Blackhawks

Brawls and big goals, Al Secord brought both for the Blackhawks

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Brawls and big goals, Al Secord brought both for the Blackhawks

When Al Secord drove to the net he did it with determination. The former Blackhawks forward was known for combining a scoring touch with toughness and when he got to the net, he was happy to do one or the other.

“If he wasn’t scoring a goal and someone was cross-checking him, he was getting into a fight with that guy,” Troy Murray recalled. “That was the mentality. ‘If I’m going to the front of the net and if you want to try and move me out, I’m going to fight you. I’ll show you you’re not going to be able to do that.’ And for the defenseman who didn’t want to try and move him out, that’s why he scored 40, 50 goals on a regular basis for a couple of years.”

Secord hurt teams with points and punches. In the 1981-82 season he recorded 44 goals and 303 penalty minutes; the next season he had 53 goals and 180 minutes. He was a great compliment to line mates Denis Savard and Steve Larmer in his playing days and on Sunday night he was the latest to be honored by the Blackhawks’ One More Shift.

In his playing days Secord, who Murray called, “the ultimate team guy,” was all about having the right level of dislike for the enemy. So much so that if he saw opposing players at a bar, be it on the road or at home, he wouldn’t go into that establishment.

“I never wanted to get to know the opposing side and I remember hearing that from Gordie Howe, actually, watching him as a kid,” Secord said. “It’s true. I’m the type of guy, if I become your friend, it’s much more difficult to do your job.”

As much as Secord enjoyed his first career he’s loving his second one, too. Secord has been a pilot with American Airlines for many years now – he’s been a captain for the past two years – and he plans on doing it for at least a few more years.

“Not that I’m a control freak but you are in more control and you can control the atmosphere,” Secord said with a laugh. “I work with so many enjoyable people and there are 50 ways to do the same job. We just have a serious attitude as far as getting the job done but we make it a pleasant atmosphere. So I really like it. Right now the [retirement] age is 65 so I potentially have another five years plus to keep the job. We’ll see how that works out.”

Secord is firmly ensconced in his current career, which has been very rewarding. But many will always remember him as the Blackhawks forward who, one way or another, was going to punish you.

“He was the prototypical forward you wanted to have who could score goals and would do anything he needed to do to defend his team,” Murray said. “I loved him as a teammate. To me Al will go down as one of the toughest guys the Blackhawks had in the history of their franchise and one of the best goal-scorers, too.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on Friday:

1. Blackhawks can't solve Cal Petersen

With Jonathan Quick (knee), Jack Campbell (knee) and Peter Budaj (sick) out, the Kings trotted out former Notre Dame standout Petersen to make his first career NHL start between the pipes. And he didn't disappoint.

The 24-year-old stopped 34 of 35 shots (.971 save percentage) in 65 minutes of play and denied Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the shootout to earn his first victory in the big leagues.

"He was good, yeah," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The third period was more like it. If we’d had 60 minutes [like that] maybe we break him down eventually. He did well, he did a good job. I thought we had a little more traffic, got some more pucks to the net. That was better. But you can’t help but think if we’d have had that push earlier, then we’d get paid off for it."

2. Line changes serve as third-period spark

After failing to generate many scoring chances in the first two periods, Jeremy Colliton spruced up his top-six by putting Brandon Saad with Kane and Toews and Nick Schmaltz with Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov. They saw the benefits almost immediately.

Saad scored 2:39 into the final frame after burying a feed at the doorstep by Toews for his third goal in six games, tying the game at 1-1.

'We showed some resiliency battling in the third," Saad said. "It was definitely a slow start. We've got to play a full 60 minutes to win hockey games, but I think it shows some character how we can battle back in the third. And then overtime we had some chances and some puck possession, and when it comes down to a shootout it can be anyone's game. But the message for us is to play a full 60, because when we play well you can see that we have opportunities and a better chance to win the hockey game."

3. Power play comes up empty

Special teams was the deciding factor in the Blackhawks' last two games. They gave up two power-play goals in 66 seconds against Carolina on Monday and then beat St. Louis 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to a power-play goal of their own.

The Blackhawks had three power-play opportunities against the Kings, and all three of them came in the second period. They recorded a combined six shots on goal during them, but reverted back to some old habits by waiting for the open shot and lacking net-front presence.

"You get three in the second, it would be nice to get one," Kane said. "Even if you're not getting anything on it, it's nice to get momentum off of it. I thought we did a decent job of getting momentum, getting some chances and some looks. Sometimes you've just got to converge on the net and hopefully get those rebounds and try to find a way to get one a little bit dirtier."

The Blackhawks also allowed a breakaway chance towards the end of the third power play, but Corey Crawford saved the day. Tyler Toffoli scored 19 seconds after the Blackhawks' first power play to make it 1-0 Kings.

4. Meet your newest Blackhawk

The Blackhawks had a visitor at morning skate in Carter Holmes, an 11-year-old from Wisconsin, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As part of the Make-A-Wish Experience, Holmes became a Blackhawk for a day and practiced with the team, including his favorite player Patrick Kane.

"I might have to change my number," Kane joked about Holmes, who wears No. 88 because of Kane. "I think he was a little bit better than me out there today."

It was the first time Holmes skated since being diagnosed on June 30, four days after his team took first place at a tournament. Holmes feared that he would never be able to play hockey again, but that won't be the close. He's expected to re-join his teammates soon, even if it may take a while to get back into game shape.

"It's pretty special," Kane said of Holmes, who will drop the ceremonial first puck on Sunday for "Hockey Fights Cancer" Night at the United Center. "Sometimes you're just playing hockey and worried about the business aspect of it, but days like today you can take a step back and realize there's more important things out there."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

SportsTalk Live is on location at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. Charlie Roumeliotis, Jay Cohen and Jimmy Greenfield join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

0:00- Pat Boyle stops by to talk about the start of the Jeremy Colliton era and to preview the huge Sunday Night showdown between the Bears and Vikings.

19:00- Adam Burish joins the panel to preview the Blackhawks and Kings and to talk about how the Hawks players are reacting to a 33-year old head coach.

Listen to the full epiosde here or via the embedded player below: 

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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