Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks-Bruins: Last looks and lower-body injuries

Five things from Blackhawks-Bruins: Last looks and lower-body injuries

The Blackhawks wrapped up their preseason schedule on Saturday night. But how was their health at the end of the night? Let’s talk about that and a few other items in the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins.

1. “I think they’ll be all right.” Neither Jonathan Toews nor Connor Murphy were on the bench at the end of Saturday’s game — Murphy went off with about 4:40 remaining in regulation and Toews, who took a puck off his leg in the third period, came back before leaving again. Both appeared to suffer lower-body injuries, but coach Joel Quenneville said that both should be OK. “We’ll know more tomorrow,” he added. As Patrick Sharp said, “that’s the one thing you don’t want to do in that last game is lose some bodies. We’ll see how they’re doing. Hopefully everybody’s OK and ready to go in a couple of days.”

2. Corey Crawford finishes strong. Crawford’s last outing against the Bruins in Boston was a rough one. He made up for it tonight, closing out the preseason with a 38-stop shutout. While the rest of the Blackhawks looked sluggish overall, Crawford was outstanding. Again, we’re only dealing with a two-week sample size, but with Crawford maintaining form and Anton Forsberg having two good outings, the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation should be all right.

3. Alex DeBrincat takes a third-line spin. The Blackhawks have put the 19-year-old with a couple of different combinations. And after joining Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman at the Blackhawks’ first practice at Notre Dame on Sunday, that’s where DeBrincat was in the preseason finale. Overall, the Blackhawks looked just a little off, so this wasn’t the most telling look of that trio. But Quenneville was very happy with DeBrincat again.

4. Another good night for Jan Rutta. The Blackhawks beat out a few teams vying for the Czech defenseman’s services, signing him to a one-year deal over the summer. He’s had a good camp and capped it with another solid outing on Saturday night. Rutta, paired with fellow Czech Michal Kempny, has looked poised throughout and gives the Blackhawks another option on the blue line.

5. Is this the Blackhawks’ opening night lineup? As Quenneville said after the game, “possibly.” The Blackhawks will likely make their final roster decisions on Monday, and considering the camps DeBrincat and John Hayden have had, they’ve earned opportunities. But remember: on the opening night of the season Marian Hossa must still be on this roster. So don’t worry so much about the Blackhawks’ roster on the NHL’s opening night (Wednesday); keep an eye on what it is on the team’s opening night (Thursday).

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:

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

When the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick the following year, it was a sign that the dark skies were clearing in Chicago. Things really started to change when Rocky Wirtz took over as chairman following the death of his father Bill in September of 2007, and one of the first decisions he made was to televise all 82 games.

The fans were coming back.

For only the second time in 11 years, the Blackhawks finished above .500 in 2007-08 but missed the playoffs by three points, a season in which Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The following year Joel Quenneville took over as head coach after only three games to provide some coaching experience behind the bench for a young team on the rise. It resulted in a 104-point season and ended in a Conference Finals berth at the hands of the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings in five games.

The Blackhawks were ready to make that step into championship contenders. They just needed someone to put them over the edge.

Enter Marian Hossa.

On July 1 of 2009, he committed to the Blackhawks for 12 years worth $62.8 million. He bought into the long-term vision and wanted to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Was he ever.

In his first game as a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa scored two goals in a 7-2 road victory against San Jose after missing the first month and a half of the season with a shoulder injury. It was at that moment where you saw what kind of powerhouse the Blackhawks could be and would become with a full lineup and future Hall of Fame winger added to a mixture of franchise-changing players scratching the surface.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the 2010 quarterfinals. You know how it goes. Series is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks trail 4-3 late in the third period. Extra attacker is on. How many times have we seen this? The Blackhawks were surely going to find a way to tie it up ... and then Hossa is sent to the box with 1:03 to play in regulation. A five-minute major boarding penalty.

Dagger...

Not so fast. 

Patrick Kane went on to score arguably the biggest goal in Blackhawks history, a shorthanded one that evened it up with 13.6 seconds to go. United Center is up for grabs. But there are still four minutes left to kill off on the penalty once overtime starts, which Hossa once called "the longest four minutes of my life." 

In a span of nine seconds following the penalty kill, Hossa jumped on the ice from the box, darted straight for the net and buried home what was the second-biggest goal in franchise history to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series. Two nights later Hossa assisted on three goals and the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators in their barn.

The rest is history.

Who knows if the Blackhawks rally to win that series if they don't tie it up or win it in overtime. Who knows if they break through the next year. Who knows if that core group even remains together. The course of the franchise could've changed that night.

Instead, Hossa was handed the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career on June 9, 2010 from Jonathan Toews, who couldn't give it to him fast enough after he came up on the losing end in consecutive appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and 2009.

Hossa would add two more titles to his résumé with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, which almost certainly locked up his legacy as one of the all-time greats and his eventual next stop: The Hockey Hall of Fame. The wait was worth it.

"I was hoping to get one coming to Chicago and now I’ve got three," Hossa said following the 2015 Stanley Cup win. "What a feeling." 

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Hossa, who will go down as arguably the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history.

On behalf of the city of Chicago: Thank you, 81.