Pat Boyle

Five takeaways from day 1 of Blackhawks training camp

Five takeaways from day 1 of Blackhawks training camp

The Blackhawks opened up training camp at Fifth Third Arena on Friday morning. Here are five takeaways from the first day of action:

1) Dach is docked

Training Camp opened with the news that Kirby Dach is in the concussion protocol.  Dach was injured after taking a hit in the Traverse City tournament finale on Tuesday. It’s impossible to predict a timetable for concussion recovery, but if he is out for an extended period, his chances of making the team would go down dramatically.

2) de Haan long shot to start season 

Defenseman Calvin de Haan is expected to be out two to three weeks (groin strain/shoulder surgery recovery). That timeline suggests de Haan would miss all of training camp and would likely not be available for the opener in Prague.

3) Shaw next to Kane?

The offseason changes have certainly impacted the locker room. Andrew Shaw’s locker is once again next to Patrick Kane’s stall. This will produce plenty of chirping and media congestion that rivals the Edens at rush hour. The two were also together on the same line on Friday. Kane said: “I've always really liked playing with Shawzy. He works hard, gets pucks back. Plays a pretty simple game, gets to the net, creates a lot of space out there. Good first day.”

4) Captain Motivated 

Jonathan Toews has already produced a resume that will land him in the Hall of Fame someday. He enters his 13th season in the NHL after putting up career-best offensive numbers a year ago. So, what did Toews think about being snubbed by NHL Network's list of the current Top 20 Centers in the game and does he use it as motivation? 

“Honestly, kind of, yeah,” said the Blackhawks captain. “If I saw my name at the top of the list, I wouldn’t really key on it too much. But the fact that it’s been a few years since our team has had playoff success, you kind of start losing a little bit of that focus and attention again. It’s not what’s important, but there’s no doubt in the back of your mind you want to prove yourself as one of the best players in the league and on your team. So when you see that, I think it definitely sinks in a little bit, for sure.”

5) Most competitive camp in the last decade?

Over the last decade, the Blackhawks have produced three cups, plenty of salary cap headaches and very few roster spots that are up for grabs at the start of a season. That is not the case for this training camp. Two years of failing to make the playoffs and a bevy of offseason moves has set the table for the most competitive camp in recent memory, especially at forward.

“We have a lot of depth, a lot of players. You can make an argument that 9 or 10 guys could be on the team,” GM Stan Bowman said. “Now, that's not going to be the case. There's going to be some good players that don't start the season here. But that's not to say that they won't be here two weeks later." He added that there is a “group of players we know they're going to be here all season but there's other players that are constantly trying to prove that they are the guy and I think that competition is going to help our team.”

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Blues' 'Gloria' is reminiscent of White Sox with 'Don't Stop Believin'' and Blackhawks with 'Chelsea Dagger'

Blues' 'Gloria' is reminiscent of White Sox with 'Don't Stop Believin'' and Blackhawks with 'Chelsea Dagger'

Sports and music have always had a great friendship, as long as you don’t bring up that whole “Disco Demolition Night” on the South Side back in 1979.

The St. Louis Blues are the latest team to adopt a somewhat obscure song, “Gloria,” in hopes of playing it on a loop until the championship parade is over.

The Blues decision to go with Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit sounds eerily similar to how the White Sox landed on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” back in 2005. A handful of players go to a bar, a song from three decades earlier plays with nearly everyone in the establishment singing a long and – bingo - you have your team anthem.

It got me thinking about how the Blackhawks landed on "Chelsea Dagger" and the soundtrack for three Stanley Cup championships?

This relationship did not start in a bar. It actually began at Madison Square Garden, where the Blackhawks opened the 2008-09 season.

John McDonough and Jay Blunk listened to the Rangers “goal song” four times that night and asked team employees if the Blackhawks needed a signature song, too.

The overwhelming response was “yes” and the task to find the Blackhawks jam was on.

The Blackhawks version of American Idol judges were team employees Pete Hassen, Ben Broder and intern Matt Benjamin.  No fancy studio for this trio.  They were driving in Hassen’s car when Benjamin alerted the group to the Fratelli’s song, Chelsea Dagger.

It was met with mixed reviews in the car, but it made the final three tunes they considered, along with a song from Gwen Stefani and Fall Out Boy.

The Blackhawks had been using Joe Satriani’s, “Crowd Chant” as their main goal song, with some specialty tunes for Jonathan Toews ("Johnny B. Goode"), Patrick Kane ("Rock You Like a Hurricane") and Patrick Sharp ("Sharp Dressed Man").

Game operations began working “Chelsea Dagger” into their goal song playlist. The reaction from the United Center faithful was extremely positive. Fans were dancing in the aisles and singing along with the “do, do, do-do…do, do-do” chorus.

By the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chelsea Dagger was the only goal song for the Blackhawks. The tune has harmonized perfectly the past decade with hundreds of thrilling goals and championship runs. All thanks to a former team intern’s, one-hit wonder.

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Central Casting: Can Blackhawks play the role of playoff team?

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USA TODAY

Central Casting: Can Blackhawks play the role of playoff team?

If the Blackhawks are going to end their postseason drought next season, they are going to have to jump over at least one of the five Central Division foes who qualified for this year’s postseason.

Of course, there is no guarantee the Central will get five teams in next year’s tournament, but let’s look at each club and identify teams that could take a step back next season.

Nashville

Ever since the Predators swept the Blackhawks and lost to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final, they have continued to regress each year in their attempts to hoist the Cup.

Last year, they lost to Winnipeg in Game 7 of the second round. This postseason, Dallas ousted Nashville in the first round.

The Predators appear to be at a Cup crossroads. They need to find more scoring than just the JOFA line. Do they need to move P.K. Subban to acquire scoring depth?

They also had the worst power play in the league and 36-year-old goalie Pekka Rinne had a sub-par .905 save percentage in the playoffs.

Expect a busy offseason in the Music City as the Predators look to stay in the upper tier of the Central.

Cup contender trending: Down

Winnipeg 

Did the Jets run into a team of destiny in the Blues? Or did the opening round loss highlight some areas of concern for Winnipeg?

The Jets season in many ways was the exact opposite of the Blues. Winnipeg started strong and was just average in the second half of the season.

The Jets have seven players that will become unrestricted free agents on July 1st, including Kevin Hayes. They also have six restricted free agents on their roster, which includes Patrik Laine and Jacob Trouba.

The Jets have had a rocky relationship with Trouba and are expected to trade the 25-year-old defenseman. Connor Hellebuyck’s production dropped off a bit from 2018 when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist.

The Jets have a great power play and three lines that can score. A couple of roster tweaks could help this young team take the next step.

Cup contender trending: Even

St. Louis

From last place in the entire league on Jan. 2 to being one of the final four teams standing in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Craig Berube pushed all the right buttons when he took over last November. The Blues commitment to defense was highlighted by finally finding what appears to be a franchise goalie in Jordan Binnington.

The Blues are strong down the middle with centers Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak.

The Blues' key players are under contract next season. So, other than finding a new anthem to replace “Gloria” the Blues could be a major roadblock in the Blackhawks climb up the Central standings.

Cup contender trending: Up

Dallas

Another first-year coach in the Central, Jim Montgomery saw his team improve dramatically, as they fell just one goal short of reaching the Western Conference Final.

The Stars have a tremendous 1-2 punch in net with Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin.  

They have solid special teams with players like Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and John Klingberg putting up monster numbers.

They also saw young players like Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz make an impact on the scoresheet.

The Stars spent a second-round pick on Mats Zuccarello. Will the Stars have enough cap room to sign Zuccarello when he becomes a UFA this summer?

Cup contender trending: Even

Colorado

The Avalanche punched the final postseason ticket in the West and rode it all the way to Game 7 of the second round.

Luck was on the side of the Blackhawks during the draft lottery, but that wasn’t the case for Colorado. They had the best odds for the No. 1 overall pick and ended up with the fourth overall selection.

The Blackhawks won’t have to deal with Jack Hughes in an Avs sweater, but they will have to worry about blue line phenom Cale Makar for the foreseeable future.

The Avalanche had the most dangerous line in hockey for much of the season with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

They are a young, fast team with a steady netminder in Philipp Grubauer. They will see Colin Wilson become a UFA on July 1.

Colorado may end up being the elite team in the Central for years to come.

Cup contender trending: Up

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