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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Hawks' youngsters impress in Winnipeg

By Jesse Rogers

WINNIPEG, Manitoba --Jonathan Toews scored a goal in front of his friends and family, and although the Hawks lost Wednesday's contest to the Lightning 4-2, they got a good look at some of their future. And they liked what they saw.

“The two kids kind of jumped out at us,” Joel Quenneville said of Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin. “It was nice to see them play so well in their first chance to play in the NHL.”

Nick Leddy
Nick Leddy showed flashes of his ability on defense Wednesday.
Leddy, a defenseman, and Morin, a winger, both came to the Hawks in major trades. Leddy, last season for Cam Barker, while Morin was the key piece in the trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, and Brent Sopel to Atlanta this past offseason.

Morin and another highly touted prospect, Igor Makarov, assisted on Toews goal on what Quenneville called a “great play.”

“He’s got a lot of skill,” Toews said of Morin. “He’s showing it. He’s one of those guys that -- kind of like [Patrick Kane] -- you notice him right away. I think that’s what makes him special.”

That’s high praise but he’s not wrong. Once Morin gets the puck, something is going to happen. He stood his ground, as well, after taking a swipe at a puck near the Lightning goaltender which caused a scrum behind the net.

“You have to just come and play your game and just go out there and do your thing,” Morin said.

Quenenville liked how Marty Turco played but knows there will be an adjustment period.

“I think our defensemen will have to get accustomed to him handling the puck so well,” Quenneville explained. “We have to figure out good places for them to go on the ice to enhance his puck possession or movement but I thought he was solid and can alleviate some of the forechecking pressure.”

But in the end this one was about youth.

“Nick Leddy had a really good game on the back end,” Quenneville said. "Morin has a bright future.”

Slap Shots

• Jonathan Toews put the first preseason game in perspective.

“You’re not going to go crazy about some of the mistakes we made,” he said. “It was the first game for everyone, for some guys it was their first pro game. Everyone is a little rusty.”

Brian Connelly, a defenseman signed by the Hawks in 2009 was paired with Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith. It was Connelly’s second NHL game.

“It was pretty nice being with a defenseman like [Keith],” Connelly said. “I kind of model my game after him. He’s a good guy to have out there. Always talking to me. I can only get better working with a guy like that.”

• Quenneville, and most players, liked the atmosphere in Winnipeg and it made for a lively game, including two fights.

“For a preseason game it was a very intense game,” Quenneville said.