Johnny Oduya reflects on time with Blackhawks in Chicago return


Johnny Oduya reflects on time with Blackhawks in Chicago return

Johnny Oduya stood in front of the media group he’d seen so often the previous few seasons, his Chicago return coming before the regular season did.

“I don’t know when the next game is, January or February? So it’s pretty far off,” Oduya said of the next time his new team, the Dallas Stars, would be in Chicago. “It’s a big part of my career, obviously. It’ll be a fun game.”

The former Blackhawks defenseman parted Chicago with great memories and two Stanley Cups. He’s settling in with the Stars, who the Blackhawks hosted in their final preseason game on Saturday night. For Oduya, the transition has been an enjoyable one.

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“Obviously in a new spot, there are always things you have to get into,” he said. “I’d been here in Chicago for a couple of years, and you’re accustomed to some things you don’t think about during games. But it’s fun where you’re in a new position. You feel you’re starting over. You want to learn, you want to be a part of the new team organization; so that’s something fun.”

Oduya had started the summer giving the Blackhawks some time, given their cap situation, to figure out if they could re-sign him. But on July 14, Oduya told the Blackhawks he was going to look elsewhere; the next day he signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Stars.

Much like Patrick Sharp, who was traded to the Stars on July 10, Oduya brings a wealth of experience to a young Dallas team. But Oduya said it’s not a situation of a team leaning on him and his experience.

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“It’s a collaborative effort,” he said. “Obviously we don’t have the experience of the Hawks but you have to start somewhere. And learning everyday, moving forward, that’s what you have in mind. I’m not worried about that at all. We’re trying to play good collectively and be as strong as possible.”

The Stars got players like Oduya and Sharp to bolster their already talented roster. They wanted guys who have been through the playoff rigors and know what it takes to get to the pinnacle. The Stars want to be that team again. Guys like Oduya will help.

“Of course it’s a part of the, how do you say, evolution of the team: we have to move forward. It’s something we’ll work on every day,” Oduya said. “We started doing camp here and maybe emphasizing a little bit more of the defensive team play. The ability is there with scoring and getting a lot of guys involved up front. But defense is a team thing and something we’re working on. We’re optimistic; we have a good young team and we’re hungry so we want to move forward.”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: