Blackhawks

All grown up: Leddy found his niche

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All grown up: Leddy found his niche

Nick Leddy has had to grow up in a hurry. On the ice, anyway.

Just 19 when he made the Blackhawks team last fall, Leddy did a solid job. And coming into this season, with the losses of puck movers Brian Campbell and Chris Campoli, Leddy was expected to pick up a good deal of that slack.

So far hes doing just fine with the new responsibilities.

Leddy has been effective as a puck-moving defenseman and has found his niche as Duncan Keiths partner. He picked up two more assists in the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over Columbus on Saturday night, giving him six points in 10 games this season. Thats one point shy of what he had in 46 games last season.

I like the way he comes up the ice with his speed, in the zone, coach Joel Quenneville said on Saturday night. He made a great poke-check to sustain the play (on Viktor Stalbergs first goal). He has good patience. Hes just one of those players who should keep getting better as he keeps going.

But whether it was last season when he was thrust onto a depth-depleted defensive core or this season with bigger responsibilities, Leddys mindset hasnt changed.

The coaching staff told me to just play my game, he said. So thats what I tried to focus on.

Pairing with Keith helps the progression, too. The duo played together a little at the end of last year, and when Keith talks, Leddy listens.

If Im not doing something he likes or that I can work on, hell let me know, Leddy said. Having him as my partner has helped me learn the little things.

Keith said Leddys adapted to the changes and greater responsibilities well.

I think its just a matter of him getting his feet wet last year and he feels more comfortable last year, Keith said. You can tell with his skating ability. He can do a lot of things out there. Plays the right side, which as a lefty isnt always the easiest side to play. He plays it well and he has a lot of confidence over there, too.

Leddys already had to learn a lot in his young pro career. Hes handling it all well and the Blackhawks are benefiting from it.

You see his speed and physically hes so much more mature than last year, Jonathan Toews said. Confidence-wise hes not afraid to play his own game out there. Hes not worried about Duncs, hes not worried about getting the pucks to anybody. Hes just skating and making plays as he sees fit.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”