LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With the Stanley Cup finals set to start Wednesday night, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said there's plenty his team can learn from the Chicago Blackhawks, who face the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the series at the United Center.
"I was just talking to some of the guys about the way the Blackhawks have handled their success throughout the season. It's the constant, daily mindset of just trying to get better. That's what you're hearing from their players," Trestman said. "They're a hard-working team. I've watched them play in person and on TV.
"You know, you can learn from the way they've built their team and how they've responded, not only to their success, but also to the periodic adversity they had throughout the year. So as professionals, coaches and athletes, we can learn from them and their success. I think we do watching them play."
A native of Minnesota, and former head coach of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, Trestman grew up a hockey fan.
"I grew up at a time where we didn't have indoor arenas," Trestman said. "I was one of the guys who was shoveling the pond to be able to go skate with my friends. So I've experienced it at that level, grew up with the North Stars, and love hockey and love the game."
Here are a few observations from Wednesday's practice at Halas Hall:
Even with starting receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery out of the mix, quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense fared well in the passing game on Wednesday, after experiencing several up-and-down performances throughout offseason workouts that were open to the media.
"We went pretty much the whole practice with the ball off the ground, a lot of completions," Trestman said. "It's no shoulder pads, obviously. It's not real football to the degree that we're gonna play it in training camp and the season, obviously."
But there's no question the offense showed some promise during Wednesday's practice. Cutler completed throws to tight ends Martellus Bennett and a couple of deep passes to Gabe Miller, in addition to spreading the ball to several receivers -- most notably Earl Bennett deep -- and running back Matt Forte.
"Looking at it today, we made great strides today in terms of the development of our offense and the things we're trying to get done," Trestman said. "The last two days have been very good."
The team's rules for reporting formations, plays and lineups during practices closed to the public prevent us from being too specific here. But let's just say that although the plan is to keep the 2013 defense similar to what the team ran under Lovie Smith, observers can expect to see quite a few wrinkles and disguises.
"We've got some things in," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said, "and we'll use them when we need to."
Speaking of the defense, which hasn't received much publicity because of all that's transpired on offense, Tucker said that schematically everything is in place for the team in the midst of transitioning from Smith's system to the new scheme.
"I feel like we've gotten a good start to what we need to get done going into training camp," Tucker said. "I'm encouraged where we are right now with this group."
Trestman has said all offseason that he wants Devin Hester to focus on the return game. He repeated that sentiment on Tuesday, then again Wednesday. Hester has spent some time working on the defense when the field goal block team is inserted. The reasoning behind that is if the opponent misses a field goal attempt, Hester can scoop up the ball and return it.
Asked about the team giving Hester work on defense, Trestman said the veteran is "just moving around." It was unclear whether the coach was just joking, but it certainly appeared he was.
"If you see him throughout, he's been working with the defensive line," Trestman said. "He's been working with the defensive line. He's picking different groups on the team on both sides of the ball to spend some time with and be involved. His focus is, as I said, on the return game. He's spending a lot of time with (special-teams coach) Joe (DeCamillis) in our meetings."