The lockout is complete. Now the Chicago Blackhawks can get down to business.
The Memo of Understanding was finished late Saturday night, and the Blackhawks will begin training camp at noon Sunday at Johnnys Ice House West. It will be quick preparations for the Blackhawks -- along with every other team in the NHL -- as they begin their regular season on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles against the Stanley Cup champion Kings.
Team owner Rocky Wirtz and president John McDonough sent a letter to Blackhawks season ticket holders (the letter is also posted on the teams website):
On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks, we would like to thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past few months. It is imperative that we now look forward in order to prepare and to focus on the exciting season ahead.
We are committed to a mission of consistent excellence, both on and off the ice. This high standard fuels our passion to reward your allegiance to our franchise.
We are looking forward to experiencing the electric atmosphere and energy that you bring to the United Center for every game.
Now, about camp: the Blackhawks will begin their abbreviated camp on Sunday. And unfortunately, due to the lockout and the resulting brief schedule, the Blackhawks will not be having their training camp festival this year. Tickets for the festival purchased through the internet and phone will be automatically refunded. Refunds for all other tickets are available at the point of purchase; or people can send tickets to the Blackhawks at 1901 W. Madison St., 60612.
The training camp festival will be back in the 2013-14 season.
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.
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.