Blackhawks

Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

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Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 8:22 p.m. Updated: 10:26 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Joel Quennevilles excitement was palpable even through a conference call.

His Chicago Blackhawks had squandered their chance to get into the playoffs earlier Sunday, but the Minnesota Wild got them back in with their 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars later that night.

Ive never been more excited about a hockey game that Ive never participated in, in my life. I was celebrating like a 5-year-old at a birthday party, Quenneville said a few hours after the Blackhawks claimed the No. 8 seed and a Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks. Its unbelievable. Im shocked, surprised. I cant express my jubilation and excitement.

In the true spirit of this Blackhawks season, even their qualifying for the playoffs wasnt easy. But they got in and now face a Vancouver squad that was head and shoulders above the rest in the West this season.

Games 1 and 2 will be Wednesday and Friday night in Vancouver, 9 p.m. CST starts on both. Games 3 and 4 are April 17 and 19 at the United Center, with 7 p.m. starts. All first-round games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

Quenneville, whose Blackhawks went 2-2-0 vs. Vancouver this season and eliminated them the past two postseasons, said his team has to take advantage of this opportunity.

I know that playing against Vancouver we have to be special. The enthusiasm of making the playoffs is something we need to take going forward, Quenneville said. Anything can happen. We saw last year what happened with Philly at the end of (the regular season). All the teams are comparable, probably even. Lets go find out.

Most of the Blackhawks were probably watching this afternoon, too, when Minnesota helped them. Patrick Sharp told NHL Network on Sunday night said he, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Marty Turco talked about watching the game together but we werent in the best of moods after the Detroit loss.

Sharp was nevertheless thrilled at the outcome.

Im pretty relieved, thats the least I can say, Sharp told NHL Network. Its pretty exciting. You knew Minnesota came ready to play from the first shift and we had a chance.

Now the Blackhawks have another chance. Despite the Blackhawks recent postseason success against the Canucks, this wont be easy. Vancouver rose to the top of the West and stayed there throughout most of this season, weathering injuries and getting great performances throughout their lineup.

The Blackhawks could be getting some welcome news on the injury front, too. Dave Bolland continues to progress from his concussion, and Quenneville said we hope that hes able to be part of the first round of the playoffs and be a part of them early. Troy Brouwer (right shoulder) will travel for Games 1 and 2.

Nobody would like to play in the Vancouver series more than Brouw, Quenneville said. Were hoping he can be.

The Blackhawks got another chance. Theyre familiar with their opponent and what needs to be done at this time of year. The Wild got them in. Its up to them to move on.

The games were very competitive, very intense and the history of that playoff series against a familiar foe creates whole new level of intensity, Quenneville said. Rivalry becomes part of the culture. Lets respect that. Being smart, being intense, being competitive is what we need to be.

Chicago won the first two meetings, including a 2-1 shootout victory on Oct. 20. But Vancouver got on the board thanks to Roberto Luongo's shutout in a 3-0 win on Dec. 3.

The Blackhawks fired 45 shots at Luongo on Feb. 4, but some questionable calls hurt in a 4-3 loss north of the border.

In the season series, Jonathan Toews continued to bring his best against the Canucks with two goals and an assist. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa had three assists. Most of the scoring damage was done in one game, however, the Blackhawks' 7-1 massacre in Vancouver on Nov. 20.

Daniel Sedin scored two goals and assisted on three others against the Blackhawks.

Series schedule

DateTimeLocationTVGame 1: Wed., April 13
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 2: Fri., April 15
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 3: Sun., April 17
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 4: Tue., April 19
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 5: Thu., April 21
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 6: Sun., April 24
6:00 Pregame Live
6:30 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 7: Tue., April 26
TBDat Vancouver
CSN-HD
if necessary

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

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.