Blackhawks

Blackhawks excited to reunite with rivals

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Blackhawks excited to reunite with rivals

Dave Bolland walked into the Blackhawks locker room with a grin on his face. Its a game against Vancouver tonight, a date that Bolland probably circled on the calendar.

I love this day. I think the guys always love this day, too, Bolland said. Were playing Vancouver, its a great rivalry and its going to be a hard, tough game.

The Blackhawks will be without Duncan Keith (left hand) again tonight, but that wont quell the buzz that always surrounds a Blackhawks-Canucks tilt. Its a rivalry that was born in the playoffs and bolstered every time they meet, be it regular- or postseason.

There are some games over an 82-game schedule that just feel like another game. This is the exact opposite of that, captain Jonathan Toews said. Ive said it multiple times. Theres a lot of motivation in a game like this.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks lineup will be comparable to what it was against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canucks, meanwhile, will be without Sami Salo (groin) and Alex Burrows (back) tonight. Aaron Rome (finger) is a game-time decision.

The motivation for the Blackhawks is to keep doing what they have been over the first month of the season. The Blackhawks have been rolling right along, getting points in all but two games. But with the Canucks, theres always that extra incentive, whether youve been with the Blackhawks for years or you just got here.

People around the league get the sentiment, Toews said. The new guys have done a great job of just coming in here and playing and doing their job and being a part of this team. Im sure everyone is very aware of the rivalry between the two and were prepared to play our best game.

For the Canucks, its a little different right now. They bested the Blackhawks in seven games last season but theyre not thinking too much about that right now. The Canucks have struggled out of the gate and have lost four of their last six. So its not so much about beating Chicago as it is getting points.

(The Game 7 victory) seems like a long time ago now, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. It was a really good game at the time, one of the biggest arguably in franchise history. It felt like we won the Cup after we won that game. But thats in the past now. Its not going to help us tonight.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”