NHL

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What do the Blackhawks need to accomplish at training camp?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What do the Blackhawks need to accomplish at training camp?

SportsTalk Live is at the 11th Annual Blackhawks Convention to talk all things Blackhawks as they get ready for the upcoming season. Corey Crawford makes his first public appearance in several months and the crew sits down with players to discuss where the Blackhawks are headed.

Plus, the Cubs make another trade with the Texas Rangers, this time for starting pitcher Cole Hamels.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 1: Jonathan Toews

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 1: Jonathan Toews

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

The Blackhawks' dynasty may not have officially started until the 2008-09 season, but it began to form in 2006 when they were awarded the No. 3 overall pick after finishing the previous year with the third-fewest points.

With it, they selected University of North Dakota center Jonathan Toews.

Toews broke into the NHL during the 2007-08 season, compiling 54 points (24 goals, 30 assists) in 64 games, good enough to be named one of three Calder Trophy candidates. Toews scored his first NHL goal in his first game with the Blackhawks, getting one past Evgeni Nabokov on his first shot.

And on July 18, 2008, after only one full season in the pros, Toews was named the 34th captain in Blackhawks history and, at the time, the third youngest in NHL history (20 years and 79 days, behind Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier).

Then-head coach Denis Savard surprised Toews with the captain’s sweater in front of loyal fans at that year's Blackhawks Convention.

Toews is also the longest tenured captain in team history. With three Stanley Cups under his belt, in 2017 the NHL Network pegged Toews as the seventh-best captain in NHL history. 

It's not surprising the dynasty started with No. 19.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.