Blackhawks

Kane back from Switzerland, hopes to stay in Chicago

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Kane back from Switzerland, hopes to stay in Chicago

Patrick Kane enjoyed his time over in Switzerland, enjoyed playing some actual hockey games these past few months. And while hes set to go back on Sunday if need be, Kanes hoping he doesnt have to.

Kane is back in Chicago while Swiss teams take a break, and joined past and present Blackhawks at their informal skate on Wednesday. And with optimism building that the lockout will soon be over, Kane hopes hell be lacing them up for Blackhawks training camp instead of heading back overseas.

Its tough to tell, to be honest with you with the whole thing. I was getting texts last week telling me Pack your bags. So Im not going to speculate anymore until someone tells me its done, Kane said after practice. But it would be nice not to have to go back Sunday, stay here and get ready for a training camp.

More: NHL, NHLPA to resume talks Wednesday

Yes, weve all been down the close-but-not-close road with the NHL-NHLPA talks. But there really does seem to be growing optimism as the two sides meet with mediators in an undisclosed location which is now reportedly New Jersey.

But during the nonstop lack of negotiation progress and there were months of that -- Kane was staying sharp. It was an experience, and a good on-ice one.

It was different, from the way you play in the 'D' zone to the bigger ice surface to playing with different players, too, he said. It was definitely different. But it was still hockey, I was still playing, and it really helped me get into shape and get my game where I want it to be.

Outside of hockey, life in Biel, Switzerland, was pretty quiet. He and fellow NHLers were recognized there mainly because the cars they drove had the team logo on it but it was otherwise a quiet time.

It wasnt bad. It was really peaceful, Kane said. The toughest part was the language barrier. First language is German, then French, and they speak some English. It was tough to communicate over there. But everyone on the team speaks English, and it was nice having my mom there for a while to make me a meal and just help me with certain things."

More: Mayers says NHL, NHLPA are close, remain optimistic

If Kane does go back, he wont be going with his mom again. He said hell bring his girlfriend. He also said, if the lockout continues, hell also play for HC Davos in Spengler Cup, Dec. 26-31 in Switzerland.

But Kane hopes the lockout is resolved soon, that hes staying put in Chicago for a while, and that hell be prepping for training camp instead of another overseas flight.

Its something you dont really want to do. You want it to be over and done with, Kane said. Its an experience Ill never forget but life is much better here. You dont realize how good you have it here with training staff, equipment managers; youre taken care of so well. But Im glad I did it.

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

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AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: