Blackhawks

Blackhawks know roster changes are coming in wake of Cup win

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Blackhawks know roster changes are coming in wake of Cup win

Patrick Kane has seen a lot of friends leave Chicago, teammates that have helped win Stanley Cups but who didn’t fit in future plans in this salary-cap world.

“It’s inevitable, right?” Kane said on Wednesday. “You’re never going to have the same team two years in a row. It’s part of the business, part of the game.”

The Blackhawks have been euphoric these last few days, thanks to winning the Cup, their third in the past six seasons, on Monday. Soon, that euphoria will fade when the inevitable starts happening: The cash-strapped Blackhawks will have to part with a few more players.

The salary cap for 2015-16 hasn’t been announced yet, but the number isn’t expected to be much more than the $69 million of this season. According to NHLNumbers.com, the Blackhawks have $64 million dedicated to 14 players. Someone has to go. Actually more than one probably has to go.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Brandon Saad on Blackhawks: 'This is where I want to be']

Patrick Sharp could be one of those on the way out. Sharp, who has two years remaining on his current deal and a cap hit of $5.9 million, has been the subject of trade talk for some time now. When that talk came up again on Wednesday, Sharp wasn’t getting into it much.

“I haven’t really put much thought into it,” Sharp said. “It’s been a whirlwind couple of days. To win a third Stanley Cup in this city is something that I’ll always remember. It’s pretty special. It’s a huge accomplishment. These last couple days have been crazy. I’m sure the next few days when things wind down a little bit, that’ll be more of a topic of conversation.”

Bryan Bickell has been hearing that chatter, too. Bickell’s 2015 Cup season was nothing like his 2013 one. This time around he struggled, and down the stretch his health became an issue. Bickell was out of the lineup with vertigo early in the Stanley Cup Final, and he said on Wednesday that it’s still bothering him. Now there’s the possibility of he and his contract, which still has two years and a $4 million-cap-hit-a-year remaining, being on the way out.

“I consider Chicago my second home, being here, drafted and working my way up through the system and have the ultimate goal and be successful like we have been,” Bickell said. “But it’s part of the business. A lot of friends have moved. It’s out of my control, it happens. I want to stay; it’s a good spot to be in.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks Stanley Cup champs gear right here]

General manager Stan Bowman is no stranger to this salary-cap carousel. Despite all the changes, especially all the movement that came following the 2010 Cup victory, he’s been able to keep the core of seven or eight long-time players together. That core could get altered this time.

“We want to have some stability. That’s been the hallmark of our success the last couple of years: stability in coaching and management staff, as well as (having) a lot of our key players back. Ideally that’s how you work it,” Bowman said. “But there are things we have to work out and some variables we haven’t locked down yet, so it’s too early to tell.”

The Blackhawks are already eyeing the future. Trevor van Riemsdyk will come into training camp healthy. Michael Paliotta could get an opportunity on defense, as should Stephen Johns. Russian forward Artemi Panarin has coach Joel Quenneville anticipating good things.

“Certainly, it’s the nature of our game,” Quenneville said of roster changes. “Change is all part of it. We’ll miss some pieces or lose some pieces, but there’s some excitement down the road as well.”

The Blackhawks have some decisions to make. The cuts are going to come. Friends are going to go. The Blackhawks have set themselves apart with their Stanley Cup success these past few seasons, despite all the changes. That still doesn’t make parting any easier.

“It’s always sad to see faces leaving the team,” Kane said. “Hopefully there’s not too much damage over this summer.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on Friday:

1. Blackhawks can't solve Cal Petersen

With Jonathan Quick (knee), Jack Campbell (knee) and Peter Budaj (sick) out, the Kings trotted out former Notre Dame standout Petersen to make his first career NHL start between the pipes. And he didn't disappoint.

The 24-year-old stopped 34 of 35 shots (.971 save percentage) in 65 minutes of play and denied Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the shootout to earn his first victory in the big leagues.

"He was good, yeah," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The third period was more like it. If we’d had 60 minutes [like that] maybe we break him down eventually. He did well, he did a good job. I thought we had a little more traffic, got some more pucks to the net. That was better. But you can’t help but think if we’d have had that push earlier, then we’d get paid off for it."

2. Line changes serve as third-period spark

After failing to generate many scoring chances in the first two periods, Jeremy Colliton spruced up his top-six by putting Brandon Saad with Kane and Toews and Nick Schmaltz with Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov. They saw the benefits almost immediately.

Saad scored 2:39 into the final frame after burying a feed at the doorstep by Toews for his third goal in six games, tying the game at 1-1.

'We showed some resiliency battling in the third," Saad said. "It was definitely a slow start. We've got to play a full 60 minutes to win hockey games, but I think it shows some character how we can battle back in the third. And then overtime we had some chances and some puck possession, and when it comes down to a shootout it can be anyone's game. But the message for us is to play a full 60, because when we play well you can see that we have opportunities and a better chance to win the hockey game."

3. Power play comes up empty

Special teams was the deciding factor in the Blackhawks' last two games. They gave up two power-play goals in 66 seconds against Carolina on Monday and then beat St. Louis 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to a power-play goal of their own.

The Blackhawks had three power-play opportunities against the Kings, and all three of them came in the second period. They recorded a combined six shots on goal during them, but reverted back to some old habits by waiting for the open shot and lacking net-front presence.

"You get three in the second, it would be nice to get one," Kane said. "Even if you're not getting anything on it, it's nice to get momentum off of it. I thought we did a decent job of getting momentum, getting some chances and some looks. Sometimes you've just got to converge on the net and hopefully get those rebounds and try to find a way to get one a little bit dirtier."

The Blackhawks also allowed a breakaway chance towards the end of the third power play, but Corey Crawford saved the day. Tyler Toffoli scored 19 seconds after the Blackhawks' first power play to make it 1-0 Kings.

4. Meet your newest Blackhawk

The Blackhawks had a visitor at morning skate in Carter Holmes, an 11-year-old from Wisconsin, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As part of the Make-A-Wish Experience, Holmes became a Blackhawk for a day and practiced with the team, including his favorite player Patrick Kane.

"I might have to change my number," Kane joked about Holmes, who wears No. 88 because of Kane. "I think he was a little bit better than me out there today."

It was the first time Holmes skated since being diagnosed on June 30, four days after his team took first place at a tournament. Holmes feared that he would never be able to play hockey again, but that won't be the close. He's expected to re-join his teammates soon, even if it may take a while to get back into game shape.

"It's pretty special," Kane said of Holmes, who will drop the ceremonial first puck on Sunday for "Hockey Fights Cancer" Night at the United Center. "Sometimes you're just playing hockey and worried about the business aspect of it, but days like today you can take a step back and realize there's more important things out there."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

SportsTalk Live is on location at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. Charlie Roumeliotis, Jay Cohen and Jimmy Greenfield join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

0:00- Pat Boyle stops by to talk about the start of the Jeremy Colliton era and to preview the huge Sunday Night showdown between the Bears and Vikings.

19:00- Adam Burish joins the panel to preview the Blackhawks and Kings and to talk about how the Hawks players are reacting to a 33-year old head coach.

Listen to the full epiosde here or via the embedded player below: 

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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