Blackhawks

Stars trying to emulate Blackhawks as much as possible

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Stars trying to emulate Blackhawks as much as possible

Jim Nill said it often, in some form or another, on Saturday. The Dallas Stars have a plan, and that plan includes trying to emulate a certain franchise/trading partner as much as possible.

“I want to say how much respect I have for Chicago,” Nill said. “That’s where we want to get to.”

The Blackhawks have set the bar when it comes to success in the NHL these last few seasons. So in an attempt to beat them, you acquire some of them. That’s what the Stars were looking to do on Friday night, when they traded for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns and sent Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt to the Blackhawks.

[MORE: Patrick Sharp sad to leave Blackhawks, but looking forward to Stars]

In Johns they get a young, up-and-coming defenseman. But even at 33 years old Sharp is a tremendous gain for the Stars. Dallas is still a young team, still trying to find its way back to the winning years when guys like Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov reigned. Sharp brings that winning pedigree and leadership developed during the Blackhawks’ return to greatness.

“You can never have enough guys like that in the organization,” Nill said. “He’s done it at every level, Stanley Cup, world championships. The experience he can bring to a dressing room, he’ll be there to help [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin. We want to get to Chicago’s level.”

[MORE: Stan Bowman: Blackhawks add pieces that 'could help us now']

Nill knows it takes the right mix to achieve championships. He spent 15 seasons as assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, who set the standard before the Blackhawks picked up the title-winning torch in recent years. He said he started talking with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman about 4-6 weeks ago and the right fit was finally made on Friday.

“The more we talked, the more we were looking at a hockey trade. He needed something, I needed something, and we both got what we were looking for,” Nill said. “He needed to replace a top-four defenseman. We wanted leadership for a young room.”

As far as the Blackhawks go, in looking for that top-four defenseman replacement, it sounds like Johnny Oduya won’t be back in Chicago. Bowman left the option open when he talked on Friday night but other things – probably another trade – would have to happen. Re-signing Marcus Kruger remains a top priority.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Stanley Cup Champs gear!]

The Blackhawks wanted to add to what’s already an established group. The Stars wanted to add veteran leadership to a group that’s still finding its way. The Blackhawks have set the standard for what other teams want to be thanks to drafting, developing and getting the right player or two from free agency/trades. Count the Stars among those striving to hit that mark.

“I came from Detroit, and that’s how we were built also,” Nill said. “That’s where we’re trying to get in Dallas.”

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!