Blackhawks

Brawls and big goals, Al Secord brought both for the Blackhawks

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Brawls and big goals, Al Secord brought both for the Blackhawks

When Al Secord drove to the net he did it with determination. The former Blackhawks forward was known for combining a scoring touch with toughness and when he got to the net, he was happy to do one or the other.

“If he wasn’t scoring a goal and someone was cross-checking him, he was getting into a fight with that guy,” Troy Murray recalled. “That was the mentality. ‘If I’m going to the front of the net and if you want to try and move me out, I’m going to fight you. I’ll show you you’re not going to be able to do that.’ And for the defenseman who didn’t want to try and move him out, that’s why he scored 40, 50 goals on a regular basis for a couple of years.”

Secord hurt teams with points and punches. In the 1981-82 season he recorded 44 goals and 303 penalty minutes; the next season he had 53 goals and 180 minutes. He was a great compliment to line mates Denis Savard and Steve Larmer in his playing days and on Sunday night he was the latest to be honored by the Blackhawks’ One More Shift.

In his playing days Secord, who Murray called, “the ultimate team guy,” was all about having the right level of dislike for the enemy. So much so that if he saw opposing players at a bar, be it on the road or at home, he wouldn’t go into that establishment.

“I never wanted to get to know the opposing side and I remember hearing that from Gordie Howe, actually, watching him as a kid,” Secord said. “It’s true. I’m the type of guy, if I become your friend, it’s much more difficult to do your job.”

As much as Secord enjoyed his first career he’s loving his second one, too. Secord has been a pilot with American Airlines for many years now – he’s been a captain for the past two years – and he plans on doing it for at least a few more years.

“Not that I’m a control freak but you are in more control and you can control the atmosphere,” Secord said with a laugh. “I work with so many enjoyable people and there are 50 ways to do the same job. We just have a serious attitude as far as getting the job done but we make it a pleasant atmosphere. So I really like it. Right now the [retirement] age is 65 so I potentially have another five years plus to keep the job. We’ll see how that works out.”

Secord is firmly ensconced in his current career, which has been very rewarding. But many will always remember him as the Blackhawks forward who, one way or another, was going to punish you.

“He was the prototypical forward you wanted to have who could score goals and would do anything he needed to do to defend his team,” Murray said. “I loved him as a teammate. To me Al will go down as one of the toughest guys the Blackhawks had in the history of their franchise and one of the best goal-scorers, too.”

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.