Blackhawks

Young players' impressive camps could mean tough decisions for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Young players' impressive camps could mean tough decisions for Blackhawks

Last week coach Joel Quenneville talked of the Blackhawks’ potential roster, one whose bottom six had several one-way contracts and not a lot of vacancies for young players who may break through. How would those deals, the ones that would force the Blackhawks to potentially put veterans on waivers, impact their decisions?   

“Hockey is always a significant part of it. The business part sometimes adds to it,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes – I don’t want to call it the deal breaker but could be one area that has a big influence on the decision. But we like to be making hockey decisions first.”

Considering how well some of the Blackhawks’ young on-the-bubble players are doing, the hockey and business decisions may be colliding very soon.

John Hayden has been outstanding since the start of camp and had another strong game (and his first preseason goal) in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday night. Alex DeBrincat has also been very good; Quenneville took a look at him on the third line with Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman on Sunday and could revisit that combo again soon. Vinnie Hinostroza is getting another long look.

The Blackhawks have two more preseason games to gauge what they need and want to do, and they’ll take advantage of as many games and practices to see what works best.

“We’ve got some ideas but I still think there are a couple of decisions that need to be made,” Quenneville said. “There’s gotta be personnel decisions, line combinations or defensive pairings that are still open, and there are spots that are open, for sure. I don’t want to put a quantity or number on it, but there is.”

Sure, there are definitely spots to fill on defense – possibly an extra one given Michal Rozsival hasn’t passed his training camp physical (upper body) and his status has not changed. But this is more about the forward lines, which have to weigh one-way contracts of depth veterans against young talent.

The Blackhawks always talk about having more grit in the lineup but the players who have had a mix of skill and grit (guys like Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, Hartman, you get the point) have helped them garner the most success. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks figure out a way to get these young guys in the lineup.

Quenneville’s always said he and the Blackhawks love tough decisions. Right now, they have some.

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

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USA TODAY

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:

Eddie Olczyk expected to return to the booth this week

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USA TODAY

Eddie Olczyk expected to return to the booth this week

Eddie Olczyk will return to the broadcast booth for Wednesday's Blackhawks-Blues game, according to USA Today's Kevin Allen

The news comes six weeks after the Chicago legend began chemotherapy for colon cancer. And although he made a brief, emotional return on Oct. 7 -- putting on the headset to join Pat Foley for a moment during intermission -- he will provide color commentary for the entire game on Wednesday. He'll call the rivalry matchup alongside Doc Emrick on NBCSN. 

Olczyk, who grew up in Palos Heights and attended Brother Rice, will take the mic again the following night as the Blackhawks welcome the Edmonton Oilers to the United Center. As for the rest of the season, he plans to work when his health allows. 

“We have some dates that we have highlighted and hopefully I will be strong to do the job,” Olczyk told USA Today. “If I am not feeling good, I just have to be honest with everyone and tell them I can’t do it.”

It'll be nice to see Edzo back at work, providing dynamite analysis and passing along tips to all those young hockey players out there.