLPA," Tallon said Monday in a prepared statement. "We are respectfully working with the NHL, NHLPA, our players and their representatives so that we can resolve this as soon as possible."

If Tallon signs Versteeg, the grievance could become moot. Last season, Versteeg has 22 goals and 31 assists in 78 games to rank fourth in team scoring.



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