Blackhawks

Playing overseas now on front burner for Toews

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Playing overseas now on front burner for Toews

Jonathan Toews has long been optimistic that at least some of the NHL season could be saved. But after Thursdays events in New York City, the Chicago Blackhawks captain isnt feeling the same.

And playing overseas has become a lot more likely.

Toews was part of talks in New York on Tuesday and part of Wednesday, back when things were going smoothly. But sometime Wednesday the mood change, and Thursday turned into an absolute mess of rejected proposals, items taken off tables and angry words.

Everyone talks about being optimistic but, really, what is there positive to take from whats gone on? Toews said Friday. Its unbelievable how hypocritical the leagues been in saying theyve tried so hard to make an effort to get a deal done when theyve pushed it this far to begin with. It doesnt matter what the players do, how much we sacrifice to make things happen. Its never been good enough.

The Hatfield-McCoy fracas between the NHL and NHLPA took its most bizarre twists on Thursday. Well summarize again in a nutshell: NHLPA director says the two sides are close and announces groups latest proposal. League rejects proposal via email. League commissioner blasts NHLPA and the were close talk. League deputy commissioner says some items were non-negotiable including those five-year player contract limits (the hill we will die on). Commissioner takes some items off the negotiating table.

Owners who had been meeting with players Tuesday and Wednesday, left on Thursday. Four of the owners released statements regarding the weeks talks.

Its all left Toews very frustrated.

Its mind-blowing that weve made it this far and their behavior hasnt changed one bit. Theyre great at trying to make (executive director Donald Fehr) and the players association look like the bad guys, he said. Theyre just trying to play any angle they can. So far, any angle weve had is to see and wait if the NHL wants to wait this long and they have. Im not too sure where we go from here.

Now Toews will look at where he goes from here. Fellow frustrated captain Sidney Crosby told Pittsburgh Post-Gazettes Dave Molinari that playing in Europe has moved to the front burner. Same go for Toews?

Absolutely it does, he said, adding that he doesnt have a specific location in mind yet. Its just sad in so many ways because your whole life you dream of playing in the NHL. You never dream that politics and things like this would get in the way of you playing and living out your dream. But thats obviously something you have to explore more at this point.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

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USA TODAY

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

The goals came in bunches for the Blackhawks in their Oct. 5 season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Blackhawks, it was a nice memory, albeit one that seems far away given they went from scoring at will through their first two games to not being able to buy a goal for a sizeable stretch.

As for the Penguins, well, you figure their memoires of that game means they’ll be more than a little ticked off when the Blackhawks arrive on Saturday night.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of a few losses like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “You certainly remember them more than other losses.”

This is kind of/sort of about the Penguins, who in the first meeting were clearly tired not only from two Stanley Cup runs but also from their season opener/banner raising the prior night. But it’s more about the Blackhawks who, after a lengthy scoring drought, are starting to get their offense going again (15 goals in their last three games).

And while they’d like to shore up their defense – they blew a 4-1 lead vs. New Jersey and just about did it again vs. the New York Rangers – overall they’re trending in the right direction. And just as they face the team against whom they played their best game of the season.

“I’m sure [the Penguins] will be excited about playing us and making things better. They’re playing well, winning some games. For [us], we’re looking for more consistency in our game with the puck and we’re generating some offense,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think it has some ways to improve. That was one night, whether it was the quality of the plays we made or [what], we seemed like we had the puck a lot and did some good things with it. We haven’t seen much of that lately so I think that maybe we can recapture a little bit of that with the puck as well.”

In the past three games the Blackhawks haven’t just reignited their offense, they’ve regained their confidence. Their lines are finding some chemistry. As frustrating as their scoring drought was, they’re hoping it’s behind them.

“At some point in the season I feel like every team goes through it, either in the beginning, the middle or toward the end. You just don’t want to have it right at the end of the season,” Ryan Hartman said. “You can look at it in in a positive way. Hopefully we got that part over with and now we’re just coming in confident and hopefully we put the puck in the net.”

The Blackhawks got off to a hot goal-scoring start against the Penguins by doing the right things: shooting, pouncing on rebounds, getting traffic in front of the net and capitalizing. As they head into their 20th game of the season, the Blackhawks are finally getting back to what worked so well in Game 1.

“Things dried up for a bit but I think we have a good rotation going here with the lines; the chemistry’s starting to fill in a little bit. Some guys are stepping up. [Artem] Anisimov had a big night and Brinsky’s [Alex DeBrincat] playing great. It’s good to see those guys step up. It makes you want to be that next guy who’s called up to step up in the next game,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s good to see some goals go into the net. More important, it’s good to see some wins. But we’re playing the right way and hopefully this will trend in the right direction for us.”