Blackhawks

Coach Q's message to Hawks: Time to wake up

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Coach Q's message to Hawks: Time to wake up

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011Posted: 5:20 PM Updated: 7:08 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks sprinted down the ice, one after the other.

Skate at full speed. Take a shot on goal. Circle around behind the net. Do it again. And again. It was a tough practice, but all things considered not a surprising one.

We knew it was coming, center Dave Bolland said. The way we played (Monday) night, I think the guys expected it.

Message sent. Now it has to be received and heeded from here on out.

The Blackhawks had little compete level in their 3-1 loss to Calgary on Monday, so coach Joel Quenneville made sure they practiced on Tuesday the way they shouldve played the night before: hard, determined and with the urgency that was absent against the Flames.

Our skating and our battle and compete levels need to come up, said defenseman Duncan Keith. Against Calgary, we had a slow start and even though the score was close we still had a lot more to give. Weve got to play harder in all areas of the ice.

The intense practice lasted about 45 minutes. For the 11th-seeded Blackhawks, with 29 games remaining it had also better be a wakeup call.

Last nights a good example. You get what you deserve, coach Quenneville said of the missing competitive level. Youve got to play hard every night. With Vancouver, the way you play, even though you lost, you still have to come out again like that. (Monday night) was one of the biggest (games) of the year, the importance of it all and it was disappointing. We didnt handle it the way we shouldve.

Indeed, the Blackhawks lack of gumption with what was at stake entering Monday night was puzzling. Their up-and-down season is trending down, with losses in four of their last five games.

When you dont compete like we did last night, youre going to have practices like that, Patrick Kane said. You can make a lot of excuses but it comes from within this locker room. Every guy has to take advantage of the opportunity we have and make sure this doesnt happen again.

The Blackhawks had a terribly slow start against the Flames, recording just three shots on goal through the first 20 minutes. And getting traffic in front of the net, something they did do in firing 45 shots against Roberto Luongo on Friday? It never really materialized against the Flames, and Keith was vocal about it after the game. His teammates concurred.

Only three or four shots in the first, thats obviously not getting it done, Kane said. Its like (Keith) said: you get bodies to the net. Thats what we did a lot last year and you see the results we had. Its tough for anyone to play against that traffic.

Bolland said when you see us compete we can dominate the game. We get in their faces and lay the body on them and get in their zone. That wasnt there for everybody (on Monday), including myself. We know we all have to be accountable and we better be ready for (Tuesdays) game.

Quenneville said its his No. 1 responsibility to make sure the Blackhawks compete level is there, and as a team we have to make sure its standard, game in and game out, (that) theres a predictable level of compete.

He has given the Blackhawks another wake-up call. It should be heard and heeded. The Blackhawks are running out of time to respond.

We shouldnt need wakeup calls from the coaching staff. It should always come from within our locker room, Toews said. If one guy think its time to take a night off and take it easy, hes not only letting himself down hes letting the other guys around him down. You remind yourself of that, and its not as easy to let yourself off the hook.
Switching again

The Blackhawks top two lines were altered at Tuesdays practice. Patrick Sharp was on the left wing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and Troy Brouwer was on the left side with Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa.

The Kopecky-Sharp-Hossa line has been struggling as of late.

Weve got some lines mix up a little bit. We might move Sharpie over with Jonny, Quenneville said. Its something well look at (on Tuesday).

Briefly

Brent Seabrook talked about the unsportsmanlike penalty he took late in Mondays game: (The officials) have got a hard enough job making the right calls without us yelling at them and sometimes we have to show a little more respect. Thats the best way to get some respect for ourselves.

Niklas Hjalmarsson who took a few tough blocks in Monday nights game, did not practice on Tuesday.

Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Oilers.

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

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."

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.