Blackhawks

Andrew Desjardins signs two-year contract with Blackhawks

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Andrew Desjardins signs two-year contract with Blackhawks

It didn’t take Andrew Desjardins long to mesh with the Blackhawks. The trade-deadline acquisition reached a great comfort level with the team immediately and found his niche on the Blackhawks’ fourth line.

And those are big reasons why Desjardins chose to return for two more years.

Desjardins signed a two-year extension on Friday morning; Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported the deal carried a cap hit of $800,000 per season. The forward garnered interest from other teams but for Desjardins, the chance to stay with Chicago wasn’t worth passing up.

[MORE: Blackhawks agree to terms with defensemen Schilling, Liambas]

“Obviously the key thing is we loved it there, our entire family,” said Desjardins via conference call. “It came down to just that, you know? How much we enjoyed the city, how much we enjoyed the organization. It was a great experience and that kind of made it an easy decision for us.”

General manager Stan Bowman said on June 19 that he wanted to get Desjardins back, if possible.

“It was a nice surprise how Desjardins came in and played a huge role for us. He played a bigger role than we probably expected,” Bowman said. “You look at the minutes he gave us down the stretch, it’s maybe something you couldn’t have predicted.”

Desjardins came to the Blackhawks from the San Jose Sharks, in exchange for Ben Smith, on March 2. The move was met with little notice; more attention went to the Blackhawks’ acquiring Antoine Vermette the previous weekend. But Desjardins proved a great piece to the Blackhawks’ puzzle, and it didn’t take him long to fit into the team’s system.

“I would say about 7-10 games into playing I started to feel more comfortable. It felt like it was a pretty quick transition,” Desjardins said. “The guys were great as far as how welcoming they were and the trust happened pretty quick with the coaching, so it was a pretty easy transition.”

Coach Joel Quenneville found the right fourth-line combination when he put Desjardins with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. When Quenneville trusts a group he gives it more responsibility, and he did that with this trio (see Game 6 against Anaheim, when those three were on the ice in the waning moments of a must-win game). The three found chemistry quickly.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“It’s still one of those things you never really know why it worked so well,” Desjardins said. “[It’s] just being on the same page. I think we all understood what we had to do out there and I think we pushed each other to do the right things. We always had each other’s backs, not in the physical sense but in the game. We always supported each other really well. It’s hard to say sometimes what creates that chemistry but [it’s] just doing the right things and we were all on the same page.”

The Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do this offseason, especially when it comes to shedding salary. But they’ve made some solid additions; Desjardins is the latest.

“It was huge to win and obviously that helped the decision [to return to Chicago.] But again, it’s… how much we loved it in Chicago, loved the guys in the room, really enjoyed the coaching stuff and everything about the organization,” Desjardins said. “That was the biggest factor.”

 

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

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