Blackhawks

Blackhawks ink GM Stan Bowman to three-year extension

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Blackhawks ink GM Stan Bowman to three-year extension

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Blackhawks have long preached continuity with their group, finding ways of keeping the right players and their head coach as they look to continue their run of success.

To that end, they’ll be keeping their general manager for a few more years, too.

The Blackhawks signed Stan Bowman to a three-year contract extension, which will run through the 2020-21 season. Bowman has been at the helm for the Blackhawks’ last three Stanley Cup runs, balancing a salary cap while still finding the players the team has needed to continue its success.

“It’s a great honor,” Bowman said prior to the Blackhawks game against the Carolina Hurricanes. “I love what I do and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in Chicago.”

[MORE HAWKS: Kris Versteeg pokes fun at former teammate Jonathan Toews]

It’s been a busy month for the Blackhawks in signing their leadership group. On Jan. 12 coach Joel Quenneville was signed to an extension that will take him through the 2019-20 season. The two have combined to lead the Blackhawks to a lot of great achievements lately.

“We’re both respectful of each other’s position. He has to do what he has to do and he has respect knowing what we have to do,” Quenneville said. “We’re in the now business of trying to win today whereas he has a longer perspective of the goals of the organization. Winning has helped a lot of it, but mutual respect for each other is what you have to [have] to be successful.”

When Bowman was named GM he inherited several core players, including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. While Bowman’s locked up some of those core players for the long haul — most recently Toews, Kane and Brent Seabrook — those big contracts, combined with the salary cap, have meant annual personnel changes. Assembling and re-assembling this team has meant tough decisions for Bowman, but he’s nevertheless constantly found ways to build a reliable group around the core players.

Besides the salary considerations, Bowman said figuring out whom to hold onto and who to keep usually comes down to a few factors.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“You have to identify how can you keep it together for the most part and analyze which players are contributing the most. Then you have to have internal candidates that you think are ready to take that next step and, depending on where they are and what positions they play, that may dictate which players are ones you may be able to move,” Bowman said. “It’s never a matter of wanting to weed out players who don’t fit. It’s more trying to determine how can you keep this going forward. And there has to be some changes every year, so that’s the hard part.”

Sure, not every decision Bowman has made has worked out perfectly – which general manager has? But many have worked; and the fact that the Blackhawks have won several Cups in the salary-cap world is a testament to what Bowman has done.

“I think it’s impressive what he’s done, not just with the salary cap but with as many changes as we’ve had over the course of five, six, seven years. He’s done a great job of putting teams together that are able to win consistently,” said Kane, who lived with Bowman when he first came into the league. “I have nothing but good things to say about Stan."

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

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: