Blackhawks

Toews still torn about heading overseas

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Toews still torn about heading overseas

Jonathan Toews thinks about it every day -- the possibility of having to play overseas as the NHL lockout continues. And while the Blackhawks captain knows he has options, hes waiting for something to push me over the edge in that direction.

I guess, maybe if its at the point where the NHL has the nerve to cancel the season, then that would be the tipping point right there, Toews said after Wednesdays informal practice. Until then, its still an uncertainty.

Several Blackhawks have been considering overseas options for some time now. Those who have remained here have cited hopes that the NHL and NHLPA will work through their differences and get a new collective bargaining agreement in place. The two sides did meet with a federal mediator on Wednesday.

For Toews, the overseas decision is a tough one. He is certainly missing the routine hed be in during this time of year, the game schedule, the practices, all of it. And the burgeoning lockout frustration doesnt help.

A lot of us have waited patiently so far, he said. But when you constantly see the rejection and lack of negotiation, you get the ugly feeling its not going anywhere. Its a tough thing to do, to sit around and think about it even more.

But Toews is also looking at the other side of it. Hes healthy, hes still doing everything to keep in shape including all those informal practices -- and he wants to do everything he can to ensure hell have a long and healthy career. And not going through a grinding playing schedule has its benefits.

Until now I think Ive taken advantage of the time to take care of my body. I almost see this as an advantage, he said. You play so many games during the year and youre so busy, and this is a sport that takes a tremendous toll on your body. To be sitting on your butt is one thing. But to take advantage of this time off, to make yourself better and take care of your body, thats everything. Thats whats going to get you (not only) where you want to go and perform as well you want to, but to keep doing it for a long time.

Im not thinking of just this year or the next one. Im thinking further down the road than that, Toews said. Its a good thing to take care of yourself that way.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

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

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”