Blackhawks

Hayes 'dangerous' in debut

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Hayes 'dangerous' in debut

Jimmy Hayes' NHL debut came on one of the biggest stages possible. No, it wasnt a playoff game, but the Blackhawks regular-season game against division rival Detroit certainly had that feel.And while Hayes didnt log a ton of minutes, coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw from the rookie when he was on the ice.He had a great first shift and he still had presence, Quenneville said after the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over Detroit on Friday night. He had good physicality, strength with the puck and he was dangerous around the net. He didnt play a ton but it was a good first game for him.Hayes played about eight and a half minutes, recording two shots on goal, a blocked shot and four hits, tied for team best with Daniel Carcillo. Playing with Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette on the fourth line, the group had scoring opportunities early. Hayes himself clanged one off the post.The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Hayes is the latest Blackhawks prospect to have a chance with the big team. But unlike the past few seasons when the Blackhawks were doing the Rockford shuffle due to money constraints, now theyre doing it to see what their farm team has to offer.And why shouldnt they look at their options? They have plenty of them, mainly among the forward ranks. Some have asked if its hurting the young players development. No, it isnt. Their development is still mainly with Rockford, not with the Blackhawks. Not yet, anyway.So far, none of the prospects have latched on for a long ride in Chicago. Part of that is because of the Blackhawks depth and health: theyve both been good. In some cases, the kids just arent ready for the big stage.How long will Hayes stay? If he keeps building on his debut game, it could be for a little bit. With Hayes here, the Blackhawks have 23 on the roster and can stay that way as long as they want no salary-cap, shuffle-inducing problems here anymore.Hayes is the latest to get the opportunity, one he called a dream come true when he arrived earlier this week. What he does with it is up to him.

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: