Blackhawks make final wave of cuts, assign Dylan Sikura and Collin Delia to Rockford


Blackhawks make final wave of cuts, assign Dylan Sikura and Collin Delia to Rockford

The Blackhawks made their final wave of cuts after Saturday's preseason finale, assigning forward Dylan Sikura and goaltender Collin Delia to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. 

This puts the roster at 25 players: 13 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. The Blackhawks have until Tuesday, Oct. 2 by 4 p.m. CT to get to 23 or under, but are expected to place Gustav Forsling, Connor Murphy and Corey Crawford on injured reserve to accomplish that. 

Sikura, who's still considered to be a prospect, played in five games with the Blackhawks last season straight out of college and flashed his potential by registering three assists. The assignment may feel like a demotion and is a difficult decision to make for the Blackhawks because of their need for depth scoring, but it shouldn't for several reasons outlined here.

Sikura recently spoke about the intense forward battle and what benefits going to Rockford may have on his game.

"I think sometimes when you're out there you just kind of overthink a few things," he said. "There's a lot thrown at you within these two weeks with the systems and everything and you kind of catch yourself thinking too much out there sometimes. I think you've just got to rely on your instincts and sometimes you've just got to play the game of hockey instead of systems and stuff like that."

"Obviously I want to stay here. This is the place I want to be. At this point it's tough to say what's going to happen. There's positives to both, obviously you see a guy like Vinnie [Hinostroza] last year go down and lit it up down in the [AHL] and come back up and sign a nice contract, so obviously there's some pros going to Rockford and you obviously want to play in the NHL. At the end of the day just control what I can control at this point."

In goal, Delia has made a strong case to be higher on the organizational depth chart but it's a little crowded with Crawford, Cam Ward and Anton Forsberg, the latter of whom would have to go through waivers if he were to be sent to Rockford.

The Blackhawks rewarded Delia's efforts by keeping him around as long as they could to continue working with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite and learn under the veteran Ward. His time may be coming soon.

"I think that's always the goal, to play at the highest level, so you prepare for that always," Delia told NBC Sports Chicago last week. "It's something that I visualize in my off time. If that's the case, that's great. And if not, I'll still keep developing, still keep progressing because at the end of the day that's really what it's all about, continuing to get better. When it's your time it'll be your time. Just be patient and trust that the organization has your best interest at hand and I think when you have that trust, it's reciprocated with myself and the organization."

What Jonathan Toews is doing during the NHL pause

USA Today

What Jonathan Toews is doing during the NHL pause

Aside from a video message for a 7-year-old fan played on NBC's the Today Show Thursday and news of his $100,000 donation to a COVID-19 response fund, we haven't heard from Jonathan Toews since before the NHL paused on March 12 due to concerns amid the spreading of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blackhawks captain was a guest on Friday's episode of former Hawk John Scott's "Dropping the Gloves" podcast. 

Toews freely spoke on a variety of topics, one of which was how the NHL pause unfolded and how he's passing the time.

"Obviously with the pandemic, out of this whole situation, day-to-day it's kind of crazy," the three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks told his former teammate. "At times I kind of pinch myself a little bit. It's only been a week and a bit that we've been kind of on lockdown and the game just stopped. 

"I think our last game was on a Wednesday at home. I can't remember who we played (6-2 win against the San Jose Sharks), but the next morning, woke up to a text and an email from the great Tony Ommen (Blackhawks Vice President of Team Services), as you know, telling us not to come to the rink. And it was just kind of a blindside because we thought the next step would be games without fans and we just kind of go from there and it just kind of got super serious real quick. 

RELATED — Jonathan Toews gives candid assessment of where the Blackhawks are at

"So honestly, I've just been laying around, recovering, doing some reading, making some phone calls, catching up with friends. I haven't had the chance to go home to Canada yet. I'm not sure if it's even too late for that, but I'm just kid of enjoying being at home. 

"I moved into a new condo here in Lincoln Park since Christmas and I think when you're as busy as we are during the year with the schedule that we have, we were gone pretty much all of January and February, I'm just kind of settling in and doing fun little things that have been on the back burner for quite a while. So that's about it."

RELATED — How coronavirus is impacting John Scott's family and what's ahead for the NHL

Scott also asked Toews about communicating with teammates during the unique situation.

"A lot of it has just been going over some of the stuff that's going on with [the NHLPA], getting updates, obviously chatting with the boys in the team chat and I think a lot of the guys have taken off and gone home, even the European guys too," Toews said. "So it's one of those situations, we don't know what's going to happen and I guess guys will just hang out at home and if we get the call everyone will come rushing back after that."

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Jonathan Toews gives candid assessment of where Blackhawks are at

USA Today

Jonathan Toews gives candid assessment of where Blackhawks are at

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews hadn't spoken with media since before the NHL pause went into effect on March 12 amid concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center appeared on NBC's Today Show Thursday morning to give a special birthday message to a fan. He also donated $100,000 through his foundation to a COVID-19 response fund on Thursday.

Toews appeared on Friday's episode of the Dropping the Gloves podcast hosted by former Hawk John Scott.

He was asked a variety of questions by Scott during the interview that lasted the entire episode, spanning almost 30 minutes. 

At one point, Scott asked Toews to evaluate the Hawks' season with the mindset as if it had already concluded.

"It's tough because I think, number one: our older guys like Kaner and Duncs and Seabs and Crow and myself, I think you kind of get comfortable with your ways and how you do things over the years. So there's definitely been an adjustment for the veteran guys and the guys that are considered leaders as part of the core group in Chicago," Toews said on the podcast.

"I think you definitely have to grow and you have to adapt and part of that has just been kind of reassessing how we lead the team and what our daily approach has been like. Because it's this kind of separation between a lot of the young guys that come in that never played a playoff game before and have to learn a lot of the little things. 

"On the other hand, sometimes, as they say, 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks', so it's hard to get out of your comfort zone and be a little bit more aware of the things that you're doing, be a little bit more aware of the example that you're setting and how you interact with some of these younger guys. 

"So we've definitely had to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and think about all the little details of how we can do things better and how we can lead better. And I think that's a constant process to learn and get better in that sense. 

"But there's been times too where as a team we show a ton of potential and a ton of promise where we can easily go on a three, four, five game win streak and all of a sudden everyone's 'riding the roller coaster', as we say, nice and high and we're looking like a team that can contend in the playoffs, and all of a sudden after that we'll lose another two, three or four straight and the feeling is completely the opposite. So it was kind of a tough season because it was a lot of highs and lows in that sense. Definitely a lot of learning in there through all of this."

RELATED — How coronavirus is impacting John Scott's family and what's ahead for the NHL

The three-time Stanley cup champion with Chicago was also asked about how he's tempered expectations heading into the last couple seasons where the Blackhawks don't have the same caliber group as when they were making long playoff runs.

"You know what John, it's hard because I think in your mind you're constantly pitting whatever you're going through against the experience of winning a Stanley Cup and being on a team where things are clicking and every single guy wants the exact same thing and you don't really have to do . . . the word 'babysitting' sounds wrong, but you're not really worried about every single little detail. You can just do your own thing and go out there and compete every single night. 

"So you got that in the back of your mind and that's the expectation and then on the other hand, you have to be extremely patient because there's baby steps that this team needs to take towards getting back to that level. So at least for myself, I kind of catch myself between, not necessarily being too complacent, but also kind of tempering my expectations, but on the other side, being extremely competitive, saying, 'Why shouldn't we have those really high expectations of ourselves?' 

"And that's where the emotion really comes from sometimes when things don't go my way or our way. It's kind of this balancing act towards having patience knowing that we're working our way back towards getting to that level."

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