Blackhawks

Campoli looking for first goal as a Blackhawk

404094.jpg

Campoli looking for first goal as a Blackhawk

Wednesday, March 16, 2011Posted: 4:58 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Chris Campoli is a pretty happy man right now.

The newest Chicago Blackhawks defenseman is liking his new surroundings or at least what little hes seen of his new city and is especially loving being part of a puck-possession team that fits his style.

If he could just get that elusive goal.

I could probably have three or four goals already but I cant finish it off, joked Campoli, who clanged one off the crossbar but soon after got an assist on Viktor Stalbergs goal against San Jose on Monday. But guys find you.

And right now, Campoli is finding himself in a great spot. Traded from a struggling Ottawa Senators team at the deadline, the 26-year-old Campoli is part of a contender and fitting in with his teammates and his on-ice role.

This system suits my style of game more, for sure, he said. In Ottawa they tell you to go, but its tough to go sometimes when youre chasing the puck. This teams a puck-possession team and we want to play with the puck. The guys Im playing with on defense fit more of my mold than maybe some of the guys up in Ottawa.

Defenseman Duncan Keith said Campolis fit in well in his first seven games.

Hes come in and his skill level, smarts and reading of plays compliments our team game, he said. Hes enjoying being here and being on a team that likes to hold onto the puck and make plays.

Campoli played his first few games with Brian Campbell. The two have similar games and complimented each other well. But even in the absence of Campbell, whos currently sidelined with a leg injury, Campoli has improvised and found his niche regardless of partner. He played nearly 22 minutes against San Jose on Monday night, and that included some power play and penalty kill time.

He really gives us a defenseman that can play minutes, can play both sides, can add some offense to our defense core and is reliable defensively, coach Joel Quenneville said. He reads and sees situations, defends well and wants to go get pucks in corners. I
just think as he becomes more accustomed to his surroundings hes going to add that to his game. Were very happy with what he has done and what he can do.

Campoli is also appreciating a more positive environment. Times were tough in Ottawa, where the veteran-heavy Senators were expected to be contenders in the Eastern Conference. They struggled from the start, however, and went through the obvious changes at deadline.

I just think it became a really negative environment, he said. Anytime a veteran group doesnt do well there are going to be changes. Maybe uncertainty made it such a negative atmosphere and just the struggles in general of not winning. I guess Im fortunate to move onto a great situation for me. What better chance? This teams got a great chance to win.

Keith, who was with the Blackhawks before recent success, understands that.

Ive been on teams with losing seasons and its a long year, he said. Getting traded to a team thats in the thick of things can make you definitely feel better about coming to the rink every day.

Campolis enjoying hockey life a lot more right now. Hes in a good situation, getting a great opportunity. Hes latched on to a Blackhawks team in the thick of the playoff hunt and its made for a better outlook.

Theres optimism here. Its contagious, it really is, he said. Im being given more of a chance here so far than I ever was in Ottawa. Joel showing confidence in me is helping me go out there and just play my game. When youre playing on such a good team with guys like this, they make you look a lot better.

Injury updates

Brian Campbell (left leg) will miss the Blackhawks game in Dallas on Thursday but he could meet the team in Glendale for their game against the Coyotes on Sunday. Campbell, who did not practice on Wednesday, suffered his injury against the Florida Panthers last week. He played in the first half of the Blackhawks 4-3 overtime loss to Washington, sitting on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Dave Bolland, meanwhile, is out for the next two games and wont even make the trip to DallasPhoenix. Still sidelined with a concussion, Bollands status hasnt really improved much, if at all, since Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina elbowed him in the head last week.

You want Bolly to take his time and make sure hes 100 percent when he does come back, captain Jonathan Toews said. Who knows when that will be? I have no idea what the timeline is for him, but theres no denying hes a big piece of the puzzle here on our squad, especially as a centerman and what he does on the power play and penalty kill.

Ouch

Patrick Sharp took a Duncan Keith shot to the ankle during Wednesdays practice. The forward shook it off and told reporters that Keiths shot wasnt that hard.

Keith said thats good. I think I took a little off for him because I saw him there. I just wanted to give him a little taste of it to let him know not to be in the way like that.

Briefly

Corey Crawford gets the start against the Stars on Thursday night.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson didnt practice on Wednesday but hes expected to play in Dallas.

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

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."

Stan Bowman explains how Blackhawks may utilize extra cap space

Stan Bowman explains how Blackhawks may utilize extra cap space

The Blackhawks had cap space to use this summer but elected to shore up their depth rather than make a splash when free agency opened up on July 1. Perhaps a large reason for that was because Marian Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit over the next three years complicated what they could do exactly in the short term without jeopardizing the long term.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman admitted Tuesday that they had had discussions about moving Hossa's contract for a year now. But it finally reached a point where they simply needed to get it off their hands, even if it meant giving up Vinnie Hinostroza as a sweetener.

"We tried to make that deal work in every other way possible but they obviously said he had to be in it," Bowman said of including Hinostroza.

That's how important it was to free up even more cap space. By trading Hossa's contract in a nine-piece trade with the Arizona Coyotes, it created more options for the Blackhawks and financial flexibility going forward.

"It was a difficult trade from a sentimental perspective, because we'd love to not have to do that," Bowman said. "But on the practical matter, it was becoming challenging to try to operate with that contract here. It necessitated us trying to make the move that we did make. You don't know when those opportunities are going to come to try and make that type of a move. ... When this presented itself, we talked it through and got to the point where we thought it was something we had to take advantage of."

The problem for the short term is, it's mid-July and the big-name free agents are off the market. There's not much the Blackhawks can do to improve their roster externally unless they make a trade, which would require dipping into the pipeline.

And it's unfair to put a grade on the Hossa trade as a whole without seeing how they utilize that extra cap space. Could that be before the 2018-19 season starts?

"It's an option if we can find the right player or the right situation," Bowman said. "We certainly have more options now than we did before. I wouldn't say we have to do something. Having cap space is an asset in and of itself, so things will come along maybe in the summer or maybe in the beginning part of the year where teams have a couple players that make their team unexpectedly and that makes some other players more expendable. In the past we probably haven't really been a good match for those types of situations because we didn't have the cap room at that time, so now we're going to be in the mix for those types of things.

"Whether we use it right away or whether we use it during the season, I think the nice thing is we have the flexibility now going in to the coming years where we're going to need cap room, all that and more, to sign the young players."

It doesn't sound like there's much urgency to pull something off between now and when training camp rolls around in September. At least for now.

That doesn't mean there won't be once the market picks back up again. 

"Each year teams have surprises, good and bad, in camp," Bowman said. "Our team’s the same way. You have ideas on how your lines are going to look or how your players are going to be ready. Sometimes guys surprise you in a good way, sometimes it’s not what you think. There’ll be some adjustments around the league, but probably not a lot of activity.

"If you look back the last couple of seasons, late July and August are quieter as far as transactions. But there are some arbitration cases coming up around the league; those may get settled ahead of time. But if they do go to arbitration, if the number's not the way the team likes it, they may look to do something. There’s the possibility of moves, but probably closer to training camp is more when changes may happen."