Blackhawks

Hawks, Wings will get very familiar with one another

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Hawks, Wings will get very familiar with one another

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings met, the Blackhawks were fighting for their playoff lives.

Yeah, its been that long.

Nine months after the Blackhawks lost their regular-season finale against the Red Wings, theyll finally finally resume the rivalry when they host Detroit Friday night at the United Center. After all that time, the Blackhawks and Wings will now play each other three times over the next 16 days.

Let the fun begin.

We have them a lot coming up, coach Joel Quenneville said. It seems like division opponents come in bunches. Well see them a lot for sure. There are a lot of things makes them a top team in our conference.

Despite how long its taken for the two to meet this season, the timing is still great. The Blackhawks sit atop the Western Conference standings (and the Central Division) with 50 points. Detroit, just three points behind, is fourth in the conference and second in the division.

The two teams similarities usually lead to good matchups.

Theyre a team thats made up, basically, the same way we are: four lines that can play hockey and push the pace. That makes for some quick, high-paced games and those are fun to play, Viktor Stalberg said. There are going to be a lot of opportunities both ways. Hopefully Corey (Crawford) can come up big again and hopefully we can put some pucks behind (Detroit goalie) Jimmy Howard tomorrow.

Its debatable that the Vancouver Canucks have become the Blackhawks biggest rival. But the one with the Red Wings is still up there and still has its panache. Its just in this one, theres more admiration than animosity.

I dont want to say we look up to them but we definitely respect them and we always look forward to playing them, Patrick Sharp said. Fans will be into (tomorrows game). Its easy to get up for those. The Canucks ones, you dont know whether to hit someone, slash someone or keep your own head up. Those are scary sometimes.

The longtime rivalry is back tomorrow. No, theres not a lot of nasty venom between the two anymore. But proximity, history and the constant battle for the Central title still fuel this fire plenty.

Its kind of fitting that we play them at this time of year, Patrick Kane said. Were both at the top of the standings in the West and have something to play for. Its kind of cool.

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.”