Blackhawks

Not so fast, Hawks survive off Bolland's boost

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Not so fast, Hawks survive off Bolland's boost

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Posted: 9:45 p.m. Updated: 11:17 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Dave Bolland went through weeks of dreadful times as he worked through a concussion. On Tuesday he was back doling out that misery to the Vancouver Canucks.

Bolland had a goal and three assists and Patrick Sharp had two goals as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Canucks 7-2 in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series. The Blackhawks, boosted by Bollands return and fueled by Brent Seabrooks absence, were flying from the start and kept the pressure on Vancouver throughout the night.

WATCH: How did everything click in Game 4?

(It was a) huge boost, coach Joel Quenneville said. Not just his return to the lineup but that he had some enthusiasm with the quality and quantity of ice time. He had a special night.

The Blackhawks needed motivation to stave off elimination on Tuesday and they got it from several sources. They were frustrated that Seabrook was out after taking a shoulder-to-head hit from Vancouver forward Raffi Torres in Game 3. They were down 3-0. And Bolland, a constant thorn in the Canucks side was back. It all led to the Blackhawks most complete and dominating game of the series.

We played for each other tonight. If we do that, weve got the confidence now that things can go our way, Jonathan Toews said. There was a lot of motivation for our team. We want to play for each other, for guys like Seabs. That was our way of showing a little payback, especially in our own building.

For Bolland, there was no doubt he was coming back for this one. He had taken tests more than a week ago and failed, but he said doctors told him hed be ready around this time. He took and passed the necessary protocol this morning while his teammates participated in skate. Any doubt he was ready was erased pretty quickly as he and linemates Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik were stellar.

Hes a great player and he showed it tonight, said Frolik, who had a goal and an assist. We had a little chemistry tonight. Hopefully itll keep working.

As for fatigue, Bolland was feeling none of it.

There was no rust to dust off, Bolland said. The first game back is always the one you worry about. I remember coming off back surgery, I was gasping for air on the first one. The speed is tough. But I was training and kept conditioning up (this time).

Bickell had a goal and Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell scored 17 seconds apart in the second period.

The Blackhawks played as a team on Tuesday night. They played for injured teammates as much as those in the lineup with them. And several players and Quenneville said they felt no pressure coming into Game 4. They also dont expect any for Game 5.

We feel if we keep getting better and that puts us in the right spot, Quenneville said. Weve improved every single game. There were some good things that happened tonight but we still havent played our best. Weve got confidence in our team game. Thats a proud bunch.

For Bolland, his personal concussion hell is over. On Tuesday he was just back to giving others headaches.
Chris Campoli and Ryan Johnson get into a scrum late in the third period of Game 4. Things got chippy near the end, but no Vancouver player would drop the gloves with Blackhawks enforcer John Scott. (US PRESSWIRE)
I was just hoping for the win, Bolland said. I didnt think Id get four points. But I got both so it was a fun night.
Have a nice day

John Scott and Raffi Torres left late in the third period after they both received 10-minute misconducts. The duo never scrapped, but apparently yapped at each other instead.

Scott said it was just a little friendly banter.

I just asked him how his familys doing, Scott said. It was a good conversation. We got 10 minutes for having a nice conversation.

Torres said Scott asked him for a scrape.

I think he just said he wanted to beat me up so I was like, OK, great, good for you, Torres told reporters.

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

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.