Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Hawks aim to take advantage of break
By Scott Powers
Waterfalls, surfing, lounging by the pool, scenic views -- by the looks of the Twitter accounts of the Chicago Blackhawks who aren't playing in the Olympics they're already enjoying their break.
While 10 Blackhawks are off in Sochi, Russia playing for their respective countries in the Olympics, 13 other Blackhawks have the time off and don't have to get back on the ice until Feb. 23.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful those 13 players would rest and return refreshed for the regular season's final 22 games.
"I don't think we've ever visited this extended time away," Quenneville said during the team's recent road trip. "I guess we're going to have to rely on the trust that these guys are going to be ready and rested. The rusty part, hopefully if they are, we'll have enough time to get it off them. I would expect these guys fresh, lead the charge when they come out of the Olympic break."
The Blackhawks appear to be listening to their coach. Andrew Shaw has tweeted out photos of him at a pool, hiking by a waterfall and surfing in Hawaii. Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig have also tweeted scenic photos from much warmer locations than frigid Chicago.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was also hopeful his teammates not in the Olympics would utilize their two weeks off.
"For us, we have the maturity to use this to our advantage," Toews said recently. "Guys are going to take advantage and maybe do some things and take some time off. I think that's good mentality and physically, so you come back in even better shape and are prepared to play your best hockey down the stretch."
Quenneville has said throughout the season he will be mindful of Olympic players' ice time when they return to Chicago. That could especially be the case for 36-year-old Michal Handzus and 35-year-olds Marian Hossa and Michal Rozsival, who are all playing in the Olympics. Some players could play as many as seven games between Wednesday and Feb. 23 in Russia.
Olympic teams began practicing in Russia on Monday, and games will begin on Wednesday. Sweden's Marcus Kruger, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson and the Czech Republic's Rozsival will be in action for the Blackhawks on Wednesday. Slovakia's Handzus and Hossa will face the United States' Patrick Kane, Canada's Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane will play on Thursday.
Quenneville wished all of his players a positive Olympic experience.
"I hope they play well," Quenneville said. "I hope they represent their country extremely well and make themselves and their countrymen proud of them. I hope somebody wins gold medals."