SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jonathan Toews was asked how the Blackhawks would be fine after this summer, a brief one that included a lot of changes, several key teammates being traded and Patrick Kane being under investigation.
He talked of the on-ice competition looming and of the chance young guys will get with this somewhat revamped Blackhawks team.
“Anything else that’s being talked about away from the rink,” Toews said, “is a non-factor for us.”
Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have long been part of the Blackhawks’ leadership group. They’ve dealt with a lot of things with this team, on and off the ice. They’ll be dealing with different challenges again as the Blackhawks begin training camp at the University of Notre Dame this weekend.
Toews and the Blackhawks’ alternate captains Keith and Seabrook – who will wear the “A” previously worn by Patrick Sharp – said they couldn’t discuss the investigation of Kane; a young woman has accused him of raping her at his Buffalo-area home.
Players said they will keep their focus on camp and trying to repeat.
“I think every year it’s been a new year and a new challenge every year. We’ve gone into a lot of different scenarios and situations in hockey and I think that we’ve always found a way to find a way to win. Not every year, but I think that we’ve got such a good core in here, core group of guys that have been around for a while that have played in those big games and been in those situations whether it was Olympics and things like that…” Keith said. “That pressure, you kind of get used to dealing with that type of pressure, and Ithink that helps you in the long run.”
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The Blackhawks have dealt with distractions before, be it on or off the ice. The Kane investigation is ongoing, and the Blackhawks will have to balance that with what they’re trying to attain on the ice.
“Whatever the situation is, one thing about our group, they’re committed. Their priorities as far as focus and playing that game and doing whatever they can to max out in that situation is as good as I’ve ever seen,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The leadership group leads the charge in that area. In all situations, they find a way to overcome any obstacle. It’s never a concern with me.”