Bears

Hawks respond to Torres suspension

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Hawks respond to Torres suspension

GLENDALE Marian Hossas gear hung in a locker at Jobing.com Arena, a bit of symbolism and, perhaps, motivation.

And be it his absence, thanks to Raffi Torres 25-game-suspension-earning hit, or the fact that the Blackhawks playoff lives are at stake tonight, theyll need to find all the motivation they can.

The Blackhawks are fighting the uphill battle beginning tonight, as they try to stave off elimination to the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup. And as news of Torres suspension came out, it was little consolation for some.

The reaction (to the suspension) is we lost Hoss, forward Andrew Brunette said. I dont think we get any satisfaction in X amount of games he was suspended. Were missing arguably our best player, and theres no satisfaction in that.

Jonathan Toews said the same.

We take a little satisfaction in seeing some justice there, but Marian Hossa is still at home, not feeling like himself, he said. It doesnt bring him back to our lineup and feel ready.

No, but there has to be motivation or make that desperation. For the second consecutive season theyre facing a steep climb, able to match Phoenix down the stretch in regulation but unable to stop them in three out of four overtimes. The energy level has to be immediate tonight.

Our mindset going into today is, after those two games (at home), we have to find some excitement in our team. We need more pace, more enthusiasm; we have to be all-out desperate tonight, coach Joel Quenneville said. If you look at the smaller picture, its comparable last year when we found a way to work ourselves back (against Vancouver). We have to get some positive encouragement; were at the point where talk isnt going to get it done.

But a pep talk still doesnt hurt. After Quenneville got done with his post-skate talk and the coaches left the ice, the Blackhawks remained and Toews did one of his own. Players werent willing to divulge what was said.

Thats between us as a team, Brendan Morrison said. But obviously hes saying the right things a leader does to get us ready.

Toews said theres some satisfaction in the Torres ruling. But if the Blackhawks dont use that, or their current situation in this series, as motivation, it all rings hollow.

The Blackhawks have all the motivation they need for tonight, be it in a fallen teammates symbolic locker or the brink of elimination. That drive has to come out tonight, or there is no more games for which to get motivated.

We need something to get excited about, Quenneville said. Coming off those two games, we need a win and thats where the excitements got to come from. Weve got to leave it out there.

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”