Blackhawks

Hossa primed for a big year

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Hossa primed for a big year

Marian Hossa finally got a restful summer.

The Chicago Blackhawks right wing had basically played four seasons' worth of hockey in three, thanks to back-to-back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances. It had taken it's toll. So as disappointed as he was in that the Blackhawks' run ended early last season, he appreciated the chance to rest, get away from the game and train the way he wants.

And just two games in, it's showing.

Hossa did everything but score a goal in his first two games, and that is something that coach Joel Quenneville has appreciated in Hossa all along. Hossa has a complete game, one that's as strong defensively as it is offensively. And the points will get there soon enough.

"You can look at the stat sheet, but whether he scores or not you know he has the puck, he strips people of it, he protects it, he has it and his positioning is always strong," Quenneville said. "He does some amazing things out there. That's how I appreciate what he brings to our team."

Hossa didn't miss a beat despite joining the Blackhawks five days after training camp began and he's been one of the team's top performers in their first two games. He recorded eight shots in Dallas and looks as fit and energetic as ever.

"Mentally and physically, it takes a toll whether it's one summer (of a lot of hockey) or three. For a guy like that (the long break) makes a huge difference," Jonathan Toews said. "Whether you increase expectations or not, he looks good out there. I think he's ready to play his best hockey and that's only going to help us."

And as much as everyone would like to see the high point totals immediately, Hossa is also aiming for another big number elsewhere.

"For sure I would like to play 80, 82 games. That would be my goal," he said recently. "Because I had the longer summer and recovery program, hopefully that helps."

His speed and strength have been evident from the outset. When the Blackhawks went with seven defensemen instead of 12 forwards in their season opener, Hossa double-shifted. He's also found chemistry with Patrick Kane, whose move to center gave the Blackhawks the chance to get the two together. Kane said he's noticed how the summer has benefitted Hossa.

"He looks like he has a powerful stride this year," Kane said. "He's a great backchecker and great defensive player stripping other guys. I'm just happy to be playing with a guy like that and hopefully I just get him the puck in good areas. He looks fast, he looks strong, he looks ready like he's ready to have a big year."

There's no reason to think Hossa won't have a big year again. He had time to recover from those injuries that plagued him the past few seasons. His complete game. A plethora of points shouldn't be far behind.

"I think he's got surprise shots on the ice; he's so quick," said Michael Frolik. "I know he hasn't scored but it's just about that time. He had eight shots in Dallas. It's going to go in soon."

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

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.”