Blackhawks

Bickell has wrist surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

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Bickell has wrist surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 5:34 p.m. Updated: 8:46 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Blackhawks have ridden the roller-coaster of teammate emotions during this series against the Vancouver Canucks. Theyve experienced euphoria when Dave Bolland returned for Game 4. They dealt with frustration and anger at the two-game loss of Brent Seabrook. And now theyre taking a downturn on that ride again.

Bryan Bickell underwent surgery today to repair a lacerated tendon in his wrist that he suffered in Game 2, Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement today. Bickell, who according to the statement just wanted to play as much as he could before the inevitable surgery, will fully recover in 6-8 weeks.

Its just one more thing for the Blackhawks, who got into the playoffs thanks to Minnesota, struggled without the checking and stabilizing abilities of Bolland and played inspired hockey without Seabrook. Bickell has brought his own strong outings to these playoffs, as hes been part of that successful checking (and scoring) line with Bolland and Michael Frolik.

Oh yeah, and then theres a Game 7 and a likely very angry Vancouver Canucks team to contend with on Tuesday night. Half this team went through the Stanley Cup playoff fire last season. Consider this one more test for them and the new Blackhawks, some of whom have caught up quickly in these playoffs.

So what do the Blackhawks do now? Theyll have to take the approach they have these last three games, regardless of who has or hasnt been in the lineup: its another elimination game, theyre a man down and they need everyone to contribute and play their best road game of this series.

The Blackhawks did that in Game 5. From Duncan Keiths monster night on one end of the ice to Corey Crawfords 36 stops at the other, the Blackhawks were focused. They need that again.

We think all year long weve been effective on the road, Quenneville said following Sundays Game 6 overtime victory that forced this Game 7. We want to sustain it, keep it. We expect a fun building.

One mans fun building is anothers hostile environment with a very angry team on the other side. The Canucks played arguably their best game of the series on Sunday and barely lost. Despite all the talk of mind blocks and unknown starting goaltenders, the Canucks are going to come out angry, determined and opportunistic. The Blackhawks cant expect anything less.

The Blackhawks won on Sunday despite their top players once again going quiet. Their top line was Bollands, which supplied three regulation goals. Rookie Ben Smith, who now has three goals this postseason as many as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp combined was the surprising overtime hero. Coaches always welcome checking-line scoring. Its a bonus. But he needs his top lines to do it.

The legs have to be there, too. Henrik Sedin said after Game 6 that the Blackhawks were tired. Considering the Hawks third and overtime, he may be onto something. Facing one-goal deficits a couple times on Sunday, the Blackhawks forwards got a lot of work. Some were double-shifting. John Scott, thrown on the fourth line to keep the peace, played just one minute.

Now theyre minus another forward and someone will have to step in with Bolland and Frolik. Those two still have great chemistry and they should probably stay together at this point.

The Blackhawks have already had to deal with some things in this series. A good deal of it was self-inflicted, with their going down 0-3 to the No. 1 Canucks. Still, theyve worked regulars back into the lineup, worked around injuries and worked their way back. Theyre on the verge of making history, becoming this seasons Philadephia Flyers. Theyve dug down deep once or twice already. Theyll have to do it at least one more time.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Why Ryan Hartman is betting on himself going into another contract year with Predators

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USA TODAY

Why Ryan Hartman is betting on himself going into another contract year with Predators

Ryan Hartman has been through this before. Back in December of 2012, he sustained a torn labrum in his right shoulder but played through it because the Plymouth Whalers were in the middle of a playoff run. He waited until the offseason to have it surgically repaired and was cleared for contact just in time for him to attend his first training camp with the Blackhawks in September of 2013.

This time was a little different though.

Hartman had been acquired by the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline in exchange for prospect Victor Ejdsell and a 2018 first- and fourth-round pick — a hefty price to pay — in hopes of serving as an additional spark plug for a Predators team looking to load up for a second consecutive Stanley Cup run.

So when Hartman was brushed by Nathan MacKinnon along the boards, lost his footing and fell on his left shoulder late in Game 4 of the first round against Colorado, he immediately knew something was up.

"It didn't feel great at all," said Hartman, who went straight to the dressing room and had team doctors pop it back into place. "I finished the game and was able to finish playoffs in like a modified sling, which sucked to play with, but it's playoffs. It's one of those things where there are many guys playing through injuries and I was one of them."

Hartman, who's been rehabbing and training in Chicago, received the green light to fully participate in hockey-related drills last Monday but was advised to delay his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut for one more week just to err on the side of caution. On Wednesday, he got back into a game-type setting and "felt good" after 50 minutes of action going up against former teammates Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane.

Now he can fully focus on this upcoming season and amp up his on-ice training to a level he couldn't get to while recovering from shoulder surgery with training camp a month away.

Hartman was a restricted free agent this summer and recently re-signed with the Predators on a one-year deal worth $875,000. Clearly, he's betting on himself to bounce back to his rookie year form when he scored 19 goals and cash out on a larger paycheck down the line, even though he had multiple longer-term offers from the Predators.

"Yeah we talked, [GM David Poile] wants me to be there, I want to be there, we have a good relationship," Hartman said. "Obviously, he gave up a lot of stuff to take me and sees me in the future of the team and I see myself there too. There's a lot of little things that go into negotiations — if it's money wise or length — and there was a various amount [of offers] that was thrown out on both sides. With no [arbitration] rights, the best thing for me and my team was to bet on myself, take the year and go from there next year."

With that comes the pressure of having to earn another contract for the second straight year, which is also risky considering he's coming off an injury that sidelined him all summer. But that's just the way he wants it.

"Either way I want to play my best, if I have a contract or not for long-term," Hartman said. "There is the benefit of having security with long-term deals, but you see guys, in history, that sign these deals and maybe have a year or two of, not really being complacent, but just feeling satisfied. I don't like the feeling of being satisfied. I'm not saying that's why I took that contract over another contract, but it was a good month and a half of debating one of the other three [offers]. My family and my agent, we chose this was the best for me and the team as well."

It's easy to see why the Predators are happy with this deal, too. Hartman is better suited to play in a bottom-six role on a really good team but has the ability to play in the top-six if needed. A strong season out of him and they'll be happy to reward him with a longer-term offer next summer. It also means he'd be making an impact while making less than $1 million, and every contending team needs those contributions from their depth players.

Pull up the Predators' CapFriendly page and you'll notice generous contract after generous contract for a majority of their players, particularly their core group. Look no further than Ryan Ellis, who signed an eight-year extension on Tuesday that carries a cap hit of $6.25 million. He certainly left money on the table but elected to take less to follow the lead of everyone else in Nashville because the ultimate goal is to keep the band together.

"You look at Sidney Crosby, one of the best players in the league, isn't even making close to the most money in the league and that's a reason why they've won two Cups," Hartman said. "They have space, maybe not necessarily as much as the Preds do, but Poile's good at that, he's good at stressing winning, the importance of winning, and keeping a team together. Sometimes when you go year to year losing four or five players every summer, it takes a toll having to introduce yourself to new guys all the time. Keeping the same group is really beneficial."

The Predators won't have to do much introducing next month. They're essentially rolling back the same team that arguably would've reached the Stanley Cup Final if they had gotten past the Winnipeg Jets. Hartman will be an important part of that group, only this time he'll be there from the start.

"That's what I'm really excited for," he said. "It's tough coming in [halfway through the season], it kind of feels like ... it's your first time getting called up with the new team. You're adjusting, you're trying not to make a mistake, trying to earn a spot, per se, earn the respect of your peers, so having that and going through a playoff run and a Game 7, if you go through a Game 7 with anybody, it's a bond. The stuff you fight through and you play for each other, to be able to go through a training camp and the ups and downs throughout the whole season, it's going to be exciting. I fell in love with the group for the short time I was there and I'm excited to be there at the start of training camp."

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Starting a dynasty means you have to identify a group of core players to build your team around. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were those guys, along with Marian Hossa, who joined that mix later on.

You also need a mixture of young talent and strong veterans to fill out the depth to become successful. That's exactly what the Blackhawks had at the beginning of their dynasty and throughout.

On the first day of NHL free agency in 2008, the Blackhawks inked All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year deal, which solidified Chicago as a destination players wanted to commit to long term. That same year, Kris Versteeg emerged as the Blackhawks' third Calder Trophy candidate in two years, Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd set a career high in points with 77 and 49, respectively, while youngsters Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien began to make a name for themselves as valuable pieces to the puzzle.

"Real good group of guys," Joel Quenneville said on Oct. 18, 2008. "I can say that it's the first time I walked in the room where, wow, I was impressed."

Six of the Blackhawks' Top 10 scorers in 2008-09 were aged 23 or younger. The average age for the other four? 27. The youth movement was real and they all contributed in a big way.