Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

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Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
5:37 P.M.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Turns out it wasnt a total day off for the Blackhawks following their worst, most embarrassing loss of the season. Yes, Joel Quenneville kept his players off the ice. But he didnt let them off the hook for their 8-3 whipping by a Columbus team that went into that game ranked 24th in the NHL in offense.

A sign of a good team and we have one here is if someone makes a mistake, youre held accountable, somebody tells you, Adam Burish said after he and the rest of the Hawks got back in their skates for practice Saturday. We had a little meeting yesterday and Q addressed the issues that we had. Some of the guys said a few things to each other. Thats what a team has to do, what a good team does. Maybe thats a reason a day off, too, was good we addressed the issues, talked about it, kinda pulled the elephant out of the bag. There it is, lets address it, lets figure out whats wrong and lets not hide it, not put it away or not talk about it. Address it, get it out on the table. Now..lets put it away and move forward.

Burish spoke in general terms what was discussed. It was the way we played, the way we defended. Just a lot of things. What was said in the meeting, Ill keep it in here. Like I said, it wasnt one guy or one thing, just a combination. The tone was, weve got ten games left to play the way we wanna play play the right way and thats whats gonna carry us into the playoffs.

Youve never seen a team kind of limping into the playoffs, playing garbage hockey in the last ten games, then all of a sudden, play awesome. You know that, so you have to play good going into the playoffs, got to feel good about your game, and have confidence. So weve got to find that. Obviously, Detroits probably playing with a ton of confidence right now and separated themselves for that eighth spot, playing as good as they have all year. So weve got to get to that level.

I think we cant be too happy with what took place the night before, so that needed to be addressed, Joel Quenneville said of Fridays get-together. You cant be happy with a game like that. We play them next. We should be excited about tomorrow.

As Antti Niemi returns to the net Sunday night, Quenneville still wouldnt publicly proclaim him as his number-one goalie after two shutouts his last three starts and Cristobal Huets struggles. I did ask the Head Coach about the popular suggestion making the rounds that with his team in a fight for playoff positioning the final nine games, over 15 days the best way Huet can get his (admittedly shaken) confidence back in time for the post-season would be a handful of games at Rockford.

I dont even think you can do that, but thats not under consideration at all. You want to be playing your best, we know the importance of goaltending. Anttis coming off several sharp games in a row. I think we want to make sure theyre both comfortable and confident. Thats what well be working on.

Niemi would be experiencing his first taste of the NHL playoffs, and his Finnish League post-season experience wasnt anything close to the upcoming grind that begins in just two weeks. The 26-year-old was in net for six playoff games in each of his two seasons with the Pelicans of SM-Liga, and two games for Rockford last spring.

Thats another reason Fridays meeting needs to provide more productive play - and results - on the ice. The way Detroits been playing, the Hawks may well avoid them in the first round, as the Wings could inch up as high as fifth or sixth in the conference playoff standings these next two weeks. But everyone in that locker room seems to be aware of the need to ramp up their own play, no matter whom they face.

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 3 thoughts and takeaways

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 3 thoughts and takeaways

GM Stan Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton met with the media before Wednesday's on-ice session to discuss a variety of prospect-driven topics.

Here are some of the highlights from their availability, in addition to thoughts and takeaways from Day 3 of Blackhawks development camp at Fifth Third Arena:

1. What the Blackhawks are looking for this week

It's easy to get caught up in prospect camp and put stock into on-ice performances, but that's not what the Blackhawks are doing this week. In fact, the on-ice portion is just a fraction of what these players have on the agenda.

"The big thing for us is to watch these kids, how much they can absorb," Bowman said. "We're throwing a lot of information. These are long days for them to have. Seminars in the morning then they come over and do on-ice work, then they do off-ice work and at the beginning of the week we have a cooking demo for them to learn how to prepare food. So at the end of the day it's a full day for them."

Colliton also brought up a valid point about prospects being at different stages in their summer training. Some players are skating for the first time since their seasons ended and are shaking off some rust. Some have already been training for months. Some players had long years because of deep postseason runs. So yeah, this week is not about evaluation.

"We gotta be careful," Colliton said. "This is a snapshot. At training camp and Traverse City it’ll be a much easier job to evaluate how close anyone is."

2. Early impressions of Kirby Dach

The Blackhawks did extensive research on Dach before drafting him No. 3 overall. On the ice, off the ice, analytics, you name it. But they're finally able to spend some time with him under their own roof and see his habits, how he carries himself, etc. and the early impressions are strong from the coaching staff and management.

"It's hard not to notice his skill level," Bowman said. "He's a big guy but he's got really soft hands, he's got that long reach and he's got a quick stick. He's pretty tricky with the puck. He's got the ability to hold it out so that guys can't poke it away and if they try to get it he can pull it through. He's got quick hands. And I think that's what you notice. He skates well for a big guy.

"These are all things that we liked about him when we drafted him but when you get him here and put him up against guys that are a couple years older, he's able to do some special things with the puck. He's got all the excitement to be on the ice, he's a competitive kid, he's focused, but he's enjoying himself and he's got a combination of attributes that we wish everybody had."

Said Colliton: "It’s tough not to notice him out there. Big, big kid who skates really well, got a lot of skill, makes a lot of things happen out there and seems to have a great work ethic and be a great kid. ... He’s been impressive, for sure."

3. Adam Boqvist turning pro?

When we talked to him on Monday, Boqvist made it known that he wanted to turn pro as quickly as possible and felt ready for it after one season in the OHL with the London Knights. And it seems like the management group is ready for that to happen, also.

"We're probably leaning towards that," Bowman said. "I don't know that we've made any declarations that's what he's going to do. In talking to Adam I think he wants to take that next step. It's probably looking like that, but nothing's been determined for sure."

4. Blackhawks accepting of Ian Mitchell's decision

After his sophomore season at Denver, Mitchell had a decision to make: turn pro or return to college for another year? 

The Blackhawks felt like he was ready to take the next step. Perhaps Mitchell felt so too, but returning to school for one more season, in his eyes, allows him to hone his craft even more and become a better all-around, consistent player before making the jump. That's why he made the decision to go back for one more season, and the Blackhawks are accepting of that.

"You got to give him credit," Bowman said. "He feels like there's unfinished business and I think he's committed to the team and committed to his teammates. He wants to lead that team and he wants to be, in his words, a difference-maker every night. I thought he had a great season last year and selfishly we think he's ready to be a pro. On the other side of it, you got to be where you are. So if he feels the right place for him is Denver then you want to be committed to that and you want him to lead that team and you want him to continue to improve.

"I think what we're looking for him to do is build on that and become a dominant player like he wants to be. Yeah, we would love to have him as a pro right now but I think he's going to be a pro pretty soon. So let him focus on his path. He has to believe in what he's doing and it's not for us to try to talk him in and out of things. Wherever he is, we're going to support him. But he's ready to be a pro right now. With a year in college as a dominant player he'll be even more ready to be a pro."

5. Looking for the next Collin Delia?

The Blackhawks brought six goalies to development camp. Two of them are draft picks — Dominic Basse and Alexis Gravel. The other four are here on invites: Devin Cooley, Stefanos Lekkas, Mareks Mitens and Zackarias Skog. They don't have to look far to see that an impressive showing could turn into a contract.

This is exactly how Delia caught the attention of the Blackhawks.

"We did this a couple years ago with Collin Delia and now look where Collin is," Bowman said. "I think that's the message to these players is you're here for a reason because we think you've got skill and potential as a goalie, and we want to see how you perform this week, how do you take feedback, what's your work ethic like and then we're going to follow them.

"It's not out of the realm that a couple years from now these guys could become Blackhawks. They're not all going to fall into that category but if they show well and they impress us, I think Collin came back two years in a row and then we signed him so these guys are here to try to impress us and show us that they could become Blackhawks."

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Jeremy Colliton on Blackhawks offseason additions and how he plans to handle Crawford-Lehner workload

Jeremy Colliton on Blackhawks offseason additions and how he plans to handle Crawford-Lehner workload

It's mid-July and the Blackhawks' roster looks very different from when it ended the 2018-19 season. GM Stan Bowman has added an influx of new faces this summer, whether that's been in the form of trades or free-agent signings.

Now it's up to Jeremy Colliton and his coaching staff to decide how they want to map out the lineup. They might have an idea of how they want to utilize specific players, but the real competition starts in training camp and that's exactly what the organization wants.

"Yeah, we’ve done a lot," Colliton said before Wednesday's on-ice session at development camp. "We’ve really increased the depth in our group, everywhere. In goal, on defense, up front, we have competition throughout the roster for roster spots, for roles. I think we have more versatility to our team, we have defenders who can play either side, we have guys who want to kill penalties and defend and take that role, we have forwards who can play different positions, kill penalties, play against good players. So we feel that’s what we were missing to our team."

"We’ve added a little bit of physicality and an edge, which we need to have that dimension. We have to win games in different ways, and I think if you compare the roster now to the one we ended with or the one we had when I first came in November, I think we can win in different ways and we’re prepared to have an excellent season, hopefully."

One of the main storylines to follow during the 2019-20 season will be how the goaltending workload is divided between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner. You have a two-time Stanley Cup winner and Vezina Trophy finalist to share the starts with, and Colliton expects it to be a healthy battle among the two veteran netminders.

"There's going to be competition, certainly," Colliton said. "But I think you look at the teams that have had success, there has been a share — some sort of split. It's not 60, 70 games one guy's taking. Those games that maybe traditionally the backup is playing, we need to win those too. So now whoever is in the net, we're going to get an extremely high level of performance. And if we happen to be unlucky with injuries, we have some protection there too."

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