Blackhawks

Blachawks: Richards, Timonen sparked by postseason potential

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Blachawks: Richards, Timonen sparked by postseason potential

NASHVILLE — Brad Richards talked of the “second season,” as it were, that time of year that reignites the spark that can sometimes flicker in a draggy, 82-game season.

“I can tell you all year how excited I was to play games in October,” he said. “But when I signed in July I was thinking about this.”

“This” is the postseason. “This” is what so many players aspire to get to, and what the Blackhawks have gotten to for seven consecutive seasons. It’s exciting for every player. It’s even more exciting for those like Richards and Kimmo Timonen, who, either via free agency or trade, looked at the Blackhawks as their next great opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.

“I still feel we have really good chance to do something well here,” said Timonen, who is chasing his first Cup. “We all know it’s a long process. It’s not something we can do quickly. But this team has as good a chance as anyone else. I’ve seen clips when this team plays really well; we are hard to beat. In the playoffs it’ll be tight. But I have a lot of confidence we can do it.”

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Timonen missed the last three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury sustained against the St. Louis Blues. But coach Joel Quenneville said Timonen be healthy and available to play during the postseason. The veteran defenseman is here for one reason: he wants to win a Cup. It’s the one thing that kept him motivated as he battled blood clots, which were discovered last summer and kept him off the ice until February.

Going back to Nashville, where he played for several seasons, is extra motivation.

“It gives me some extra energy, extra excitement,” he said. “I was there eight years and I was a captain one season. I had a good time there, played a lot of games there. Excitement is building and it’s a good sign. That’s what we do this sport for, and I’m sure everyone’s feeling the same way.”

For Timonen, this is it. Whether he wins that elusive Cup or not, he said he’s retiring at the end of this season. Richards has several years’ worth of hockey in front of him, although it’s likely one-and-done with the Blackhawks. The motivation’s there nonetheless. This is the fun part of the season, the time every player strives to get to.

[MORE HAWKS: Can Versteeg-Kane-Richards line work again?]

“You go through the process, go through the grind – especially since I signed two weeks after losing in the Cup Final. So you’re really hungry and want to get back into the battle,” Richards said. “Starting Wednesday night, that makes it worth the whole process. I have as good a chance as anyone with this team to win.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

Gabe Ramirez, Vinnie Duber, and Jay Cohen join Kap on the panel to discuss game two of Cubs vs. Braves and the battle of the Soxes.

Plus with the start of free agency coming up, what will be Stan Bowman's next move?

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Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan knew that the Carolina Hurricanes had a logjam on defense going into this summer and that somebody was going to be dealt to create a spot. The move was also driven by financial reasons as the Hurricanes look to re-sign a handful of players, most notably Sebastian Aho.

He just wasn't expecting it to be his name on the move.

"I'm still kind of in shock, to be honest," de Haan said on Tuesday's conference call. "I didn’t think it was going to be me. After Carolina signed me last summer my fiancée and I thought we were going to have some roots there, but I get it, it’s a business. Looking back on it now, it’s only been 16 hours or whatever, but it’s been a whirlwind. I’m really looking forward to it now. Obviously Stan [Bowman] and the Blackhawks made a deal for me and I feel like I’m wanted and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with this organization."

De Haan, who signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with Carolina last offseason, admitted that the Blackhawks didn't show any interest in him when he was an unrestricted free agent. But he's excited about being in an organization that values his services, and the feeling is mutual because he's filling an immediate need on the back end for the Blackhawks: a player who can log big minutes, is a sound stay-at-home defenseman and can play an effective role on the penalty kill.

Jeremy Colliton, who was the captain for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers during de Haan's rookie season in the pros from 2011-12, will certainly appreciate what his former teammate brings to the table.

"I just like to think my position’s good," de Haan said of his game. "I like to think I move well on the ice. I’ve always tried to play a simple game. I saw some tweets yesterday that I might be the next best thing to Nik Hjalmarsson that the Blackhawks have had in a while, so that’s a compliment. That guy’s had a great career and that’s a player I like to play like. Nothing flashy, just kind of get the job done and I hope Blackhawk fans will really appreciate my game. It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season."  

De Haan underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in May — exactly five weeks from Tuesday — and was given a four-to-six month timeline, putting his availability for training camp and the season opener in jeopardy. But he's hoping to be cleared by the time training camp rolls around in September and be ready to go for the season opener on Oct. 4 in Prague.

"Things are progressing well," de Haan said. "I like to think I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve had shoulder surgeries in the past as well where I know how this goes and I’m gonna make sure I’m ready for camp. Then it’s going to be up to the training staff and the doctors whether they want me to play or take a few weeks here and there and just progress slowly. But my main goal is to be ready for camp. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. I want to be on the ice with the guys and out there grinding away and try to get the team back in the playoffs."

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