Blackhawks

Look out: Seabrook wants head hits punished

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Look out: Seabrook wants head hits punished

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 5:37 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
Brent Seabrook has read the stories: former athletes, including hockey players, still suffering the ramifications of concussions and head shots taken during their careers.

We all want to have families and live our life after hockey, said Seabrook, who suffered concussions the past two seasons. If you break a leg or tear a knee, you can still live a life. But when youre struggling with some of the stuff you see some struggling with, related to heads, its sad.

Head shots, concussions and their long-term affects arent new. But the NHL is currently without its biggest star, Sidney Crosby, because of them. Hes speaking out against them. And because of that, Seabrook said, maybe the league will finally start doing more about them.

With Sid being hurt its definitely a bigger issue, he said. Its been blown up and thats the best thing for the game is making everyone more aware.

Its sad that it has to come to this.

Crosby, whos been out since January, is doing better but is still on no timeline to return. The NHL wasnt so popular coming out of the lockout at least in America. But along with Alex Ovechkin, Crosby was the poster child that brought fans back to the game. Now they need to help him and the rest of their players by figuring out how to cut down on these concussions.

It gets scary, said Dave Bolland, who missed a month with a concussion, courtesy of an elbow to his head. Sidney Crosby is still out. Its scary how long some of those things can take.

Indeed, the issue has everyones attention. Now what to do about it? Crosby recognized that fine line when he talked last week: you dont want to penalize a guy who just made an honest mistake. Seabrook agreed.

You cant protect yourselves all the time. Sometimes youre put in bad situations and bad spots, Seabrook said. The guy trying to do it is not necessarily trying to hurt you or knock your head off, hes just trying to make a hard play. The game happens to quick. Its just one of those things.
"We all want to have families and live our life after hockey.-- Brent Seabrook.
Still, there are possibilities. Do something immediately to the guys who take runs at players and throw elbows high, especially away from the play.

And penalize consistently. Remember the 2011 postseason? Several bad hits yielded little to nothing in suspension time.

There cant be different sets of rules in the playoffs or in the first 10 games, Seabrook said. There has to be a hard stance.

The NHL can start with the blatant shots: penalize, fine, suspend. And not just one game or that measly 2,500 fine that most players can find in the cushions of their couch. Make offenders accountable and make it enough that they stop.

There are enough sad stories out there. Give current players a chance at a happier ending.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

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USA TODAY

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

Anton Forsberg had just finished an extended morning skate Wednesday morning in St. Louis. The backup goaltender had played in one regular-season game for the Blackhawks to that point, so getting in extra work to stay sharp was helpful.

“I try to keep my focus in practice and work extra every day, get a few extra shots in practice with the extra guys who are out there, work with Jimmy and try to keep my game shape,” Forsberg said, referring to Blackhawks goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Whatever Forsberg’s working on in practice and skates seems to be working, because in two games with the Blackhawks he’s looked sharp. Forsberg probably deserved a victory on Thursday night when he stopped 40 shots in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the backup life to wait and see when that next start will come, but Forsberg has been ready.

“For sure I felt more comfortable today, more used to the speed,” he said following Thursday’s game. “I felt I read the game better, felt I had more time moving around. It’s tough, again, to lose in overtime. Obviously I wanted to win and it’s frustrating.”

Frustrating for sure, but Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they want and need: a dependable backup that gives them a chance to win. The two goals Forsberg gave up on Thursday weren’t softies, either — Patrick Maroon’s goal off a ridiculous Connor McDavid pass and Mark Letestu’s over game-winner that deflected off Brent Seabrook’s stick.

“He kept us in a tight game like he did in Toronto, got us to overtime. I kind of feel bad we didn’t get him a win in either of those,” Ryan Hartman said. “He played well both of those games. It’s nice to have a guy on the back end like that.”

Forsberg has blended in well with the Blackhawks. It helps that he already knew two of them, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov, his former teammates in Columbus. He and Corey Crawford already have a good rapport. Same goes for he and Waite, and Forsberg has soaked up any information they’ve given him.

“I feel like both him and Corey teach me a lot. We talk about different situations, especially all the reads,” Forsberg said. “I get to know how (Crawford) thinks the game. He’s been around a long time and has been doing well, so it’s interesting every day to hear what he has to say. Even Jimmy’s been around same thing there, discussing my game, what we want to improve, what we want to do different, what to keep the same and go from there.”

The extra work in practices and skates appears to be working as Forsberg has done a lot right in just his first two games, which were 10 days apart. The Blackhawks have had a good run of backup goaltenders; two games is a small sample size but Forsberg could be the latest reliable backup.