Blackhawks

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wanted veteran presence for stretch run

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wanted veteran presence for stretch run

General manager Stan Bowman looked happy on Thursday night when he got Andrew Ladd back into the fold. He looked pretty happy again on Saturday.

“I slept a little better last night,” Bowman said this morning.

The Blackhawks wanted to bolster their bottom two lines, and Bowman hopes he’s done that in trading for Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montreal Canadiens. While the Blackhawks have been ultra successful this season, they’ve done it with their top, third and fourth line struggling to find lengthy consistency. Ladd was acquired to help that first line. Bowman hopes Weise and Fleischmann do the same for the third and fourth.

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from Montreal]

“That was the prime motivation,” Bowman said of his latest selections. “I think the one area we wanted to try and improve was our depth and our players with experience. We’ve got a lot of young players who have shown good progress this year. They’ve done a great job to get us to this point. When you look at the task ahead, with the playoff stretch and you’ve got a lot of games and it’s hopefully going to be playing until June. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and you can rely on some veteran players to do that.”

Obviously the Blackhawks had to give up a few things. Marko Dano was sent to Winnipeg in the Ladd deal and Phillip Danault went to Montreal as part of the Fleischmann/Weise package. Also gone is their first-round selection of the 2016 NHL draft, as well as their second-round and a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. But Bowman knows that’s part of doing business.

“You don’t want to have to trade away young players but you have to give something to get,” Bowman said. "These are real good players we brought in here. You’re not going to get players like that on a handshake. You have to pay a price and we gave away some good young players. I certainly credit our scouting staff for the job they’ve done finding good young players. That’s our job: we have to continue to find payers to replace these guys, and I have confidence in our scouts to do that. We saw an opportunity to improve our team and we went for it. There are always ways to look forward to the future and we’ll stay on top of that.”

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Ladd and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was also acquired on Friday, was present for Saturday morning’s practice. So was Fleischman. Bowman said it could take Weise a few days to get here, considering his visa issues.

Will there be more? Bowman said he expects some discussions between now and when the trade deadline hits at 2 p.m. CT on Monday, but that “I really like the way this team looks right now.” Keep in mind he said the same thing right after acquiring Ladd. The Blackhawks have done well getting to this point this season but they wanted more experience and more personnel to help roll four lines. They’re hoping they’ve gotten the right guys to do that.

“It’s one of those things where what’s done is done and we’re excited about where we’re at and we’re really looking forward to seeing the group come together. And it’s going to be some time until we get everybody back in terms of [Marcus] Kruger and [Marian] Hossa but once we get our full complement of guys back I’m really excited about the potential for that group,” Bowman said. “We’re in a much better position today than we were two or three days ago.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.