Quenneville patient with Olympians

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
6:36
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking at the big picture when it comes to his 10 Olympians returning to the team this week.

Quenneville doesn't plan on pushing his returning players until he really needs them back on the ice. He said he wouldn't ask the six players who played in the gold-medal game Sunday to be back with the team until its morning skate against the New York Rangers on Thursday. The team's 12 other players had their first practice since the Olympic break at Johnny's IceHouse on Sunday afternoon.

Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp and defenseman Duncan Keith helped Canada to the men's hockey gold with a 3-0 win over Sweden and Blackhawks defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya and forward Marcus Kruger on Sunday.

The Blackhawks also had forwards Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michal Handzus (Slovakia) and Patrick Kane (U.S.), and defenseman Michal Rozsival (Czech Republic) participate in the Olympics.

"The guys that will be getting back tomorrow, I don't expect those guys to be getting on the ice until the morning skate," Quenneville said. "We'll give the guys a couple of days to break -- very taxing and exciting as well. I think the guys that got back here the last couple of days maybe over the next day or so they'll return to practice. But six of them I don't expect those guys to ... if they want to get on the ice on Wednesday, that'll probably be it."

Quenneville wasn't positive even a few days rest would be enough for his returning Olympians.

"We'll see how they are when they get back and gauge it," Quenneville said. "I would expect that they'll need a couple of days to enjoy it and celebrate and when we get them back together, I'm sure the focus will go on the right place. But a break for them off the ice will probably be healthy as well.

"Some teams are playing Tuesday and we've got Thursday. I think the whole league will be playing by Thursday anyways. It's what it is and I think that the players, they know how to read it and as we get closer to the game in New York, we've got a big weekend as well right after that. It's an interesting week for us. We'll see how they feel and gauge it from there."

Quenneville on Olympics: Quenneville wasn't sure whether the NHL should commit its players to future Olympics. He did see some good in it.

"It's something they've got to look at," Quenneville said. "But from our vantage point we had 10 guys go play and represent their country and made our organization proud, the way they competed and it was a process as it's played out ... a lot of the top countries were there at the end. A bounce here or there, there were four or five teams that could have been in a better spot. That's something they can look at. I think the whole process, I think people enjoy it and that's what you’ve got to look at."

Kostka to Lightning: Defenseman Mike Kostka was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Blackhawks on Sunday.

Kostka was signed by the Blackhawks to a one-year deal in July. He was out nearly two months because of a lower-body injury early in the season and had been rotating with Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival for the team's sixth defenseman spot. He had two goals, one assist and a plus-three rating in nine games for the Blackhawks.

"I think when we're looking at, I think whether we're looking at the business decisions and hockey decisions, sometimes they go hand in hand," Quenneville said of the move. "It definitely gives Mike a chance to play. We liked what he brought. I think getting picked up by his former coach (Jon Cooper), I'm sure they're excited about him returning to that organization and for his coach as well. Just wish him the best."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26