Blackhawks

Brian Campbell joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Brian Campbell joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

When considering transcendent free agent signings in Chicago Blackhawks history, Marian Hossa is usually the first player to come to mind. But Brian Campbell’s arrival to Chicago’s West Side in the summer of 2008 signaled to the rest of the NHL that the Blackhawks were not only a desirable team to play for, but that their front office meant business in fielding a competitive hockey club.

“It was always Chicago came back into the picture of a place that I could see myself be,” Campbell said in his introductory press conference. “There’s expectations within the locker room and I think it’s going to be like that right from the get-go. It’s not about making the playoffs, it’s about getting the whole prize.”

After prying him away from the San Jose Sharks, Campbell helped lead the Blackhawks to the Western Conference finals in his first year in Chicago, and assisted in grooming young defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook into the dominant top pairing they eventually became. The next season, the Blackhawks snapped a 49-year Stanley Cup drought, with Campbell assisting on the series-clinching goal in Game 6, passing it off to Patrick Kane before he slid the puck under Michael Leighton and sent the Hawks bench into a frenzy.

After three strong seasons with Chicago, the Blackhawks moved him to the Florida Panthers. But he gone for long.

In 2016, Campbell re-signed with the Blackhawks on a one-year contract, taking a “hometown discount” in an attempt at one last hoorah in Chicago. Campbell had a strong season in a smaller role behind Keith, Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but the Blackhawks, the Western Conference’s top seed, fell short in the first round to the surging Nashville Predators.

Campbell spent four seasons in Chicago, totaling 134 points in 295 games with the Blackhawks. In July of 2017, when Campbell hung up the skates for good, he took a job in the franchise’s front office and reiterated one last time how impactful the Blackhawks organization – and the city of Chicago – was to his career.

“Today, we call Chicago home. We’ve embraced the Chicago culture,” said an emotional Campbell during his retirement announcement. “We love this town and we are proud to say our family is a Blackhawks family.”

Campbell played in more games for both the Sabres and Panthers in his 17-year NHL career, but that 2010 Stanley Cup championship made him a Blackhawk for life. He is the third player, and first defenseman, to join the Blackhawks All-Decade Team.

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Blackhawks are one of NHL's hottest teams, but have they turned a corner?

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USA Today

Blackhawks are one of NHL's hottest teams, but have they turned a corner?

For the first two and a half months of the season, the Blackhawks were battling through major inconsistency issues. They had won more than two games in a row just once and lost at least three straight five times.

And yet somehow, the Blackhawks still found themselves afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. 

But the tide has finally started to turn.

Since Dec. 15, the Blackhawks are 12-5-0 and have the fourth-most standings points in the NHL over that span with 24. They’ve also won a season-long five consecutive games and have a plus-13 goal differential during their winning streak.

Now, there are certainly some statistical trends that are unsustainable over the long term that could result in a market correction. Their on-ice shooting percentage (13.0) and save percentage (94.7) at 5-on-5 play during their winning streak is a combined 107.7, which is the second-highest in the league over that stretch.

But the Blackhawks are playing a brand of hockey that will win them games more often than not going forward: The top guys are producing, the depth scoring is there, the defensive structure has tightened up and the goaltending remains strong.

"No question,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he feels this type of performance will continue to lead to positive results. “We are being rewarded. There's no reason to get away from it. It's paying off and the more it gets into our mentality and our identity that this is who we are, and we'll do this no matter what, it's a habit and you don't think twice about it. We still need to work at preparing to approach the game that way, but when we do it's easier for you and you'll set up your teammates as well."

Perhaps the most notable part of the winning streak is the fact the Blackhawks look like a team that's on the same page after making an in-season schematic adjustment in November, on top of dealing with an array of key injuries. The Blackhawks stayed the course and aren't wavering from their game which we saw them do earlier in the season, whether they're playing with a lead or a deficit. 

Take Sunday's 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets as an example. The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, gave up a late goal in the second period that cut their lead to 2-1, but punched back in the third period by scoring twice to pull ahead 4-1, which iced the game.

One month ago, the Blackhawks would probably find a way to squander that two-goal lead. That hasn't been the case over the last month and the Blackhawks are hoping this becomes part of their DNA.

"We're finally starting to full buy-in to the system," Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner said. "Full effort level, doing the right things at the right times. ... Everyone's just doing their job, and we're starting to feel [that] doing those things gets you rewarded and everyone keeps doing it. We're doing well, but we've just got to keep doing it because every point is crucial."

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Jonathan Toews named NHL's Third Star of the week

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews named NHL's Third Star of the week

The Blackhawks (24-20-6, 54 points) are on fire, having won five straight games to vault them back into the Western Conference playoff picture.

Jonathan Toews has been key to that stretch, and on Monday, he was recognized for his recent stellar play by being named the NHL's Third Star of the week. Alex Ovechkin and Elvis Merzlikins nabbed the top two spots:

In four games between Jan. 14 and Jan. 19 (all Blackhawks wins, of course), Toews led the NHL in points with nine (three goals, six assists). And none of them were empty. Among myriad highlights was this game-winning slingshot to beat the Senators 3-2 in overtime to kick off the week (the 15th overtime game-winner of his career):

His two-goal, two-assist outing against the Maple Leaf days later was pretty fun, too:

Toews rides a six-game point streak into Tuesday night's bout with the Florida Panthers. If he extends it, he'll become the sixth player in Blackhawks history to reach 800 career points. 

The milestones and accolades are piling up for The Captain and, crucially, they're translating in the win column for the Blackhawks.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.