Marian Hossa is all for it.
The veteran forward was talking about morning skates, and how at least two NHL teams, Colorado and the New York Rangers, have stopped having them for the most part. To Hossa, it sounds like a pretty good idea.
“I’d love it. I wish they’d put it in the CBA,” Hossa said with a laugh.
All kidding and future CBA considerations aside, you wonder if full-team morning skates could become a thing of the past. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy decided this season to not have them, as long as the team practices the day before the game. The New York Rangers started eliminating them in the second half of last season and have continued that this early season.
The Blackhawks are already one of the lighter practicing teams. Coach Joel Quenneville either has short and energetic practices or none at all. So they may not be getting rid of them as quickly as teams that may practice longer and more often.
“You see the way Joel is: He gives us so many days off as far as practice days. It seems like, by the end of the year, we’re a little more fresh than other teams,” Patrick Kane said. “I don’t know. Some guys have their routines where they like to go out there, shoot some pucks, move their feet a little bit. But I think all of us probably wouldn’t be opposed to having that [morning skate] off.”
Considering the few practices the Blackhawks already have, it’s unlikely they’ll get rid of morning skates – at least right now.
“I think if we didn’t have morning skates we’d never practice,” Quenneville said with a grin. “If there’s one thing our team will never be accused of is being worked too hard as far as practice times and days go along. Sometimes we feel if we get the day off before the day of the game, there’s nothing wrong nothing wrong with going out in the morning and getting loosened up, and a goalie needs to see and feel pucks.”
Still, there are always individual exceptions. Quenneville said Joe Sakic, who played for the Colorado Avalanche when Quenneville was an assistant coach and later head coach, usually didn’t participate in morning skates. Some Blackhawks veterans, Hossa and Duncan Keith among them, have taken off skates in the past.
“Some guys, we leave it up to them,” Quenneville said. “But the majority of the time, they don’t mind being up there.”
Jonathan Toews said it depends on the situation whether or not the team should have morning skates.
“If you’ve had a lot of games throughout the week and it’s a back to back, I agree, you don’t have to be on the ice. But sometimes on that game day it’s good to get into that mindset, come to the rink, go through those motions, make sure the body and mind are ready,” Toews said. “We get that treatment where sometimes we don’t get practices the day before, but game days we’re expected to be ready. So it’s either/or. Our coaching staff does a good job of judging that.”
Marcus Kruger understands why some teams are taking that route.
“Every team’s trying to find ways to get advantages and having fresh legs every night,” he said. “It’s such a long season. Teams will try to figure out ways to get that better.”
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So would he be OK if the Blackhawks nixed them?
“If we would do it, I’d be OK with that,” Kruger said with a smile.
Who knows if no morning skates catches on league wide. Every team is always looking for an edge. The Blackhawks don’t sound like they’re going that route right now. The Rangers and Avalanche have chosen to do away with morning skates. Ultimately, be it with those two teams or with other teams, it probably comes down to what the majority of players prefer.
“Everybody’s different. Some guys are used to doing that. But everyone would get used to it if the whole league didn’t have them,” Hossa said. “Me, personally, I wouldn’t miss that. If you practice today, tomorrow we would just come for the game at night. I don’t think it would be a huge deal.”