Blackhawks

Blackhawks GM Bowman backs Duncan Keith's decision

Blackhawks GM Bowman backs Duncan Keith's decision

Duncan Keith took himself out of the World Cup of Hockey because he wanted to concentrate on recuperating his surgically repaired knee. And Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was fine with the defenseman’s decision.

“It was something he felt he wouldn’t be able to perform to the level that he needs to in a tournament like this,” Bowman told reporters at the World Cup’s media day on Thursday. “Our job in that is to support whatever – he’s the one that’s got to get on the ice, so if he didn’t feel he was able to do that, then you have to respect that.”

Bowman, speaking at the World Cup of Hockey’s media day on Thursday, talked about Keith, who was selected for Team Canada last spring. But on Aug. 24 Keith opted out of World Cup, choosing to continue rehabbing his right knee. Keith had had surgery on the knee last October. The Blackhawks released a statement that day, saying, “we believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury.”

Keith is on the Blackhawks’ training camp roster, but whether or not he’s ready to participate immediately at camp is unknown. Bowman, who is assistant GM for Team North America during the World Cup, said he hasn’t talked to Keith about it yet.

“But he’s doing better. I think time will tell,” Bowman said. “I haven’t spoken to him. We’ve been here with this team for the last couple weeks. I haven’t heard any bad news in terms of that. I think it’s going to be one of those things we’ll get a better feel for that when we’re back at the end of this tournament. We’ll get some updates on his performance. But no, we didn’t pressure him not to play. It was more the way he felt, and I guess he just decided it wasn’t going to work for him.”

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.”