Blackhawks

Blackhawks acquire Morrison from Flames

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Blackhawks acquire Morrison from Flames

OTTAWA, Ontario The Chicago Blackhawks were looking to get some experience at center. Now they have it.

The Blackhawks acquired center Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames on Friday night, in exchange for defenseman Brian Connelly. It was a move that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had been looking at for a while. And its one that gives the team more experience at a position where they dont have a lot of it.

Were not a strong team in terms of NHL experience at center, Bowman said on a conference call Friday night. I like our depth with whats coming (Brandon Pirri, Marcus Kruger). Toews and Bolland are established. And now we have another established, legitimate center.

Bowman added that this move had nothing to do with the fact that Jonathan Toews is injured. He reiterated what coach Joel Quenneville has said all along: Toews injury isnt serious, and Bowman said the captain is targeted to return Tuesday against Vancouver.

The 36-year-old Morrison, who spent eight seasons with the Canucks, will make his Blackhawks debut against them on Tuesday. He has 200 goals and 601 points in his NHL career. More important, the veteran has gone to the playoffs nine times during his career. He said he was ecstatic to join the Blackhawks.

This team has as good a chance as any to compete for the Cup, Morrison said. Im going to come in and be a guy whos a leader when I can and be helpful wherever I can: special teams, 5 on 5, any situation. Im excited about core of this team.

When healthy, Morrison is a dependable player. Hes centered some great wingers, including the Flames Jarome Iginla. Morrison tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last March against the Chicago Blackhawks, and had surgery on it about a month later -- he had the same injury and surgery to the right knee three years prior to that. But Morrison said the knee is fine.

I forced myself back into action sooner than anticipated (early this season). But theres no issue as far as re-injuring the knee. I know its fine, he said. Ive been playing for past few months. Its solid and strong.

Morrison said some Blackhawks were taunting him as he skated off with that injury last March. The culprit was never identified. Morrison said hes not revisiting it.

To me thats a dead issue, he said. Ive turned the page from that. I have no issues with that at all moving forward.

As for more deals, Bowman wouldnt say he was finished. Hes said several times that hes still looking for a defenseman, and that hasnt changed. The trade deadline is Feb. 27, so Bowman still has plenty of time and cap space to get what he wants.

(This move) obviously doesnt impact defense. That hasnt changed, Bowman said. Were still a month away from the deadline. Im not going to rule out anything.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread:

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

When the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick the following year, it was a sign that the dark skies were clearing in Chicago. Things really started to change when Rocky Wirtz took over as chairman following the death of his father Bill in September of 2007, and one of the first decisions he made was to televise all 82 games.

The fans were coming back.

For only the second time in 11 years, the Blackhawks finished above .500 in 2007-08 but missed the playoffs by three points, a season in which Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The following year Joel Quenneville took over as head coach after only three games to provide some coaching experience behind the bench for a young team on the rise. It resulted in a 104-point season and ended in a Conference Finals berth at the hands of the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings in five games.

The Blackhawks were ready to make that step into championship contenders. They just needed someone to put them over the edge.

Enter Marian Hossa.

On July 1 of 2009, he committed to the Blackhawks for 12 years worth $62.8 million. He bought into the long-term vision and wanted to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Was he ever.

In his first game as a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa scored two goals in a 7-2 road victory against San Jose after missing the first month and a half of the season with a shoulder injury. It was at that moment where you saw what kind of powerhouse the Blackhawks could be and would become with a full lineup and future Hall of Fame winger added to a mixture of franchise-changing players scratching the surface.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the 2010 quarterfinals. You know how it goes. Series is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks trail 4-3 late in the third period. Extra attacker is on. How many times have we seen this? The Blackhawks were surely going to find a way to tie it up ... and then Hossa is sent to the box with 1:03 to play in regulation. A five-minute major boarding penalty.

Dagger...

Not so fast. 

Patrick Kane went on to score arguably the biggest goal in Blackhawks history, a shorthanded one that evened it up with 13.6 seconds to go. United Center is up for grabs. But there are still four minutes left to kill off on the penalty once overtime starts, which Hossa once called "the longest four minutes of my life." 

In a span of nine seconds following the penalty kill, Hossa jumped on the ice from the box, darted straight for the net and buried home what was the second-biggest goal in franchise history to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series. Two nights later Hossa assisted on three goals and the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators in their barn.

The rest is history.

Who knows if the Blackhawks rally to win that series if they don't tie it up or win it in overtime. Who knows if they break through the next year. Who knows if that core group even remains together. The course of the franchise could've changed that night.

Instead, Hossa was handed the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career on June 9, 2010 from Jonathan Toews, who couldn't give it to him fast enough after he came up on the losing end in consecutive appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and 2009.

Hossa would add two more titles to his résumé with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, which almost certainly locked up his legacy as one of the all-time greats and his eventual next stop: The Hockey Hall of Fame. The wait was worth it.

"I was hoping to get one coming to Chicago and now I’ve got three," Hossa said following the 2015 Stanley Cup win. "What a feeling." 

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Hossa, who will go down as arguably the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history.

On behalf of the city of Chicago: Thank you, 81.