Blackhawks

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.

NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement on Return to Play plan and CBA extension

NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement on Return to Play plan and CBA extension

One day after finalizing the protocols for Phases 3 and 4, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Monday that they have reached a tentative agreement on the Return to Play plan and Collective Bargaining Agreement extension that runs through the 2025-26 season and includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar.

The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL's Board of Governors as well as the NHLPA's Executive Board followed by the league-wide NHLPA membership vote, which means the process could take roughly three-to-five days to finalize. Until then, it's only unofficially official.

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The NHL released three key dates in advance of the Return to Play plan and CBA ratification:

  • July 13 — Formal training camps open
  • July 26 — Teams travel to hub cities
  • Aug. 1 — Start of qualifying round


If all goes as planned, Blackhawks training camp will open at Fifth Third Arena exactly one week from Monday before the team heads to Edmonton, where they will take on the Oilers in a five-game play-in series.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

On Monday, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews skated with teammates at the Hawks' practice facility for the first time since the NHL paused on March 11.

Teams have been allowed to hold small, voluntary group workouts since June 8 in accordance with the NHL's Return To Play plan. Blackhawks players first started showing up at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago on June 10.

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Patrick Kane and goalie Malcolm Subban, who have been regularly participating in the on and off-ice workouts since they began, were also on the ice with Toews Monday.

Related: Patrick Kane, several Blackhawks return to practice facility

Training camps are scheduled to start on July 13 for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs held in Edmonton and Toronto, the two hub cities.

The postseason, which has the Hawks facing the Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series is slated to begin August 1.