Blackhawks

Young players' impressive camps could mean tough decisions for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Young players' impressive camps could mean tough decisions for Blackhawks

Last week coach Joel Quenneville talked of the Blackhawks’ potential roster, one whose bottom six had several one-way contracts and not a lot of vacancies for young players who may break through. How would those deals, the ones that would force the Blackhawks to potentially put veterans on waivers, impact their decisions?   

“Hockey is always a significant part of it. The business part sometimes adds to it,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes – I don’t want to call it the deal breaker but could be one area that has a big influence on the decision. But we like to be making hockey decisions first.”

Considering how well some of the Blackhawks’ young on-the-bubble players are doing, the hockey and business decisions may be colliding very soon.

John Hayden has been outstanding since the start of camp and had another strong game (and his first preseason goal) in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday night. Alex DeBrincat has also been very good; Quenneville took a look at him on the third line with Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman on Sunday and could revisit that combo again soon. Vinnie Hinostroza is getting another long look.

The Blackhawks have two more preseason games to gauge what they need and want to do, and they’ll take advantage of as many games and practices to see what works best.

“We’ve got some ideas but I still think there are a couple of decisions that need to be made,” Quenneville said. “There’s gotta be personnel decisions, line combinations or defensive pairings that are still open, and there are spots that are open, for sure. I don’t want to put a quantity or number on it, but there is.”

Sure, there are definitely spots to fill on defense – possibly an extra one given Michal Rozsival hasn’t passed his training camp physical (upper body) and his status has not changed. But this is more about the forward lines, which have to weigh one-way contracts of depth veterans against young talent.

The Blackhawks always talk about having more grit in the lineup but the players who have had a mix of skill and grit (guys like Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, Hartman, you get the point) have helped them garner the most success. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks figure out a way to get these young guys in the lineup.

Quenneville’s always said he and the Blackhawks love tough decisions. Right now, they have some.

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.