Blackhawks

Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

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Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

READ: Kane embracing new roleREAD: Bolland, Smith questionable for openerWATCH: Mikita discusses new book on CTL

The Chicago Blackhawks will start their season without Dave Bolland, but there's hope the center will return for Saturday night's home opener.

Bolland practiced for the first time in over a week on Thursday, as he was sidelined with an upper body injury. Bolland, who will not play in Dallas on Friday night, said this injury was not related to his concussion and back problems of the past. Nevertheless it's one more injury for Bolland, who has struggled with them plenty already.

"You always wish you could stay healthy but little things can come out of nowhere," he said. "You're working hard out there and you wish you could get through a whole career with no injury. But some guys it happens to and some guys it doesn't. It's just the way things happen."

Forward Ben Smith did not practice at all on Thursday and is also out for Friday. Smith is still coming back from a concussion he sustained last week against the Detroit Red Wings and has not been cleared for contact. Asked if Smith not practicing was a setback, coach Joel Quenneville said, "it's part of the process."

Quenneville said it's possible the Blackhawks dress seven defensemen Friday.

Meanwhile, Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford and will play Friday. Pirri was centering Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik at Thursday's practice and Quenneville said he could play some with them in the season opener. Pirri wants to make the most of the opportunity.

"If I'm lucky enough to play a couple years in this league, it'll be the same feeling every game. This is just a childhood dream to play in the NHL," said Pirri, who had five points in the preseason. "I wanted to feel confident playing; that's when I play my best."

Montador adjusting

Defenseman Steve Montador said it's been an adjustment to the Blackhawks this preseason. But he said he's felt better about his game as camp's continued.

"It's been an adjustment but I'm as comfortable as I've ever been being here. I know when I'm in the right place," said Montador, who was paired with John Scott in Thursday's practice. "There's a lot of adjustment but I'm in a good place now."

Montador, who signed a four-year deal with the Blackhawks this offseason, didn't talk of specific adjustments. He's getting used to a new system and teammates, which could always be part of it. Coach Joel Quenneville said Montador had a "so-so camp" but improved as it went along -- "once he gets more acclimated and comfortable his game will get to where it needs to be," Quenneville said.

Montador said the same.

"I wouldn't say i was overall happy with it all, but that's a benefit that the games don't count. They're gone and now it's the regular season," he said. "It just takes time on some things, and time is taking time."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

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AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

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: