Former Blackhawks G Antti Raanta reflects, gets his Cup ring


Former Blackhawks G Antti Raanta reflects, gets his Cup ring

Antti Raanta hadn’t even gotten to the visiting locker room at the United Center when Blackhawks vice president Al MacIsaac pulled him aside.

“He came to me when I came through the hallway and just said, ‘I have something for you,’” said Raanta, who got his Stanley Cup ring from MacIsaac. “It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful. I don’t know if I should put it on my finger because it’s so heavy. I don’t know if I can carry it. It’s unbelievable.”

Raanta was his usually cheerful self on Wednesday morning, a few hours before his new team, the New York Rangers, faced his former team in the season opener. It was an interesting summer for Raanta, who got married, got traded and got some flack for heat-of-the-moment comments he made to a Finnish magazine about late-season angst he was feeling here. Raanta said he hopes people understand he was just expressing how he felt at that time.

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“I didn’t want to say anything bad about the Hawks," Raanta said. "I understand the fans can be little disappointed in me. But hopefully they understand I wasn’t thinking that the whole playoff time. It was one hour in one day. When you’re frustrated, you have a lot of things going on in your mind. Hopefully everybody understands that and hopefully after this night everybody can forget that. We have a new season and new team here, so I’m focusing on that now and going every day, trying to be better.”

When the Blackhawks staff and player names on the Stanley Cup were unveiled a few weeks ago, Raanta’s wasn’t there. Raanta said he found out about that from friends.

“I didn’t know what to think about that,” Raanta said. “There are a number of how many names you can put on there. It’s not there so it’s not there. I know I was part of the team, so that’s good enough. What are you going to do about that?”

Asked if getting that Cup ring is consolation for no name on the Cup, Raanta laughed.

“Yeah, it’s pretty nice,” he said with a smile. “It was nice to see Al and Mark (Bernard, Rockford IceHogs general manager). They were happy to see me and gave me the ring. I have to keep an eye on that ring now.”

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Raanta is settling into life with the Rangers now. He’s learning from Henrik Lundqvist and is looking forward to the backup opportunity in New York. In two NHL moves he’s gotten to live in two of the biggest and best cities in the nation. Not a bad deal, really.

“I had a great two years in Chicago. Now it’s New York. I was first thinking, ‘I can’t get any bigger than Chicago.’ Then you get a phone call that you’re going to New York and I thought, ‘OK, that’s a little bigger,’” Raanta said. “Everybody’s been helpful there. Everyone was helpful here. I’m a pretty lucky guy.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.