Blackhawks

More of the same for NHL, NHLPA; what's next?

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More of the same for NHL, NHLPA; what's next?

Another week has gone by. And it was another week of no progress between the NHL and NHLPA. Talking to each other, talking with a mediator, it doesnt matter: the lockout drags on, reaching Day 76 on Friday.

So where do the league and players association go from here?

Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested that the league and PA brass stay out of the next negotiation session, allowing owners and players to meet without them. The NHLPA did have an internal conference call planned today; as of this writing, theres been no report of whether or not itll go with Bettmans suggestion.

The two sides are running out of ideas to get something done. The only thing they seem to agree on is that theyre far apart.

So what about decertification? The NHLPA has discussed it internally; and considering how things have gone, it may be the next step. Players have their own thoughts on the possibility.

It makes sense when this lockout has gone this long and theres been no movement from the NHL and massive concessions from the players, Blackhawks defenseman and player representative Steve Montador said recently. Its unfortunate that we have to consider such measures, but its a serious one.

Jonathan Toews said decertification is an option. Im not sure if its the most imminent choice right now. But at some point the players have certain negotiating tactics that we need to use. Up until now its been a waiting game. Waiting to see if the NHL means business, if they have the nerve to take it as far as they have. Here we are almost in December, and they look like they couldnt care less.

A lot of people on the outside think the players are standing up for something that doesnt really mean anything, that in the end and in the future its not a lot of money. But it goes beyond that, Toews said. If we agree upon a six-year deal right now, whos to say the league wont try this again in six years? As players, we need to be strong and show them that, it doesnt matter what the terms are. We work hard for our contracts and work hard to get to where we are and to put on a show for the fans every single night. Theres a massive price to pay to get to this level. And (being) pushed around by our employer isnt going to happen.

The National Basketball Players Association went that route last year. On Nov. 10, 2011, the NBA issued a proposal to the NPBA, which the latter group rejected. A few days later, the NPBA voted to go forward with decertification. On Nov. 26, 2011, the two sides reached a tentative deal; 12 days later the NBAs board of governors ratified the deal and, on Christmas Day, the NBA was back.

Players are hoping that, if they take the decertification route, a quick resolution would come in the NHL, too.

Right now, its a viable option for us, Troy Brouwer said earlier this week. If nothing is going to push the owners to even want to negotiate, maybe this will force their hand. Were discussing it internally. I dont know if itll be our next move, but its definitely in the dialogue. If its our most viable option, well move toward it and get the process started.

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.”