Preps Talk

Toews, Montador skate; still no timetable on return


Toews, Montador skate; still no timetable on return

Jonathan Toews skated for the fourth consecutive day and Steve Montador joined his teammates this morning as the Chicago Blackhawks prepared for tonights game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Toews (concussion) was already out for tonights game but is still hoping to play Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. A few things need to happen before then, however; the captain has not yet been cleared for contact and said hes still not feeling 100 percent.

Im getting closer and closer as far as how I feel injury wise but definitely could tell the conditioning needs some work, Toews said. Every time we play a game I hope for that game. Im not thinking about missing the game on Tuesday but Im more focused on how this practice went and what I have to do the rest of the day.

Montador (concussion) joined the Blackhawks for the first time since getting injured against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 7. He was skating on his own a few weeks back but was off the ice recently.

I dont call them setbacks, Montador said. When youre coming back after 3-4 weeks off and then skating again, sometimes you need to take some time off. Just because Im not skating doesnt mean Im not working out and training and stuff.

Its been a trying time for Montador, who has missed the last 15 games.

Coming back from an injury, and certainly one Ive never been out for this long during the regular season, its a challenge, he said. You feel like youre getting ready and then you take some time off. Theres some psychological and emotional turbulence that goes with it. Its certainly a challenge but the overall trend has been solid, which is exciting for me.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will prepare for a Kings team which has lost two in a row. The Kings are currently 11th in the Western Conference.

Ray Emery will start in goal for the Blackhawks. Emery has just three career games against the Kings, with a 1-0-0 record.

Stagg's Kyle Neputy leads through action during offseason

Stagg's Kyle Neputy leads through action during offseason

While many athletes talk about leadership and the importance of being a leader, others let their actions do the talking. One of them is Stagg senior quarterback Kyle Neputy (6-foot-4, 234 pounds).

Neputy, who is signed and will play this fall at Cornell, participated in last year's annual Franklin Middle School Charity Dodgeball tournament. The tournament had such a positive impact on Neputy and his fellow Charger teammates that they decided to rally together and support a worthwhile cause for a second straight year. 

I had a chance to catch up with the Kyle Neputy at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School. 

Neputy shares why he and his Stagg teammates decided to support the event. He also had a chance to reflect on making the move to Cornell later this year.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.