Blackhawks

Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz retires, will remain with team as player development advisor

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz retires, will remain with team as player development advisor

Chris Kunitz is hanging up his playing skates, but he's not going anywhere.

Tuesday, Kunitz and the Blackhawks announced that the 39-year-old is retiring from the NHL following a 15-season career. However, he will remain with the Blackhawks, joining the hockey operations department as a player development adviser. In his new role, Kunitz will assist both the Blackhawks coaching staff and that of the Rockford Icehogs, the team's AHL affiliate.

Kunitz joined the Blackhawks for the 2018-19 season, tallying 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 56 games. He spent the bulk of his career with the Penguins (2008-17), though, tallying 388 points (169 goals, 219 assists) in 569 games. He won three Stanley Cups (2009, 2016, 2017) with Pittsburgh. 

Before joining the Penguins, Kunitz also played with the Anaheim Ducks (2003-05, 2005-09), winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. 

"I feel very fortunate to have been a part of four amazing organizations over the last 15 years," Kunitz said in a press release. "First and foremost, I’d like to sincerely thank the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Every one of these organizations was the ultimate example, not only to me, but to my children, on what true professionalism should be.

"Secondly, I’d like to thank the owners, coaches, trainers, management. Your love for the game, the team and the community was exemplified daily. I am very fortunate to have worked with every one of you.

"Finally, to my teammates, thank you for everything. As a young player you taught me to give my very best. Your leadership helped mold me into the player I knew I could be. I was given the opportunity to play with the very best teams and the very best players and I’m grateful for the laughs and the friendships that we shared together. Thank you for making my childhood dream come true.”

“Chris had an outstanding professional career. His four Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medal speak for themselves," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a press release. "While coaching him last year, I recognized what an asset he would be for our staff and the organization. I’m very pleased to have him a part of our coaching group and, also, use him as a development resource for our young players in Rockford.”

Kunitz, whose wife is from the Chicagoland area, will continue to reside in Chicago's western suburbs with his family.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena in Monday's preseason opener:

1. Alex Nylander's impressive debut

The Blackhawks have about eight to nine forwards vying for a few spots on the Opening Night roster and Nylander is one of them. After standing out in Sunday's training camp festival at the United Center, he did so again in the Blackhawks' preseason opener in Washington.

Nylander scored a goal, added an assist and registered three shots on goal in 16:40 of ice time. The offensive upside is evident; it's all about whether he can put it together and do so on a consistent basis.

2. Adam Boqvist stands out

GM Stan Bowman revealed on the first day of training camp that Boqvist will be turning pro this season, and the 2018 No. 8 overall pick had a strong preseason debut on Monday.

Boqvist recorded a primary assist on Nylander's tally in the second period and later scored a pretty goal when he roofed one past Capitals netminder Pheonix Copley. He finished with four shot attempts (three on goal), two takeaways, two blocked shots and one giveaway in 16:10 of ice time. He was noticeable at both ends of the ice, which must be encouraging for the coaching staff.

3. Other standouts

— Aleksi Saarela was on a line with Nylander and David Kampf, and all three of them played well. The trio generated seven scoring chances at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick, and connected for two goals. Saarela was credited with the first after parking himself in front of the net and redirecting Gustafsson's shot from the point.

— Brendan Perlini had a strong finish to the game. He led all skaters with eight shot attempts and five shots on goal, registered two hits and one takeaway in 16:40 of ice time.

— Ryan Carpenter won eight of 13 faceoffs for a percentage of 61.5. Expect him to be relied on frequently for defensive zone draws this season.

4. Overtime winner

It was an entertaining 3-on-3 overtime for preseason hockey, but the Blackhawks came up on the losing end of it. Good thing the points don't count this time of year.

Dylan Sikura was caught playing the role as a defenseman and Tom Wilson took advantage by blowing right past him and putting it behind Collin Delia for the game winner:

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What kind of role will Andrew Shaw have with Blackhawks?

What kind of role will Andrew Shaw have with Blackhawks?

Andrew Shaw is back in Chicago, but things are different from the last time he was here.

His teammates have changed, the practice facility is new and the state of the team recently went through a retooling period. Perhaps most notably, the entire coaching staff has been overhauled and is now led by 34-year-old Jeremy Colliton.

It’s a different system than Joel Quenneville’s and Shaw is trying to get caught up to speed as quickly as possible.

"Watching a lot of tape," Shaw said. "Want to make sure come season time there's no thinking, it's just doing. Just repetition is going to get over that and watching video and really focusing on every drill and every video session as well."

What Shaw’s role will be with the Blackhawks this season remains to be seen, but the early answer is: it could be anything and everything. 

Last season in Montreal he had his best offensive output playing on the wing — right to be exact. But in the first three days of training camp, including the team scrimmage game on Sunday at the United Center, Shaw was centering a line with Patrick Kane.

Colliton is simply experimenting with the idea to see what kind of options he may have during the season, not necessarily how he wants to start on Opening Night.

"It's an option," Colliton said. "We just wanted to try it. He'll probably play wing, too. You'll see him in exhibition, we'll move him around. There's a bunch of guys who we're just looking to see if we can find some chemistry and where they're comfortable and where they can help us and maybe multiple positions, multiple roles, where guys can be valuable. I think that's important as a coaching staff, we want to find that out as early as we can."

Shaw is a player who can and probably will play on all four lines this season. He’s also someone who can play any of the three forwards positions. That’s what makes him a valuable cog in the system because he can be moved around basically anywhere.

"I think that’s part of what we try to build is to have, whether he’s top six or could be on the fourth line, he’s still going to contribute," Colliton said. "We want to have that sort of personality through our lineup. We have a bunch of guys who can move up and down. That’s probably, obviously the lines [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane are on, they’re going to be dangerous and are always going to be thought of as Top 6, but we want to keep teams honest no matter who’s on the ice."  

Asked what role he expects to play this season, all Shaw would say is he plans on playing the same way no matter where he's placed in the lineup on a nightly basis.

"Same thing," Shaw said. "Go to the net, go to the dirty areas, get pucks, skate hard, play physical. Same thing. Same thing I've been doing no matter where I play. It's what makes me successful, it's what I'm good at, it's what's going to keep me in the league."

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