Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell still feeling vertigo symptoms

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Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell still feeling vertigo symptoms

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Bryan Bickell said he felt like he was staying with the Blackhawks when he talked at the team convention back in July.

And as Blackhawks training camp begins, he is.

“There’s always rumors and thoughts but I felt comfortable from last year to be a Hawk,” Bickell said after the first day of camp finished at the University of Notre Dame. “You don’t want to leave a team like this where we’ve been through, where I’ve started in this system, as a team.”

[MORE HAWKS: Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks nearing extension]

Bickell said he tried to tune out the rumors over the summer. Now he’ll try to get his health completely back after a frustrating end to the 2014-15 season. Bickell struggled with vertigo as the Stanley Cup Final began against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He reported feeling better at the convention, not long after he had a tooth pulled. But on Friday, he said he’s still feeling the affects of vertigo.

“There [are] still symptoms over the course of different situations but I’m working on it every day to get better and better and hopefully it leaves sooner than later,” said Bickell, who was frustrated when he was sidelined by it last spring. “You just want to be out there. Then [over] the course of the summer you think things are getting better, then you kind of take a couple steps backwards. But I think these last couple weeks we’re taking the right steps and just need to stick with the system that’s working and hopefully it doesn’t have to take a couple steps backwards. Just keep moving forward.”

Part of Bickell’s moving forward means having a stronger season. He’s still looking to match the play he had in the spring of 2013, when a stellar postseason led to his current four-year, $16-million deal.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Bick, I think, is one of those players you’d like to find that consistency in his game. If he puts that all together, he’s that power forward every team craves,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve seen him have good games, good stretches in the playoffs, regular season and in games [he’s had] good moments, but the total package is what we’re looking for. I don’t think anybody has a mulligan to have an ordinary year, in thinking that will be good enough. Everyone should have high standards, consistency; that’s where we want to have him nail it.”

Bickell needs to find that consistency again, especially since the Blackhawks lost several veterans via trade. They need remaining ones to step up and contribute that much more while youngsters/newcomers adjust. As of now, he’s got a chance to do that here.

“Chicago still wants me. And then to be here, to have this moment, I just need to have a great year. This is a crunching year for me to get ready,” Bickell said. “Hopefully I can stay here my whole career. If that was written down on paper, I’d take that for sure.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”