Blackhawks

President Barack Obama honors Blackhawks for Stanley Cup victory

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President Barack Obama honors Blackhawks for Stanley Cup victory

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama held up his latest gift from the Blackhawks, something that anyone who’s been around the construction-laden United Center lately could appreciate.

A United Center parking pass.

“This is really cool,” the president said to laughs. “I might sell this on eBay.”

The Blackhawks made their third visit to the White House in six years — all during Obama’s administration — to celebrate another Stanley Cup victory. This year’s ceremony was much like that in 2014, the president giving a 10-minute speech to honor the Blackhawks. Current Blackhawks who were not on the team last year also attended, sitting in the audience during the ceremony.

[MORE HAWKS: President recognizes Darling, Timonen]

“I think this one was the best we’ve had so far, the representation; a really historic today,” Blackhawks president John McDonough said. “Just being around the president, his aura, how warm he is with everyone, and to see some of our players who weren’t with us last year experience this and the desire to be part of this going forward.”

The ceremony had its light moments, from that parking pass “gift” to Obama saying the Stanley Cup should probably stick around the White House for a certain upcoming event.

“We have a state dinner with Canada coming up,” he said. “So we may just leave it right in the middle of the room.”

Even Jonathan Toews had to grin at that one.

“Yeah, that’s one of those things I have to let slide,” Toews said after the ceremony. “I didn’t know if I can make a comeback to that one.”

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

The Blackhawks have enjoyed a remarkable run of success these last few years. It’s a far cry from where this organization was about 10 years ago.

“Maybe the two words that are the most impactful are when they say, ‘Welcome back.’ And now that we’ve been here three times it never gets old, never enough, and we’d love to come back one more time during President Obama’s regime,” McDonough said. “What a classy guy; just so incredibly smooth and easy with people. It’s a great tribute to all of our players, all of our coaches, everyone in our organization. This is just so inspiring to be a part of this today.”

And as for that parking pass, it was owner Rocky Wirtz’s idea.

“I thought it would be fun, keep it lighter,” Wirtz said. “Who else can give the president a parking pass for the United Center?”

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!