Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks' Stanley Cup clincher

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Five things from Blackhawks' Stanley Cup clincher

Well, the Blackhawks did it.

The sour taste they had in their mouth following last year’s Western Conference Final carried over to training camp, when the Blackhawks realized how long the road was going to be to get back to even that point. But they took that road, dealt with the ups and downs of it along the way and, once again, hoisted the Stanley Cup at the end of that arduous trek.

The Blackhawks won their third Cup in the past six seasons when they ousted the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night. Duncan Keith earned the Conn Smythe Trophy. Corey Crawford earned a shutout and – maybe – a little more respect league wide.

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But we know you’re all reveling in the Cup victory so we’ll get to the point. Here to cap Game No. 105, are the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Cup triumph.

1. Keith takes home his own hardware. What a postseason for the defenseman, who logged a ton of minutes – more than 700 – and just got better with every passing moment. It was only fitting that Keith scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. His play cannot be heralded enough. Said Quenneville of Keith, “great selection, great guy, based on a lot of reasons. He defends as well as he does and he still creates a lot of offense for us against top players.”
 
2. Kimmo Timonen gets his Cup moment. You could see the joy and relief on Timonen’s face as he lifted the Cup above his head. The defenseman said he was retiring at the end of this season no matter what, but a Cup victory would be the perfect ending. Well, Timonen, who overcame blood-clot problems during the offseason, got his perfect ending. “Doctors have their own opinion and they were probably right,” Timonen said of his health issues that almost cost him this season completely “But my desire was so deep. If there was any chance I could make a comeback I [wanted] to do it.”

[MORE: Mission accomplished: Blackhawks bring home third Stanley Cup in six years]
 
3. Corey Crawford finishes with a bang and a blanking. Crawford wanted to forget his first round, which was rough. No better way to erase the start than to come through in the end, and Crawford was great when the Blackhawks needed him to be again. Crawford stopped all 25 shots he faced on Monday. In his last three games – all victories – Crawford held the Lightning, the highest scoring team in the regular season, to just two goals. Said Brandon Saad, “We know who he is. He gets bad press or whatever it is, they can say whatever they want, as a group in there we know what he does. He can steal games for us. He's a big time player. He anchors our team and we love him.”
 
4. Patrick Kane comes through again. Kane, much like Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos, was asked a lot about not scoring throughout this Stanley Cup Final. But when the Blackhawks needed an exclamation-point goal in Game 6, guess who provided it? Kane gave the Blackhawks that insurance goal they needed en route to this third Cup. “I felt so good and I knew I had to step up,” Kane said. “So many guys on our team had already done that during the series so I knew I had to do something. It was great to come in and produce.”
 
5. Three Cups in six seasons means… Some will call it a dynasty. Some won’t want to use that word because the Blackhawks didn’t win them in successive seasons like the NHL’s past dynasties. But in the salary-cap world, we’re using the D word. The Blackhawks just find ways of getting to this point, or close to it, despite the money restrictions and the departure of players. They’ll have to go through it again this offseason. Maybe they don’t get to this point again next season, when they’ll have a lot of youth joining them. But don’t doubt they’ll be back soon.

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!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”