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|It looks as though Corey Crawford will be the Hawks' starting goalie next season.|
CHICAGO -- Is it talking out of both sides of your mouth if you praise someone while at the same time looking to replace him?
That’s the scenario facing the Chicago Blackhawks and incumbent goalie Corey Crawford -- though the issue may not be as black and white as it appears.
The Hawks openly admitted to their pursuit of Martin Brodeur before he re-signed with the New Jersey Devils. Still, there is no indication they are beating the bushes to replace Crawford with just anyone.
“We’re expecting Corey to bounce back and capture that consistency in his game and be a top goalie,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Day 3 of prospects camp on Wednesday. “We believe he can do that. When you have a guy like Marty Brodeur out there, you have to at least visit that situation as well.”
That’s been the company line since it became public the Hawks were pursuing the NHL’s all-time wins leader. But maybe that’s about the only guy they feel would be a fit. There is no indication they are looking elsewhere, at least not publicly. There’s a good chance Brodeur would have split games with Crawford in Chicago – not replaced him.
So while the Hawks want the upgrade, they aren’t ready to push Crawford aside.
“I’m very comfortable and confident with Corey,” Quenneville said. “You look at the history of goaltenders around the league…there is a little bit of a bounce factor in that second year. A number of top goalies have had that career path. We anticipate Corey getting right back on track.”
Quenneville isn’t wrong about the sophomore slump. It’s been well documented. On the other hand, what else would the head coach say about his still starting goaltender? Crawford said during the season he doesn’t read the papers very often, but he must have heard of the Hawks’ pursuit of Brodeur. Are egos going to need to be mended?
“I talked to (goalie coach Stephan Waite) there about it as well,” Quenneville said. “We’ll get a chance to talk to Corey as well..Corey is well aware, your performance is going to dictate how much you play.”
The bottom line: If the Hawks could be assured of getting a better netminder than Crawford at a decent cost, they would have done it or would still be trying to. But Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings or Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks doesn’t fit those descriptions for several reasons. Brodeur and Tim Thomas of Boston, for example, do. Brodeur is back in New Jersey and Thomas is sitting out at least a year. With that, it’s back to Crawford.
The Hawks are getting closer to hiring an assistant coach, a position that has been vacant since the firing of Mike Haviland soon after last season ended.
“We’re progressing,” Quenneville said. “We’re real close. Hopefully we’ll find out in the next little while here.”
Quenneville said there was no timetable or deadline for the hiring but reiterated they were getting “close.”
Doan on Hawks’ radar?
Quenneville was asked to comment on the free-agent star from Phoenix after his agent, Terry Bross, said publicly his client and the Hawks had interest in each other.
“You see what’s out there and where he is at,” Quenneville said. “I’m sure a number of teams would be interested. Tough to comment on that right now. He has a lot of respect around the league.”
Consider it a long shot for Doan to join the Hawks. There are plenty of teams that can offer far more money and need him more desperately.
Teuvo Teravainen, the Hawks’ first-round pick in last month’s draft, wowed the crowd at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Wednesday in the first of three scrimmages prospects will participate in before the end of the week.
On his second shift, he exploded up the middle of the ice with some nifty stick-handling before dropping a pass off to Maxim Shalunov who scored. But it was Teravainen who created the time and space.
"I think he's going to be one of those tricky type players,” Quenneville said during an intermission in the game. “Real handy with the puck.”
A few minutes later, Teravainen buried a rebound for a goal. The game wasn’t seven minutes old and the Finnish star had a goal and an assist. He’s expected to play in Finland next season.
• Quenneville said concussed forward Marian Hossa is progressing and expects to see him at the Blackhawks convention late next week.
• Though he’s attending prospects camp, forward Brandon Saad might just be a mainstay for the Hawks come fall. He dominated in juniors last season while earning some playing time in the NHL. Quenneville was asked if he pictured him making the Hawks roster.
“Maybe he cannot just make our team but maybe he can do more than that,” Quenneville responded.
• Congratulations to announcer and former first round pick of the Hawks, Eddie Olczyk, on his pending induction to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.