Blackhawks

Myers: From here on, every game counts

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Myers: From here on, every game counts

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011
4:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Ah, home sweet home. For the Chicago Blackhawks so far this season, its been anything but. Whether theyve gotten into startstop mode too often, gotten too pretty or just havent shown up at all, the Madhouse has been maddening.

Well, now theyre going into enemy territory for a while. A long while, it seems. The Blackhawks will play 19 of their next 31 on the road, including this five-game trip that takes them through Western Canada and the southwest U.S. If the Blackhawks are going to be successful on it, they are going to have to get back to that simple, hard-hat hockey that fared so well for them on their Circus Trip back in November.

And theyre going to have to live by their own mantra: from here on out, every game truly does count.

We went into the break disappointed, so lets channel our energy in a proper way, coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the Blackhawks 7-4 victory over Columbus on Tuesday. You want to make sure guys are focused and youre ready to start.

The Blackhawks victory over the Blue Jackets exemplifies what these final 31 are probably going to be like: tough, sometimes mucky, fights to the end. Shaking off All-Star break rust and overcoming two deficits, the Blackhawks gritted one out. It came with no style points.

None of the remaining games should have style points. The Blackhawks just need to play hard, 60-minute games.

They need Patrick Kane to get his scoring going again. Same for Marian Hossa. They need Patrick Sharp to keep doing what hes been doing. Same for Jonathan Toews. They need both their goaltenders, Marty Turco and Corey Crawford, playing every night like theyre trying to grab the No. 1 job away from the other. They need their defense to be as sound as it was last season.

As Quenneville said, lets make sure theres a purpose. We all want to max out no matter what the situation.

Entering Thursday nights games, the Blackhawks were eighth in the Western Conference with 58 points. Four through seven are Nashville (61), San Jose (60), Anaheim (60) and Phoenix (59). Can they leap into fourth place with a couple of victories? Sure. Can they fall just as fast with some bad games? Absolutely.

The Blackhawks have been inconsistent this year. Ill argue the entire conference has been, save Vancouver and Detroit. You dont get a logjam like the one were seeing because everyones running on all cylinders.

For as much as the Blackhawks have squandered, they still have more than enough opportunities to climb back near the top. Theyve got to put their hard hats on again. Theyve got to play 60-minute games every night. And theyve got to embrace the road-game mentality every minute, every second.

The road beckons once more. The Blackhawks have some time to bond, regroup and recognize the task at hand. They can get there with simple, hard-played hockey.

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

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.