Blackhawks teammates doing best to ignore Patrick Kane distraction


Blackhawks teammates doing best to ignore Patrick Kane distraction

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jonathan Toews was asked how the Blackhawks would be fine after this summer, a brief one that included a lot of changes, several key teammates being traded and Patrick Kane being under investigation.

He talked of the on-ice competition looming and of the chance young guys will get with this somewhat revamped Blackhawks team.

“Anything else that’s being talked about away from the rink,” Toews said, “is a non-factor for us.”

Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have long been part of the Blackhawks’ leadership group. They’ve dealt with a lot of things with this team, on and off the ice. They’ll be dealing with different challenges again as the Blackhawks begin training camp at the University of Notre Dame this weekend.

[MORE: Blackhawks, Patrick Kane remain silent on police investigation]

Toews and the Blackhawks’ alternate captains Keith and Seabrook – who will wear the “A” previously worn by Patrick Sharp – said they couldn’t discuss the investigation of Kane; a young woman has accused him of raping her at his Buffalo-area home.

Players said they will keep their focus on camp and trying to repeat.

“I think every year it’s been a new year and a new challenge every year. We’ve gone into a lot of different scenarios and situations in hockey and I think that we’ve always found a way to find a way to win. Not every year, but I think that we’ve got such a good core in here, core group of guys that have been around for a while that have played in those big games and been in those situations whether it was Olympics and things like that…” Keith said. “That pressure, you kind of get used to dealing with that type of pressure, and Ithink that helps you in the long run.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks have dealt with distractions before, be it on or off the ice. The Kane investigation is ongoing, and the Blackhawks will have to balance that with what they’re trying to attain on the ice.

“Whatever the situation is, one thing about our group, they’re committed. Their priorities as far as focus and playing that game and doing whatever they can to max out in that situation is as good as I’ve ever seen,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The leadership group leads the charge in that area. In all situations, they find a way to overcome any obstacle. It’s never a concern with me.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns


Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

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

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”