Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Jonathan Quick heaps high praise on Toews, Kane

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Blackhawks: Jonathan Quick heaps high praise on Toews, Kane

Jonathan Quick is quite familiar with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

The Kings All-Star netminder squared off with the Blackhawks' dynamic duo in back-to-back Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014, both teams getting past each other en route to a Stanley Cup victory — Blackhawks in 2013, Kings in 2014.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey and Patrick Kane jersey]

But it doesn't make them any easier to defend.

Quick wrote a nice piece for the Players' Tribune evaluating the elite snipers in the NHL, and provided a detailed analysis on what makes Toews and Kane so dangerous. 

Read it below:

I’m cheating again with his duo. It’s not a coincidence these guys are in the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Finals seemingly every year. Unlike Getzlaf and Perry, these guys do very different things, but they complement one another perfectly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two guys play with more confidence in themselves. They just seem to have an unwavering belief that they’ll find a way to win.

 

Let’s start with Kane. Even though he’s a smaller guy, he has a top-tier release and I think he’s actually a little bit underrated in terms of his hockey intelligence. He’s one of the best in the NHL at seeing the ice and reading defenders. A lot of guys with his natural skill level would maybe coast and wait for their chances, but Kane is constantly scanning the ice and processing where the play is going, and where he can pop into open space for a good opportunity. And, of course, his hands are ridiculous. Kane’s stickhandling quickness is probably the best in the NHL. Almost every game, he makes a defenseman look silly by catching them cheating on the pokecheck, then he goes right through their tripod (between the stick and legs) with the dangle.

 

When a guy like Kane is on the ice, you immediately take notice as a goalie. He’s on your radar constantly as the play is unfolding. But add in Toews to the mix and it’s a totally different level. The thing with Toews is that he is constantly moving, constantly working, and possesses an unholy ability to know where the puck is going before it even happens. He’s like a psychic out there. I hate to use words like “intangibles,” but it’s very difficult to describe how Toews is always able to find himself in the right place at the right time, especially in big moments.

 

If Anaheim is hard minutes physically, Chicago is hard minutes mentally. You have to constantly be tracking the movements of Kane and Toews because you’re paranoid that Kane is going to float back door and Toews is going to know he’s there without even looking up. And I think that’s why hockey is such an interesting game to break down. Most people think of hockey as this brutal game (and it definitely can feel that way when you get hit with a Shea Weber slap shot below the belt) but it’s really a mental game more than anything. Chicago has won three of the last six Stanley Cups. Kane and Toews aren’t the biggest guys in the world, but they’re incredibly intelligent, mentally tough and have amazing intuition when playing together.

 

Man, I want to beat them so bad. Let’s get this season started already (sorry, honey).

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread:

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

When the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick the following year, it was a sign that the dark skies were clearing in Chicago. Things really started to change when Rocky Wirtz took over as chairman following the death of his father Bill in September of 2007, and one of the first decisions he made was to televise all 82 games.

The fans were coming back.

For only the second time in 11 years, the Blackhawks finished above .500 in 2007-08 but missed the playoffs by three points, a season in which Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The following year Joel Quenneville took over as head coach after only three games to provide some coaching experience behind the bench for a young team on the rise. It resulted in a 104-point season and ended in a Conference Finals berth at the hands of the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings in five games.

The Blackhawks were ready to make that step into championship contenders. They just needed someone to put them over the edge.

Enter Marian Hossa.

On July 1 of 2009, he committed to the Blackhawks for 12 years worth $62.8 million. He bought into the long-term vision and wanted to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Was he ever.

In his first game as a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa scored two goals in a 7-2 road victory against San Jose after missing the first month and a half of the season with a shoulder injury. It was at that moment where you saw what kind of powerhouse the Blackhawks could be and would become with a full lineup and future Hall of Fame winger added to a mixture of franchise-changing players scratching the surface.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the 2010 quarterfinals. You know how it goes. Series is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks trail 4-3 late in the third period. Extra attacker is on. How many times have we seen this? The Blackhawks were surely going to find a way to tie it up ... and then Hossa is sent to the box with 1:03 to play in regulation. A five-minute major boarding penalty.

Dagger...

Not so fast. 

Patrick Kane went on to score arguably the biggest goal in Blackhawks history, a shorthanded one that evened it up with 13.6 seconds to go. United Center is up for grabs. But there are still four minutes left to kill off on the penalty once overtime starts, which Hossa once called "the longest four minutes of my life." 

In a span of nine seconds following the penalty kill, Hossa jumped on the ice from the box, darted straight for the net and buried home what was the second-biggest goal in franchise history to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series. Two nights later Hossa assisted on three goals and the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators in their barn.

The rest is history.

Who knows if the Blackhawks rally to win that series if they don't tie it up or win it in overtime. Who knows if they break through the next year. Who knows if that core group even remains together. The course of the franchise could've changed that night.

Instead, Hossa was handed the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career on June 9, 2010 from Jonathan Toews, who couldn't give it to him fast enough after he came up on the losing end in consecutive appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and 2009.

Hossa would add two more titles to his résumé with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, which almost certainly locked up his legacy as one of the all-time greats and his eventual next stop: The Hockey Hall of Fame. The wait was worth it.

"I was hoping to get one coming to Chicago and now I’ve got three," Hossa said following the 2015 Stanley Cup win. "What a feeling." 

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Hossa, who will go down as arguably the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history.

On behalf of the city of Chicago: Thank you, 81.