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Hawks notebook: Not focusing on repeat

9/12/2013

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Chicago Blackhawks obviously want to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews just didn't think Wednesday, the first day of training camp, was the time to be focused on that.

"When you win the Stanley Cup and you come in the following season, it's happened to us twice now, the talk is always going to be about repeating," Toews said at a news conference at the University of Notre Dame. "We kind of understand that. But we know that we don't really want to be talking about that yet. It's a long ways away. Like we said, we got to focus on the start of the season and not making the mistakes we made last time.

"Once we get to building ourselves up as a team the way we did last year and preparing ourselves for the playoff run, we want to put ourselves in a position come playoff time to be that team that can compete for it again. But we know with what happened last year, we know there's a lot of pressures, a lot of things that play into that. That's our goal for now. We believe that we can be that team that has a chance to [repeat] and can be one of those motivating factors."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp also said he thought he and his teammates had moved on from last season's success and the trophy that accompanied it.

"If you ask the players, the three of us [Duncan Keith, Toews and himself], we're certainly done with [the Stanley Cup]," Sharp said. "We enjoyed it. We had our fun with it. But we're focused on starting a new season and kind of turning the page on what happened last year. Personally, I'm done with it. I had a great time; my family and friends enjoyed it. But I'm ready to go and try to win it again."

Notre Dame annual training camp? Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman left open the possibility of Notre Dame being an annual location for the team's training camp. Bowman chose Notre Dame this season because the United Center was occupied for the week.

"We're not going to rule anything out," said Bowman, who graduated from Notre Dame. "We talked about seeing how this goes. There's a lot of excitement, I can tell you that from our players' perspective."

Saad at center: Coach Joel Quenneville reiterated Wednesday that he planned to give second-year forward Brandon Saad a shot at second-line center. Saad played wing all of last season.

The Blackhawks are entering their third consecutive season in search of a permanent solution to their second-line center void. Dave Bolland started there last season, but he was unable to hold on to the position because of injuries and inconsistencies. Michal Handzus assumed the role throughout the playoffs.

"We're going to try him this week," Quenneville said of Saad. "It'll be nice to see him. We'll start [Thursday] and put him in the middle. I think one thing about [Saad], he's good with the puck; he's a big man, he's a big body, he can see and make plays as well; he protects the puck well.

"Defensively is an area where we have a little bit more responsibility for what our centerman does down low in our end. I think that's where the growth would have to come and the learning experience for him, in that area. Both sides of the puck, he's got a pretty good head and mind for the game. I think that's where we're going to find out how he adapts to it."

Full health: Quenneville and Bowman said they expected everyone to participate in the team's first practice Thursday. Specifically, Bowman said Handzus and Marian Hossa were "ready to go" after dealing with various injuries in the Stanley Cup finals last season. Handzus had two surgeries in the offseason, and Hossa was able to avoid surgery on his back.

"There’s a couple players we're going to be seeing after [Thursday's] skate whether they'll be able to take full contact in the scrimmages," Quenneville said. "Everybody will be at least practicing to start with. I don't think there will be a hold on too many areas, and if there are, it's just going to be short-term, work their way through it and test it a little more."

Replacing Frolik: Quenneville said a number of players will get to audition in training camp to replace Michael Frolik on the penalty kill. Frolik, who now plays for the Winnipeg Jets, keyed one of the league's best penalty-kill units last season.

"I think internally we've talked about whether it's going to be an addition to our team where the guys have internally killed penalties for us in the past or could absorb some of that ice time," Quenneville said. "We talked about who's going to make our team coming from Rockford whether it's going to be Ben Smith, we talk about [Brandon] Pirri, we talk about Jimmy Hayes, we talk about [Jeremy] Morin. These guys are going to be competing.

"[Frolik] had that nice niche with them. That's something we're going to evaluate as we go through training camp. We don't [want to] extend a lot of our top-minute guys with extra minutes if we can get that with one of those guys who doesn't play as much. That seemed to be the perfect fit, and if we can find that niche for another player. ... Let's see how it plays out."