Blackhawks

Blackhawks, John Torchetti (sort of) together again

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Blackhawks, John Torchetti (sort of) together again

MINNEAPOLIS – John Torchetti got a few messages from the Blackhawks when he was named the Minnesota Wild’s interim coach. Nice gestures from his former bosses.

“I had some great texts, from Joel [Quenneville] and [team president] John McDonough wishing me good luck except for when we play them,” Torchetti said on Saturday. “So it’s a big game. But for us, I want to see where we’re at.”

A few years ago Torchetti was standing with the Blackhawks, hoisting that Stanley Cup that broke the franchise’s long drought without it. On Sunday afternoon he’ll be behind the other bench.

The former Blackhawks associate coach is currently the Minnesota Wild’s interim coach, getting the nod after the Wild fired head coach Mike Yeo last week. Playing his former team is a thrill, but Torchetti has bigger concerns at the moment.

“Yeah, it’s exciting. It’ll be fun to see the guys back on the ice,” Torchetti said. “But after the puck drops it is just another game, you know?”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Buy a Stadium Series jersey]

Torchetti was part of the Blackhawks’ coaching staff from 2007 to 2010, when he joined the Atlanta Thrashers. During his time there Torchetti brought life to the Blackhawks’ power play. He also let Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane spread their wings on the ice.

“He brought a lot to our power play. He made things simple for us, never overcomplicated things. He allowed our skill to go out there and make things happen offensively, 5-on-5 and the power play as well,” Jonathan Toews said. “I guess that team is looking for a change. We know they’ll be a different team, especially in that game, knowing what they’ve been through lately.”

Kane agreed.

“He’s one of those guys that I only have good things to say about,” he said. “Our power play was effective when he was here; he was one of those guys that brought me and Tazer on the ice early in our careers before practice to work on some things. Good offensive mind for the game and I really liked him as a person, too.”

[MORE: Blackhawks’ power play is sizzling again]

Torchetti was named interim coach of a Wild team that was sinking fast in the Central Division; the Wild had lost eight in a row and 13 of their previous 14 when Yeo was fired. Since Torchetti took over the Wild have won three in a row heading into this weekend’s division game on a very grand stage.

Justin Fontaine said he’s learned plenty from Torchetti, be it in his time with the Wild or during his minor-league days – Torchetti coached the Houston Aeros during Fontaine’s time there.

“He’s a real energetic guy,” Fontaine said. “You can tell how much he cares about the game. He’s great with systems. He taught me a lot about pro hockey coming from college, and how to adapt to this style of play and pro hockey all around. I have a lot of praise for Torts. He’s been a good coach for me. Even coming in and sparking the team here and going over a lot of things, we have a lot more energy on the bench, a lot more communication and it’s been going in the right direction.”

Jason Zucker said there is a difference between the Torchetti and Yeo’s approaches.

[RELATED: President Barack Obama honors Blackhawks for Stanley Cup victory]

“Every coach is a little different. Nobody’s going to be the same. Torch is a little bit more vocal and … animated. Yeo was a lot more controlled in the way he went about things,” Zucker said. “But everyone has their own way of doing things, and there’s no right or wrong or good or bad with that.”

The Blackhawks are very familiar with their foe and its new coach. The Wild coach is, in turn, familiar with the Blackhawks’ system and their core group of players. They once did a lot of great things together. They’ll be friendly again soon enough but right now, Torchetti is focused on trying to help the Wild turn a season around again.

“I love the game. You have to play with a lot of passion and play with detail and execute. For me, I’m all about the players. My job is to make you a better hockey player and that’s what it’s all about moving forward,” Torchetti said. “I look forward to coaching every day and seeing my players on the ice, then seeing the product work on the ice. That’s the best part about teaching: there’s no ceiling to it.”

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.