Blackhawks

Sheldon Brookbank on transition from former Blackhawks teammate to assistant coach

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AP

Sheldon Brookbank on transition from former Blackhawks teammate to assistant coach

Sheldon Brookbank is no stranger to the Blackhawks organization. He spent two seasons in Chicago to wrap up his playing career, won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2013 and was named an assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

On Friday, Brookbank was promoted to assistant coach on Jeremy Colliton's staff with the big club after the two were behind the same bench last season and the start of this year in Rockford.

"I’m excited for the opportunity," Brookbank said. "Big thanks to the Blackhawks for bringing me back here. But I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of guys I know on the roster, guys I’ve worked with in Rockford, so I have that level of familiarity with them so I think that will help. Just taking it one day at a time, getting my feet wet and get things going here."

The plan was always to bring Brookbank up with the Blackhawks. Colliton wanted him here from the beginning, but losing two coaches in Rockford at the same time would have put the AHL affiliate in a tough spot.

Together again in Chicago, Colliton is hoping to pick up where they left off and believes Brookbank's background alone adds a valuable element to the Blackhawks staff.

"I didn't know him before," Colliton said. "Hired him in Rockford and after working with him for a year just, first of all tremendous person and cares a lot about the team and the players. Has a varied background in his playing career. Came the back way to the NHL and turned it into 400 games and a Stanley Cup. Played in a bunch of different leagues ... and he's been to Europe, too, which I think is a positive. It makes him really valuable in a lot of different ways. I think he can do many different things, so nice to add him to our staff."

Having been a coach for a season and a half already, Brookbank is past the point where he's adjusting from player to coach. Although, as a defenseman known for being an agitator and sticking up for his teammates, he does occassionally have to remind himself on the bench that he isn't wearing a helmet anymore in certain situations.

"Honestly, it’s sometimes when guys are on the ice or acting up, you don’t have a hand in it anymore," Brookbank said. "You get a little fired up on the bench just watching guys stick guys on your team, and it’s out of your hands. I know that’s kind of a simple thing, but you realize you’re more of a coach now and you let the players do what they do and you keep your cool back there."

The biggest thing now is getting used to the transition of being a former Blackhawks teammate to their assistant coach.

Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews were all teammates with Brookbank on the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning team. There's a balance and fine line now between being "one of the guys" and earning their respect as a coach.

But the 38-year-old assistant feels that gives him more of an advantage in his specific role, playing the middle man between the players and head coach. And that's what every team needs.

"There’s definitely a difference between being a coach and a teammate," Brookbank said. "But it helps that I have a relationship with those guys, just with the communication factor. The job for assistant coaches is to be this sort of in-between for the coaching staff and the players. I feel I have a leg up in that sense, that I know some of these guys already and I can talk to them, and have a lot of respect for them. I think it’ll help, having that relationship already."

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Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

What will it take for the Chicago Blackhawks to earn a playoff spot with 10 games remaining? Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss where the Blackhawks stand after a rough 3-2 loss in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

With Corey Crawford at the top of his game again, should the Blackhawks try to ride him into the playoffs? How have Jeremy Colliton’s line changes impacted Patrick Kane’s game? Plus, breakouts from Eric Gustafsson and Brendan Perlini have been huge for the Blackhawks during their recent streak of six straight games with a point. 

0:45 - Missed opportunity for Blackhawks against Canucks

2:45 – Hawks changing up lines has slowed down Patrick Kane

5:45 – Should the Blackhawks ride Corey Crawford while he’s hot?

8:00 – Hawks will need 13-15 points in final 10 games to get playoff spot

10:30 – Brendan Perlini has finally figured it out for Hawks

12:35 – Eric Gustafsson’s breakout year has been vital to Hawks success

15:35 – Dylan Sikura still hasn’t scored, but he’s been all over the ice

18:50 – Prediction time…will the Hawks make the playoffs?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Monday:

1. Manufacturing a point

The Blackhawks had a good opportunity on the table. After Arizona lost, they could've pulled within three points of a wildcard spot with a game in hand if they pulled out a victory.

Instead, they settled for the one point, which was obviously important because it moved them within two games. But they weren't satisfied with their effort, especially against a Canucks team that was on the second of a back-to-back and started their 23-year-old rookie goaltender who had only five career NHL starts going into the game.

"We had a chance to jump on ‘em, try to wear them down early and take control of the game and just let them hang around," said Jonathan Toews, who's now three goals away from tying his career high of 34 set during the 2008-09 season. "We didn’t have the speed and pace we needed early on. Obviously it’s nice to get that point. But tough finish."

2. The pros and cons

There's good news and bad news regarding the effort the Blackhawks turned in.

The good news? The defense was solid, allowing only nine total high danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, after giving up 24 to Montreal and 18 to Toronto.

The bad news? The offense generated just six of their own and were held to two goals, which is below their season average of 3.35 per game. There weren't many high quality opportunities. But the Canucks took advantage of theirs and the Blackhawks didn't until late.

"We didn’t come out hard enough," Erik Gustafsson said. "We know they’re playing back to back and we talked about it before. We needed to come out much harder today. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point. But we need two now. It’s not fun."

3. Playing down to opponents?

The Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. Every point matters, no matter who the opponent is. But lately they haven't been bringing their A-game against teams below them in the standings. They lost to Los Angeles, barely escaped Anaheim and were fortunate to pick up a point against the Canucks.

Is that a trend or just a blip?

"There's been nights where we've played down, for sure," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I don't know if that's a consistent thing, but obviously there's been some instances where we would've liked to play better against teams we're ahead of in the standings. But we also had a pretty good run there in January where we were beating teams that we needed to beat and that's why we're here. We didn't have it tonight, but we did manufacture a point and gotta just use the two days to reload here and get back at it."

4. Patrick Kane hits century mark

For the second time in his NHL career, Kane has hit the 100-point mark. It was only a matter of when, not if. And after going pointless in Montreal, he didn't have to wait too much longer to do it. 

With a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal in the first period, Kane became the third player in franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Jeremy Roenick (three times) and Denis Savard (five). He also became the fifth American-born player to accomplish that feat.

Kane joins Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton's Connor McDavid as the first three players to reach 100 points this season. Kane's career high is 106, set during the 2015-16 campaign when he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. And with 10 games remaining, there's a good chance he breaks that, too.