Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya happy to be back in Blackhawks' fold

Johnny Oduya happy to be back in Blackhawks' fold

Johnny Oduya returned to Chicago on Wednesday excited at what he repeatedly called his "second chance." Apparently, the feeling was mutual to some in the city.

"Coming into the airport, picking up my bag from the baggage claim there was a little note saying welcome back from the guys working there. Little things like that, it's very special," Oduya said. "As a player you feel very humbled and it's a fun thing."

Oduya met with the media on Wednesday afternoon, about 24 hours after the Blackhawks acquired him from the Dallas Stars for a fourth-round conditional pick in the 2018 NHL draft and Mark McNeill. For Oduya, who was part of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup championships here, the opportunity to go for another with a very familiar group of friends and teammates is enticing.

"It's always tough to leave a situation where we had in Dallas. Tough year, I think for everybody. You feel some of that disappointment," Oduya said of a Stars team that struggled with injuries and consistency this season. "But for me to get a second chance so to say for this year, obviously to come back here with a lot of players that I played with, [to] a city I know pretty good, I feel like I got a second chance, yeah, absolutely."

The Blackhawks, who talked prior to Oduya arriving on Wednesday, were as ready for a reunion as Oduya was.

"We love that guy," Corey Crawford said. "He works hard and you know he's a great teammate to have. He battles hard, blocks shots and can obviously do a lot for you offensively. We're excited to get him back."

Now to get back up to speed, be it with the Blackhawks' system or his individual game. Oduya re-aggravated an ankle injury in January and missed about a month. He returned to the Stars' lineup on Sunday, when he played what proved to be his final game of the season with them. Now Oduya said he feels good and, as he progresses here he doesn't foresee the ankle being an issue. He'll practice on Thursday and go from there.  

Told coach Joel Quenneville would probably pair him with Niklas Hjalmarsson again, Oduya was on board with that. 

"Hammer's probably the top defensive player league. Any chance you get to play with someone like that, I think that's a good thing," Oduya said. "You need to produce the results too. I don't think you want to live in whatever you think you've done before. I think all of us want to move forward. You want to get better. I want to know the guys in the room and kind of fuse into the group as much as I can even though I've been here before. It's going to be a little bit of a learning process, but I want it to be as quick as possible."

The Blackhawks went the reunion angle at last year's trade deadline, too, although the hope of Andrew Ladd helping the Blackhawks' playoff hopes didn't come to fruition. The Blackhawks, however, are in a different situation this season. They aren't relying on one player to come in and change things exponentially. They're looking for someone to bolster the depth they already have. Oduya should do that just fine.

"That's huge, especially this part of the year," Marian Hossa said of reacquiring Oduya. "you don't have to go through the system too much with him, just refresh some things. It's just nice to have a guy like that back."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: It's time to be active in the change

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: It's time to be active in the change

Pat Boyle is joined by Charlie Roumeliotis, Scott King, Nick Gismondi, Slavko Bekovic and Tony Gill to discuss the George Floyd murder, the protests around the country and how to be an active participant in the change for equality for all.

Listen here or below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Jonathan Toews releases powerful statement on George Floyd's death, mass protests

Jonathan Toews releases powerful statement on George Floyd's death, mass protests

Chicago athletes — both former and current, including Michael Jordan — have been speaking out following the death of George Floyd and the mass protests that ensued over the weekend. Jonathan Toews joined that group on Monday, sharing a powerful statement on Instagram.

Here's what the Blackhawks captain had to say:

View this post on Instagram

A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction. But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air. I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago. Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart. I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t? Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on. My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue. Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all. #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction.

But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air.

I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago.

Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart.

I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t?

Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on.

My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue.

Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? 
Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all.

#blacklivesmatter

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.