Blackhawks

Blackhawks offseason changes unlike ones in 2010

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Blackhawks offseason changes unlike ones in 2010

Key players from another Stanley Cup-winning season are gone. Some were traded due to cap issues. Some were not signed again for the same reason. And there are still changes to be made before the regular season begins.

It’s a lot like 2010. Or is it?

Yes, the Blackhawks’ purge seems similar, maybe not in terms of quantity lost but certainly in the quality players they’ve lost. But unlike 2010, when the Blackhawks entered training camp with plenty of unknowns, this year they have guys who know exactly what to do at the NHL level.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors]

The Blackhawks still have work to do – we’ll get to that later – but they like what they’ve gotten in return thus far. There will still be openings for Rockford IceHogs to claim but other voids will be filled with those with NHL experience. And that has coach Joel Quenneville optimistic entering the fall of 2015.

“When we lost back in 2010, I don’t think we knew what we were getting into,” he said as the Blackhawks convention opened on Friday evening. “We got a lot of players that came in, more so the draft pick type of player, future types of players that projected down the road. Here, we’ve got something we needed in return where guys can play on our team and play big roles. We can find out a little more on how that plays out as we go along.”

Trevor Daley, Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano and Ryan Garbutt are a few of the players acquired in the Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad trades. The experience is there for all of them; Dano’s the youngest at 20, but he had a solid rookie season and has plenty of potential. Anisimov could be the next second-line center; Patrick Kane is already anticipating the possibilities.

“He’s a big, smart, two-way forward and a left-handed shot. That’s the ideal center for someone like myself,” he said. “You see the size and he’s also got the skill, too. He could be a really dangerous fit on our team, so I’m looking forward to the chance of playing with him, if that’s the case. Hopefully we develop some chemistry as quickly as possible.”

Right after acquiring Daley, general manager Stan Bowman said the Blackhawks were looking to get players, “who can help us now.” As far as how they fit into the system, Bowman said Quenneville and company usually figure that out.

“They’ve done a great job of finding out what works, what doesn’t work,” Bowman said. “We have some new players in, so when you look at it from that perspective, you get excited what the possibilities may be for next year. Change is good. I think we’ve embraced that in the past and we’ve been able to bring in players who now are household names. It’ll be the same for some of the new guys. They’ll be new to the fans and media, but I think you’ll fall in love with some of these guys.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Change was bound to come during the summer of 2015, much like it did in the summer of 2010. This time around, however, the new faces are just new to the Blackhawks, not the NHL stage.

“We’ve added some different pieces and tried to replace as best we could,” Quenneville said. “Stan has done a great job in a tight market. That’s today’s game. [There are] certainly a little bit more NHL ready players than we’ve seen in the past. That can help us.”

UPDATES

— Bowman said he continues to talk to Marcus Kruger’s camp about a new contract. “We’re still trying to get everything worked out,” he said.

— The Blackhawks had approximately $750,000 worth of bonus overages last season, which will be deducted from this upcoming season’s cap. So as of today, according to generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks have about $231,500 of cap space.

— Last year, the Blackhawks didn’t trade Nick Leddy until the fall. Bowman said he’s comfortable waiting again, if necessary, to make moves this offseason. “I know it looks like it’s been a long time since July 1 but it’s only been a few weeks,” he said. “There will be some moves around the league between now and the opening of training camp as well as the opening of the season. We’ll look at ways to improve our team. We have a few things we’re contemplating and we’ll see which way we end up going.”

 

Blackhawks record 500th consecutive sellout at United Center

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USA Today

Blackhawks record 500th consecutive sellout at United Center

The Blackhawks have had many ups over the last decade-plus, highlighted by three Stanley Cups. They've also had some downs recently, missing the playoffs for two seasons in a row after nine straight appearances.

But the fan support hasn't wavered.

On Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, the Blackhawks announced a crowd of 21,260, which became their 500th consecutive sellout at the United Center (436 regular season, 64 postseason). The NHL record is held by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are at 572 games and counting. 

The Blackhawks have led the league in attendance for 11 straight seasons, which started during the 2008-09 campaign.

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Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

The Blackhawks wanted to get off to a strong start this season because they know how hard it is to climb out of a hole in the Central Division. Last season was proof of that.

Well, they've picked up only one out of a possible six points through three games and are one of three teams still searching for their first victory of the season. But they're not going into panic mode just yet.

"We know there's things we have to improve upon," Jonathan Toews said. "Jeremy [Colliton] always talks about doing the right thing and over time eventually you're going to get results. I don't know if we can say we're doing things the right things that we want to and we're playing complete games right now, so even having said that, midway through the San Jose game and even against Winnipeg we were in a position to take control of the game going into the third period and we let teams back in. So I think there's a lot of ways we can play better.

"But having said that we're in those games and giving ourselves a chance to win. Obviously that's not good enough, but we're not going to freak out and say, 'we've got to start winning games.' Of course that's the goal, we wanted to get two points the other night."

The quest to pick up their first two points of the season doesn't get any easier for the Blackhawks on Monday night. The Edmonton Oilers are coming to town with a 5-0-0 record, and they're clicking on all cylinders. They have the second-best power play unit (41.2 percent), second-best penalty kill percentage (94.1), the NHL's leading point-getter in Connor McDavid (12) and leading goal scorer in James Neal (seven).

The Blackhawks know at some point they have to start stringing together some wins, but they're not living and dying by the standings right now because everything looks out of proportion. They're focused on the process and putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"It's always magnified at the start of the year," Colliton said. "Your special teams, you got [teams] with 100 percent PK, you got [teams] with 40 percent power play, and all the little things they look way bigger than they are. Would be nice for us to get a win, get some positive feelings but any three-game window among the 82, it's not going to be looked upon as closely as this one.

"So again, we've just got to focus on playing hard, playing the game the right way, do the right thing time and time again and we'll get the results." 

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