Blackhawks

Youthful energy 'contagious' for Blackhawks

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Youthful energy 'contagious' for Blackhawks

Theres a vibe going through the Chicago Blackhawks locker room with the arrival of rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw. Its an energy, an exuberance that the young upstart guys have provided.

And as the Blackhawks trudge through the toughest part of this long NHL season, its an energy level they appreciate having.

Sometimes, between games 40 and 60 its such a long period of time. Now all of a sudden we have the new blood, Marian Hossa said. Theyve brought something, a little life to our team again. And you can tell right now. Were rolling four lines and you feel the energy.

When teams reach this point of the season, it can drag a bit. Its not the first 20 games, when everyones excited to start the new campaign. Its not the final 20, when everyones gearing up and pushing for the playoffs. Its the middle of the season, when finding the energy, especially mentally, is a bit trickier.

So enter the rookies, who are damn happy to be here every day. Shaw said it himself on Wednesday night: he and Hayes dont want to get reassigned. Theyre living the dream, and the excitement theyre feeling is resonating through the locker room.

Especially at this time of the year, injecting these guys in your lineup you get an energy and an enthusiasm in practice that keeps everybody young, coach Joel Quenneville said. I think its easy to add that type of element to your team. You could use it right now and I think you notice it as well.

The veteran players are noticing it, too.

This is a tough part of the year; were not quite at the end of the season, were past the beginning and its always a grind. But certainly in the tight race were in, in the Central Division and Western Conference, that energy keeps us on our toes, Jamal Mayers said.

What Hayes and Shaw have brought on the ice has certainly been noticed. The exuberant attitude theyve brought to practices, skates and to the locker room is welcomed, too.

Its contagious, Mayers said. Thats what young guys are supposed to bring: the excitement of being in the NHL. And you can see it in their eyes. Theyre not just happy to be here, but theyve got that excitement and theyve realized their dream to be here. Thats infectious.

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.”