Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Patrick Kane returns to Buffalo for first time since investigation

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Blackhawks: Patrick Kane returns to Buffalo for first time since investigation

BUFFALO, N.Y. – When Patrick Kane departed Buffalo in mid-September, he did so facing a myriad of questions.

At that time Kane was the subject of a rape investigation. How that would unfold was unknown. What the Blackhawks were going to do with their right wing, outside of starting the season with him, was unknown.

Since then, some questions have been answered. The investigation against him was dropped in early November. The Blackhawks have stated that Kane is part of their long-term future. Now we’ll see Buffalo’s reaction to Kane’s return when the Blackhawks face the Sabres on Saturday afternoon.

[MORE: Marcus Kruger sidelined four months with dislocated wrist]

On the ice, Kane has been great. Entering Friday’s games, he led the NHL in points (47), was tied for the league lead in assists (28, with Erik Karlsson) and was one shy of the league lead in goals (19), shared by Jamie Benn and Vladimir Tarasenko (20). His 26-game point streak, a new franchise record, ended against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Kane was in the midst of his streak when general manager Stan Bowman was asked if Kane was part of the Blackhawks’ long-term future.

“Absolutely,” Bowman said in late November. “You can’t find talent like that. You look at what he’s done over the course of his career, whether it’s this season, last season or since he was a rookie. He won rookie of the year. He’s been a game changer. He’s one of those guys that, I’ve said it a lot over the years, he’s able to elevate his game in pressure moments. Not too many guys are able to do that.

"Sometimes when the pressure gets on, they have a hard time performing, but he’s sort of the opposite. He seems to raise his game.”

Fan reaction to Kane on previous road visits varied. Some audiences did nothing audibly noticeable. Some booed. Some took part in unsettling chants. But Saturday’s game won’t be in the buildings in which Kane was disliked well before last summer. It’ll be in his hometown, and one would think the crowd will have a positive reaction to Kane.

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Asked if Kane’s return to Buffalo now would be any different considering this past summer, coach Joel Quenneville didn’t foresee it.

“He’s gone through, I’d say, five months of a lot of attention. He’s gone through a busy stretch here,” Quenneville said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be much different.”

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Goaltender masks are often a place for artistic expression and tribute. Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg is adding his own touching tribute this season.

The 25-year-old Swedish goalie chose to tribute Avicii with an image of the musician on his goalie mask. Avicii, a fellow Swede, died by suicide in April.

David Gunnarsson, a professional mask artist, did the art for Forsberg's mask and posted it on Instagram.

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Today we have the honor to present Anton Forsberg´s new Blackhawks mask for the coming season😊🥅. Anton knew what he wanted on his new mask, he wanted to pay tribute to the Swedish DJ legend Tim Bergling❤️, a.k.a Avicii, who recently passed away. Just as Anton I am also a big admirer of his music and person and family🙏🏻❤️. It was a huge honor for me to paint and create this painting together with Anton in honor to Avicii´s family, they were also the first to see this painting❤️. The rest of the mask is painted in an old school and clean style, and on the other side of the mask Anton`s best friend pop up and makes him company in the net. @antonforsbeerg @nhlblackhawks @nhl @daveart

A post shared by David Gunnarsson (@daveart) on

According to Tracey Myers of NHL.com, Forsberg asked Avicii's parents for permission before going ahead with it.

"I've always listened to his music and have been a big fan of it," Forsberg said. "For me, there was no hesitation putting him on the mask."

Forsberg wore last season's mask in his preseason debut in Detroit on Thursday so he hasn't shown off the new gear just yet. That may need to wait for the regular season.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks training camp twist, Boqvist in?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks training camp twist, Boqvist in?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis talk about Joel Quenneville leaving the door open for No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist to start the season with the Blackhawks. What are the chances he and Henri Jokiharju both make the team?

The guys also discuss Corey Crawford's status and what to make of his abbreviated on-ice session after six straight days of skating, Connor Murphy's injury that could sideline him until December, how the line of Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane will work and the new 1-3-1 power play structure.

They also weigh in on which position battles they're looking forward to tracking during the back half of training camp.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!