Blackhawks have no problem with implementation of 'bye week'


Blackhawks have no problem with implementation of 'bye week'

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The NHL will be implementing a “bye week,” during which a team would get several off days in a row, next season. As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, that would be a good thing.

The possible “bye week” was reported several days ago by various outlets, including TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. According to LeBrun, players would be completely off during the five-day bye week, which would fall sometime between January and the end of February. Teams could only practice on the fifth day if they have a game on the sixth day, but that practice would have to be after 4 p.m. local time on that fifth day.

[MORE: Blackhawks searching for consistency, prep for sizzling Sharks]

The players are fine with that.

“I’d always welcome more rest,” said Duncan Keith with a laugh. “There have been spurts this year where we’ve had time like that, which has been good. But a bye week is a nice thing to add.”

Coach Joel Quenneville is one to always give the Blackhawks ample time off; he’s not a big practice guy, and even when the Blackhawks do practice the sessions usually last between 30-45 minutes. Still, in the midst of an 82-game season – and for the Blackhawks, longer than that with recent postseasons – a specific break would be nice.

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“It’s good if you treat it the right way, right? I think all of us, as players, would probably welcome a few more days off,” Patrick Kane said. “Here in Chicago, we’re fortunate with the amount of days we get and things the organization does as far as giving us the ability to get away from the game a bit. But for those extra [five] days – it’s a long season, especially for a team like us that’s gone far the past few years – it would be good to get away for a few days and get your mind off hockey. So if you use it the right way, it could be an advantage.”

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.