Blackhawks

Bowman on Toews, trades, and his new job

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Bowman on Toews, trades, and his new job

Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman was a guest on "NHL Live" on NHL Network Wednesday afternoon, and backed up what head coach Joel Quenneville told the media the previous two days concerning the severity of what appears to be a hand or wrist injury Jonathan Toews sustained last weekend, forcing him to miss Tuesday's loss to Nashville.

"Most likely," Bowman replied when asked if the captain would be ready after the All-Star break. "It's certainly not a long-term injury. We'll see how he does with a little bit of work on the injury. We have a long road trip coming up, starting in Vancouver next Tuesday and we're targeting him to play in that game, and he's on track to hopefully be ready by then."

As for his assessment of his team, Bowman told co-hosts Deb Placey and Ken Daneyko fourth in the division and sixth in the conference isn't good enough.

"I think there's room for improvement" Bowman said. "We've had a good first 50 games for our group. We've put ourselves in a decent position going forward. There's four teams in our division who are on pace for 100 points, which is hard to believe, really. We have a lot of games against those teams. We're looking to improve our overall consistency. I think when our team plays to our level, like when we've gone on some winning streaks this year, we're very tough to beat, but there's other times we've struggled.

"We're looking to improve our team through trades, but as you can see, there's not a lot happening on that front. A lot of talking, but I think it will speed up a little bit as we get closer to the deadline. But right now, it's a wait-and-see approach, and trying to find answers from within."

Bowman was then asked how aggressive he's been looking to deal, and reiterated what he's recently told the Chicago media about where he's looking to upgrade.

"I've talked to a lot of general managers over the last few weeks, going back to December, just trying to get an idea of what they're looking to do and I've tried to make it clear what we're trying to do," he said. "Right now, we're seeing a slowdown because there's nobody really ready to sacrifice their season yet and start trading away their valuable players. I've had a lot of conversations and letting people know we're willing to trade but there's nothing happening at the moment.

"In general, you can never be too deep at the center ice position. We've got a lot of young players who've stepped in and helped us this year, but I think having depth there is important. Same thing with defense. We've got eight defensemen with us right now who I think all can play. We've got a couple kids in the minors whom we're high on and could also contribute, but if you're looking for that proven NHL defenseman, that's something we have to look at."

The NHL trade deadline is Monday, February 27th, at 2 p.m., Chicago time.

Bowman was a guest primarily to discuss being added by USA Hockey to the U.S. Mens National Team Advisory Group in leading the selection of American-born players for international competitions. He'll join a panel that already includes Toronto's Brian Burke, Philadelphia's Paul Holmgren, Dean Lombardi of Los Angeles, Nashville's David Poile, Ray Shero of Pittsburgh and former Atlanta Thrashers executive Don Waddell.

"I'm very thrilled to have the opportunity to help out any way I can," said Bowman. "They did a phenomenal job in the team they prepared for Vancouver, coming so close to the gold medal. We're certainly aiming to repeat that performance, but it's not an easy task. There's a lot of players to evaluate and try to assemble to compete against the other great countries. It's an opportunity for me to be exposed to different things and contribute to not only the Olympic team, but the World Championship team."

The next event for which Bowman and the six others will need to assemble a team for is the IIHF World Championships May 4-20 in Helsinki and Stockholm.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

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

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USA TODAY

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!