Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews cautiously optimistic he’ll return soon

Jonathan Toews cautiously optimistic he’ll return soon

Jonathan Toews talked with some optimism but not certainty.

He hopes that his back injury is improving for good this time. He hopes he’ll be with the Blackhawks when they head to New York this week.

“The frustrating thing is you keep getting asked the question and you feel like the next game is going to be the game you’re getting back and there’s only so many times you can keep giving yourself and others bad news,” said Toews.

You can understand Toews’ frustration. After suffering his injury on Nov. 23 in San Jose, Toews skated on Dec. 2 and thought he was going to return soon. Then he was kept off the ice when the injury wasn’t getting any better; Sunday marked the first time in more than a week that Toews has skated.

Again, it’s all about being careful. Toews is encouraged by his latest go-around, at least immediately following it. “It’s almost just putting pressure and just trying anything that I could out there to do those uncomfortable movements, and I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said.

Coach Joel Quenneville reiterated the proceed-with-caution mantra.

“It’s certainly good to get him on the ice. We feel he can be close but we want to make sure there’s some certainty that he’s going to be fine and we’re not going to go backward on this one,” he said. “So let’s make sure we’re all clear going forward.”

The Blackhawks have done all right in the meantime, going 4-2-2 in Toews’ absence. They’ve also been without Corey Crawford for four of those games and Brent Seabrook for one. All three are out tonight against the Dallas Stars.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It’s been frustrating for Toews to sit and just watch these last few weeks. He’s hopeful that he’s finally turning the corner but until that’s for certain, he’s going to concentrate on what he can do to get better.

“I guess that’s always a tough thing when you feel like you’re getting close and all of a sudden you get back on the ice and you realize you’re still a ways off from being ready to play in a game,” Toews said. “[You know] that you need to get back to doing what you were doing to try and recover and make sure you are making progress and you’re not digressing on the ice.”

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan knew that the Carolina Hurricanes had a logjam on defense going into this summer and that somebody was going to be dealt to create a spot. The move was also driven by financial reasons as the Hurricanes look to re-sign a handful of players, most notably Sebastian Aho.

He just wasn't expecting it to be his name on the move.

"I'm still kind of in shock, to be honest," de Haan said on Tuesday's conference call. "I didn’t think it was going to be me. After Carolina signed me last summer my fiancée and I thought we were going to have some roots there, but I get it, it’s a business. Looking back on it now, it’s only been 16 hours or whatever, but it’s been a whirlwind. I’m really looking forward to it now. Obviously Stan [Bowman] and the Blackhawks made a deal for me and I feel like I’m wanted and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with this organization."

De Haan, who signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with Carolina last offseason, admitted that the Blackhawks didn't show any interest in him when he was an unrestricted free agent. But he's excited about being in an organization that values his services, and the feeling is mutual because he's filling an immediate need on the back end for the Blackhawks: a player who can log big minutes, is a sound stay-at-home defenseman and can play an effective role on the penalty kill.

Jeremy Colliton, who was the captain for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers during de Haan's rookie season in the pros from 2011-12, will certainly appreciate what his former teammate brings to the table.

"I just like to think my position’s good," de Haan said of his game. "I like to think I move well on the ice. I’ve always tried to play a simple game. I saw some tweets yesterday that I might be the next best thing to Nik Hjalmarsson that the Blackhawks have had in a while, so that’s a compliment. That guy’s had a great career and that’s a player I like to play like. Nothing flashy, just kind of get the job done and I hope Blackhawk fans will really appreciate my game. It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season."  

De Haan underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in May — exactly five weeks from Tuesday — and was given a four-to-six month timeline, putting his availability for training camp and the season opener in jeopardy. But he's hoping to be cleared by the time training camp rolls around in September and be ready to go for the season opener on Oct. 4 in Prague.

"Things are progressing well," de Haan said. "I like to think I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve had shoulder surgeries in the past as well where I know how this goes and I’m gonna make sure I’m ready for camp. Then it’s going to be up to the training staff and the doctors whether they want me to play or take a few weeks here and there and just progress slowly. But my main goal is to be ready for camp. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. I want to be on the ice with the guys and out there grinding away and try to get the team back in the playoffs."

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Blackhawks release 2019-20 schedule: Notes and five games to circle

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2019-20 schedule: Notes and five games to circle

The Stanley Cup Final is over. The NHL Draft is in the books. Free agency still looms, but Chicago can officially start looking ahead to next season.

The Blackhawks, in conjunction with the rest of the league, released their 2019-20 schedule on Tuesday so it's time to get out the sharpie and mark your calendars. 

Some quick notes:

— The Blackhawks' longest homestand of the season is seven games, from Oct. 10-24. They also have a five-game homestand from March 22-31.

— The longest road trip of the season is five games, from Feb. 9-16. They also have two four-game road trips from Oct. 29-Nov. 5 and Feb. 23-Feb. 29.

— The Blackhawks have 16 back-to-back games. They had 14 last season.

— Single-game tickets for the team's regular-season home games will go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 12 p.m. on blackhawks.com. The Blackhawks are currently accepting deposits for groups, 21-Game Mikita Plans and 9-Game Hull Plans. Any fans interested can visit blackhawks.com/tickets or call 312-455-7000.

— NBC Sports Chicago is now the exclusive carrier for all local game broadcasts. The complete broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here are five dates to circle for the 2019-20 season, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. Friday, Oct. 4 at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. — Season opener in Prague

As part of the 2019 NHL Global Series, the Blackhawks play an exhibition game in Berlin on Sept. 29 before heading to Prague, where they will kick off the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers. It's the first time the Blackhawks are beginning a season overseas since the 2009-10 campaign when they were in Helsinki, Finland. They went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

2. Thursday, Oct. 10 vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m. — Home opener

After a five-day break to get reacclimated to the North American time zone, the Blackhawks will take the ice at the United Center for the first time against the Erik Karlsson-led Sharks on Oct. 10. The Blackhawks are 5-2-1 in their last eight home openers.

3. Monday, Dec. 2 vs. St. Louis, 7:30 p.m. — First look at defending Stanley Cup champions

The Blackhawks-Blues rivalry has always felt a little one-sided, but that's not the case anymore. The Blues ended a 52-year championship drought by defeating the Boston Bruins and planted their mark in the Central Division as the team to beat. Expect there to be a little more juice to this rivalry as the Blues look to keep their flag planted in the ground and the Blackhawks aim to make their presence felt within the division again.

4. Tuesday, Jan. 21 vs. Florida, 7:30 p.m. — Joel Quenneville's return to Chicago

This is the game everyone is waiting for. It will be the first time Chicago will get a chance to welcome Quenneville back to Chicago after he helped bring the city three Stanley Cups, and became the second-winningest NHL coach of all-time in the process. 

What could make this game even more interesting: If former Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin joins Quenneville's team in South Florida this summer. The Blackhawks will make their visit to Florida on Saturday, Feb. 29 for a 5 p.m. puck drop.

5. Saturday, April 4 at N.Y. Rangers, 12 p.m. — Closing out at The Garden

For the first time in a while, the Blackhawks will be wrapping up the season on the east coast. And there could be some real playoff implications at stake here, for both teams. The iconic Madison Square Garden isn't a bad place to end things off.

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