Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago Blackhawks

Cumiskey readjusting to the NHL

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
11:30
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Kyle Cumiskey wasn’t happy with his play or his situation the latest time he played in North America, in 2012.

Cumiskey was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Anaheim Ducks in October 2011, and he spent that entire season in the AHL. He was also displeased with his game then. Cumiskey thought a change would do him good, and he decided to go to Europe.

After two seasons in Sweden, Cumiskey, a 27-year-old defenseman, is now back and giving the NHL another shot. He signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason and suited up Tuesday for his first NHL game since 2011. It was only a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, but it was a significant step in Cumiskey’s return.

“It’s always nerve-wracking when you know you’re getting evaluated,” said Cumiskey, who played 18:00 in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime win. “Every shift means something. Of course [I was nervous], but I felt like I didn’t overdo it and handled it pretty well tonight.

“It took a little getting used to," he added. "It was pretty quick off the start. I felt not bad actually, though. I felt like I got up to speed throughout the game. Just try to improve every game from here on out.”

Adjusting has been the key word for Cumiskey since training camp opened this past week. Having played on a larger ice sheet in Europe the past two seasons, he has had to adapt again, this time to once again playing on a smaller ice surface.

“It’s a totally different game there,” said Cumiskey, who played 132 NHL games for the Avalanche. “Just with the smaller ice, it’s a lot quicker. You don’t have as much time. You have to move the puck a lot quicker. Guys are on you quicker. It’s all about being quick and keeping your head up.

“It’s been tough. Every ice time, I start feeling a little bit better throughout camp [and] getting used to it more.”

Cumiskey’s strengths are his speed, quickness and puck-handling. He displayed those talents in Tuesday’s game, when he carried the puck into the Blackhawks’ offensive zone, often got involved in the offense and was able to quickly get back to the defensive zone. He had one shot on goal, one giveaway, two blocked shots and a zero rating for the game.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has noticed Cumiskey getting more comfortable in the past week. Quenneville also has some familiarity with Cumiskey, as he coached him for nine games with the Avalanche in the 2006-07 season.

“I thought he’s gotten better every day since he’s been here,” Quenneville said. “Seems like he’s more noticeable each and every day. He gets more confident with getting up in the plays. I think he has a nice feeling of joining.

“Defensively, I think we can work with him in some areas," the coach continued. "But I think offensively, his quickness and speed are real nice attributes for today’s game. He gives a different look in the back end as well. I thought he had a good game. I thought his camp has progressed the right way.”

Hawks listen to fans, make changes

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
7:34
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have proven they’re listening to their fans.

The Blackhawks made some changes within their game operations leading into the 2014-15 season after fans expressed displeasure with the way women were being portrayed by the organization.

The Blackhawks previously announced they will no longer play the song “The Stripper” during their Shoot the Puck contest. The team announced this week the Shoot the Puck format will include a youth guest, a representative from a Blackhawks charity partner and an adult or celebrity after fans voiced their concern that the women being chosen did not represent all women. The women’s Ice Crew also will wear jackets as part of their uniforms.

“As we do with all aspects of our organization, we have continually reviewed the elements of our game operations, including Shoot the Puck, and we have refined it for this season,” a Blackhawks spokesperson said. “Based off feedback from our own research and from listening to our fans, we have added more exposure for the charity component of Shoot the Puck. This allows us to proudly showcase our community partnerships as well as help maximize exposure for these great organizations.”

The push for change was led by Blackhawks fan Marissa Miller, who began a petition and a hashtag movement on Twitter in August. Miller said she received 1,014 signatures to her petition, which included a survey. Miller plans to provide the Blackhawks with a packet of the information this week.

“I’ve been really impressed by what they’ve managed to do in a month,” Miller said Tuesday. “I think the organization conducted their own research and retooled accordingly. That’s all I really wanted. Nobody had spoken up at lengths about the issues. There had been comments here and there. The petition was me trying to gather all those comments in one place. I think they were gathering information internally, and it sped up things they were already working on.”

Miller did encounter some criticism for her petition. She said she even received three death threats via email. Despite that, she continued her campaign.

“I can't regret something that clearly played a role in getting the Blackhawks to prioritize making some changes,” she said. “I mentioned that it seems like these are things they'd already conducted their own research on and were reaching their own similar conclusions, but the timing’s not coincidental. It speaks well to them meaning it when they say they actively solicit and examine feedback from their fan base, and it's refreshing and welcome to see in today's sports climate.”

Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough said this past month that his club was paying attention to what the fans were saying.

“We have to listen," McDonough told the Chicago Sun-Times in August. "We have to be aware. We have to react when appropriate -- not overreact, but react. We take all of this very seriously. We have had to take a look at every single element, every aspect of our operation, our hockey business, from A to Z. I certainly have read the stories, and I understand the sensitive nature of all of that.

“I think as our franchise's fan base has exploded, we're hearing and we're witnessing, and we have to evolve with all of that, and we have to change, and we have to address it," he continued. "We hear the feedback. We respect it. We're distilling it right now. We want to be respectful to everybody.”

Hawks could accelerate college prospects

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
12:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks are bursting at the seams as an organization with NHL-caliber players.

For the most part, that's a good situation to be in. But one of the potential issues has come to light this year. As seen in the case of Kevin Hayes, the Blackhawks' 2010 first-round draft pick, their prospects have the option of waiting out the period the organization owns their rights and when they can decide to become free agents.

[+] EnlargeKevin Hayes
Richard T Gagnon/Getty ImagesHobey Baker Award finalist Kevin Hayes is unlikely to sign with the Hawks by the Aug. 15 deadline.
The Blackhawks put a lot of time into working to develop Hayes over the past four-plus years, and it will be a disappointment for them if he doesn't sign, which is unlikely to happen before the Aug. 15 deadline. It will especially be frustrating for them if Hayes proves to be a capable NHL player.

One reason Hayes hasn't signed with the Blackhawks is because he doesn't see a place for himself in the NHL in the immediate future. Twenty-two years old and coming off a stellar senior season at Boston College, Hayes believes he can be in the NHL sooner rather than later. But with the talent the Blackhawks already have in the NHL and with more NHL-ready players waiting their turn in the AHL, Hayes would have to likely wait at least a season or two before he could be an everyday NHL player.

This may not be an issue going forward for the Blackhawks. It is uncommon for an organization's prospect to decline an entry-level contract and wait to become a free agent. Stephen Johns had the same option out of Notre Dame this year and signed with the Blackhawks.

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Podcast: Jonathan Toews

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
3:26
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews joins "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss his new eight-year contract extension.

Play Download

Click here for more audio from ESPN Chicago.

Prospect van Riemsdyk grateful to be on ice

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
7:28
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Trevor van Riemsdyk had reasons to worry his hockey future was in doubt after what he saw and felt in January.

Van Riemsdyk, then a junior defenseman at the University of New Hampshire, was checked into the boards by an opponent and his left ankle bent in the wrong direction as he fell to the ice.

The pain told him immediately something was wrong, but what he saw in the shape of his ankle shortly later made him fearful he would never get a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NHL.

[+] EnlargeTrevor Van Riemsdyk
AP Photo/Josh GibneyAt this week's Blackhawks prospect camp, Trevor van Riemsdyk, right, will test the ankle he injured in January as he looks to prove his worth to team personnel. 
“When it first happened, you don’t know exactly what is wrong,” van Riemsdyk said. “You hope for the best, but it’s kind of in the back of your head that maybe things might end before they even start. It ended up being the best of the situation, just kind of a clean break and nothing too lingering.

“Yeah, definitely crosses your mind when you’re lying on the trainer’s table and your ankle is the size of a softball. It ended up working for the best.”

Van Riemsdyk was able to share his story Monday easier than he would have earlier in the year, because his left ankle has recovered and he’s begun his path to the NHL.

He signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks after his college season ended in March, and is participating in the Blackhawks prospect camp in Chicago this week.

Van Riemsdyk, who is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, had other options when he hit the free-agency market in March.

He wouldn’t disclose the other teams that were interested in him, but they likely presented a quicker road to the NHL than the Blackhawks, who are deep at defenseman throughout the organization. Yet, he was sold on what the Blackhawks offered him.

“I kind of looked at it [as] you might not see it as [that] quick of a track, but it’s a great organization,” van Riemsdyk said. “The style they play as far as puck possession is something I like and fits my game real well. That kind of went into it majorly and how I came to my decision.

“I’m sure you would like to be [in the NHL] right away, but you want to make sure you’re ready when you get there. If you’re there before you’re ready, you don’t want to mess it up or leave a bad taste in people’s mouths saying maybe he won’t ever be ready or stuff like that. You want to be ready before you get there, and I think this organization does a good job of getting you where you need to be.”

Van Riemsdyk turned to his older brother for advice, but he felt he was given room to make his own decision. That’s one of the reasons why van Riemsdyk respects his older brother and never saw it as a burden to be the younger brother of an NHL player.

“You get that a lot just growing up, whether it’s on the ice or people asking you off it about whether you’re in the shadow or whatever,” said van Riemsdyk, who will turn 23 on July 24. “However you want to look at it, he’s a good guy to be in his shadow or not.

“He’s always done things the right way. He’s never got into any trouble. He’s worked hard. He’s had a good career. If I’m going to be in somebody’s shadow, I guess his isn’t a bad one.”

At the same time, van Riemsdyk would like to create his own career.

“I’ve always worked to make my own path at UNH and have my own accomplishments and not just being James’ brother,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s led a good way, and I’ve kind of followed it and added my achievements along the way.”

Van Riemsdyk, who is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, is known for his offensive ability as a defenseman. He had 75 points, including 16 goals and 59 assists, in 102 games at New Hampshire. He was a first-team All-American after his sophomore year.

ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman described van Riemsdyk as a “good puck mover who excels on the power play, but his skating and defense are just ok.”

Van Riemsdyk hoped to impress the Blackhawks’ personnel and gain some knowledge throughout the weeklong prospect camp. He described it as an opportunity to be a “sponge.”

The week also presents him a chance to really test his ankle against other top players.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in an ultracompetitive situation like this, pretty much since January when I hurt it,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a good kind of shock to the system to get back in there.”

Teravainen ready to work in one place

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
2:43
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Teuvo Teravainen is finally in the United States for good.

Teravainen, the Chicago Blackhawks’ top prospect, arrived in Chicago from Finland this weekend for the organization’s prospect camp, which opened on Sunday, and plans to stay throughout the summer and into next season.

Teravainen was a frequent flyer last season. He began at training camp with the Blackhawks in September, left later in the month for Finland to play for Jokerit in the Liiga, played in the World Junior Championship in Sweden in January, rejoined the Blackhawks after his Liiga season in March, finished the regular season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs and returned to Finland in April to try out for the World Championship.

Teravainen wasn’t sure whether he’d start next season in the NHL or the AHL, but he was certain he’d remain in the United States.

“Going to stay here for practice, not going to go back and forth,” Teravainen said at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Sunday. “Yeah, just practice here and be ready for the season. A lot of travel when I go back and forth. Better to stay here and practice in one place and with [Paul Goodman,] the strength coach. I think it’s good.”

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10 to watch at Blackhawks prospect camp

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
10:05
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks open their annual prospect camp at Johnny's IceHouse West on Sunday. Here are 10 prospects to keep an eye on throughout the week:

Alex Broadhurst, forward, 2011 seventh-round pick: Broadhurst was a bit of surprise this past season. He had a better offensive season than any of the organization's other first-year professionals. He finished third on the AHL's Rockford IceHogs with 45 points, which included 16 goals and 29 assists. Only Adam Clendening and Jeremy Morin had more points. The Blackhawks certainly found value with this seventh-round selection.

Adam Clendening, defenseman, 2011 second-round pick: Clendening is on the verge of the NHL. He's the most offensive defenseman the Blackhawks have amongst their prospects. He led the IceHogs in points last season, and he also took a step forward with his defense. He is still 21 years old.

[+] EnlargeStephen Johns
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesAfter four years at Notre Dame, Stephen Johns signed with the Hawks in April.
Ryan Hartman, forward, 2013 first-round pick: Hartman enters his second year in the organization. He had a solid first season and ended it with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks like how hard and tough he plays. He's been compared to Andrew Shaw.

Vincent Hinostroza, forward, 2012 sixth-round pick: Hinostroza had one of the strongest freshman seasons among the Blackhawks prospects. He was third on Notre Dame with 32 points. He had eight goals and 24 assists. He's a playmaker.

Stephen Johns, defenseman, 2010 second-round pick: Johns finally signed with the Blackhawks in April after spending four years at Notre Dame. He should be the worth wait. He's a physical player and has a 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. He could be NHL ready this season.

Mark McNeill, forward, 2011 first-round pick: McNeill is among a few forward prospects who could make the jump to the NHL next season. He's transitioned well into playing a wing and impressed people within the organization with his commitment to winning late last season with the IceHogs. He'll look to continue to catch the right eyes with his play during the camp.

Dennis Rasmussen, forward, free-agent signing: The Blackhawks signed the 24-year-old Rasmussen to a one-year deal in June. He played last season in Sweden and tallied 40 points, including 16 goals and 24 assists, in 52 games. He's expected to give the Blackhawks additional organizational depth at center.

Nick Schmaltz, forward, 2014 first-round pick: Schmaltz is the Blackhawks' latest first-round pick. They moved up in the draft to get him. His hands and offensive game have been touted, but his work ethic has been questioned. This will be his first chance to impress people. He's headed to North Dakota to be a freshman this year.

Teuvo Teravainen, forward, 2012 first-round pick: Teravainen is the organization's top prospect and likely the second-line center of the future. His full-time NHL arrival probably got delayed by the signing of Brad Richards, but Teravainen will see time with the Blackhawks this season. He's offensively gifted and should put on a show for fans throughout the camp.

Trevor van Riemsdyk, defenseman, free-agent signing: Van Riemsdyk was expected to be one of the top college free agents after the season, but teams backed off after he suffered a serious ankle injury. If he can return to form, the Blackhawks may have gotten a steal in signing him. He's the younger brother of James van Riemsdyk, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Other notables: Matt Carey (forward), Chris Calnan (forward), Phillip Danault (forward), Carl Dahlstrom (defenseman), Dillon Fournier (defenseman), John Hayden (forward), Garret Ross (forward), Kent Simpson (goaltender).

Challenge begins after Kane, Toews deals

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:54
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman achieved Wednesday what he had been planning out for years and secured Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to lengthy contract extensions.

Unfortunately for Bowman, his job doesn't get any easier from here on out.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty ImagesPatrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have led the Blackhawks' resurgence with two Stanley Cups in five years.
Signing Kane and Toews for eight more years assured the Blackhawks of two superstars through the 2022-23 season. Add in what the Blackhawks have already done in signing Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen through 2017, Niklas Hjalmarsson through 2019, Corey Crawford through 2020, Marian Hossa through 2021 and Duncan Keith through 2023, and the Blackhawks have nine strong pieces in place for their quest to win multiple Stanley Cups.

But as the Blackhawks have learned over the past five years, their elite players must be surrounded by quality depth and the right role players for them to hoist the Stanley Cup. They had that in 2010 and 2013 and succeeded. They didn't have that in 2011, 2012 and 2014, and they failed.

Bowman must now figure out how to keep the Blackhawks a perennial Stanley Cup contender while balancing a tight checkbook.

Kane and Toews could have gotten more money on the open market and could have squeezed more out of the Blackhawks, but their cap hits are still significant at a total of $21 million a season. The Blackhawks are already at $65,757,628 in salary cap payroll with 15 players signed for the 2015-16 season and around $52,707,628 with nine players signed for the 2016-17 season, according to capgeek.com. Even with the cap expected to increase in the coming years from where it's at now at $69 million, the Blackhawks won't have much financial wiggle room in the future.

Bowman's first task after completing the contracts for Kane and Toews is getting the Blackhawks cap-compliant for the upcoming season. The Blackhawks are around $1.3 million over cap, which would be more if Teravainen was included on the roster. Bowman has to trade at least one player to get under the cap.

Bowman's next goal will be re-signing Brandon Saad to an extension. Saad is set to become a restricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. Based on him being 21 and how he's developed so far, he could demand anywhere from $4 million to $6 million. The Blackhawks would like to knock that deal out before July 1, 2015, just in case another team would attempt to steal him away with a high-priced offer sheet.

Let's say Saad agrees to somewhere around $4.5 million to $5 million a season for two to four years. The Blackhawks would strengthen their core again, but that would leave even less money for the remainder of the roster. At some point, the Blackhawks will have to let some of their prized possessions go. Between Brent Seabrook, Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy and Andrew Shaw, all players who worked their way up through the organization, the Blackhawks will eventually have to part with some of them because of cap restraints over the next two seasons. Down the line, they'll likely face the same difficult decisions with Sharp and Bickell. Not everyone will be able to retire as Blackhawks.

[+] Enlarge Brandon Saad
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)Brandon Saad is set to become a restricted free agent after next season.
The Blackhawks do appear to be in a strong place with their prospect system. Teravainen is considered to be the real deal. Defensemen Adam Clendening, Stephen Johns and Klas Dahlbeck are all close to being NHL-ready. Forward Joakim Nordstrom surprised many and showed he could play in the NHL last season. Forwards Mark McNeill and Alex Broadhurst could also be around the corner based on their first pro seasons.

The Blackhawks are also hopeful Phillip Danault, Garret Ross and Ryan Hartman can get closer to the NHL in the next few seasons. Unlike the past few seasons where they have been able to let NHL-ready prospects such as Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen and Ryan Stanton depart for other teams, the Blackhawks will need similar players to remain in the organization and contribute at the NHL level.

The Blackhawks have benefited from drafting well in recent years. Bowman drafted top-6 forwards in Teravainen with the No. 18 overall pick in 2012 and in Saad with the No. 43 overall pick in 2011. They got draft steals in centers Shaw and Kruger with fifth-round picks. If they could somehow sign Kevin Hayes before the Aug. 15 deadline, that would be another late first-round pick who could be in the NHL in the next few years. Bowman will later need draft picks such as Tyler Motte, Vincent Hinostroza, Carl Dahlstrom, Nick Schmaltz and Robin Norell to continue to progress and be ready in the next three to six years to step in and be supporting players to Kane and Toews.

Bowman can be credited for putting the Blackhawks in a favorable position going forward with who he has signed and drafted, but he hasn't been without his missteps in recent seasons. Re-signing Michal Handzus after the Stanley Cup run, re-signing Michal Rozsival to a two-year deal, trading for Kris Versteeg this past season and signing Brandon Bollig to a contract extension are likely decisions Bowman would like to have back. Bickell's play next season will also determine whether Bowman made the right call on a four-year, $16 million extension on him after the 2013 season.

The Blackhawks won't be able to afford many mistakes in the future. They just won't have the cap space to fix them. They'll likely be up against the cap every year and won't have the luxury of attempting to add someone such as Ryan Kesler to a long-term deal this summer or obtaining a key player at the trade deadline. What they have in the NHL and AHL will be Bowman's main resources.

Bowman knows his legacy will ultimately be determined by how many more Stanley Cup banners are raised at the United Center. With the ink now dry on the extensions for Kane and Toews, Bowman's work begins now.

Kane, Toews have Hawks positioned well

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
12:45
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have shared their NHL journey ever since they first took the ice together for the Chicago Blackhawks and combined their talents to produce a goal on Oct. 10, 2007.

It marked the beginning of their success together. The ending is still nowhere in sight.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe careers of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be tied together for eight more years.
Kane and Toews continued to align their NHL careers Wednesday by both agreeing to eight-year contract extensions which a source says are for $10.5 million per year, keeping them Blackhawks through the 2022-23 season.

Their arrival in 2007 represented hope for an Original Six organization which had fallen on hard times for nearly a decade. They haven't disappointed since.

Over the past seven seasons, Kane and Toews have played in nearly 500 regular-season games together. After four consecutive sub-.500 seasons prior to their rookie season, the Blackhawks have since gone 309-163-68 with them. The two players have combined for 933 regular-season points, including 375 goals.

As good as they've been in the regular season, they've been even more clutch when it's mattered most in the playoffs. They returned the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2009 after five seasons of failing to do so and immediately helped them to the Western Conference finals. A year later, they both raised their first Stanley Cup and ended the franchise's 49-year championship drought. They've since led the Blackhawks to a second Stanley Cup and made them a perennial contender.

From Day 1, they have accomplished it all together and never looked to outshine or outdo the other. While they already have money and fame, they could have even more. All it would have taken is one slightly larger ego, and they may have never agreed to identical five-year, $31.5 million contract extensions the first time around and certainly not their newest contracts.

Kane and Toews are being paid like superstars, but they could have certainly asked for more and would have had their share of more significant offers to choose from if they had waited to go onto the free market after next season. They left money on the table, allowing the Blackhawks some cap flexibility. The Blackhawks may have to eventually let some core pieces go and turn to their prospects who are NHL ready, but they should be Stanley Cup contenders for the foreseeable future.

The Blackhawks' main objective with that additional money will be re-signing Brandon Saad to a new contract. Saad will be a restricted free agent after next season, and there has to be some fear another team will come along with an offer sheet if he's allowed to get that far. Considering he's 21, has shown improvement in each of his first two seasons and the cap is expected to rise, Saad could fetch somewhere between $4-7 million a season.

Kane and Toews permitted their careers to be harmonious, realizing their opportunity in Chicago is rare and can ultimately elevate them to a special place in NHL history.

Kane, at 25 years old, and Toews, at 26, didn't attach themselves together through their athletic primes and into their 30s to make a run at just one or two more Stanley Cups in Chicago. They're out to deliver to the Blackhawks what Michael Jordan once bestowed upon the Chicago Bulls.

Like Jordan, to honor Kane's and Toews' shared success and shared commitment to the Blackhawks, the organization will undoubtedly unveil matching statues of them outside the United Center whenever they decide to retire. It'll be a fitting end to their NHL journey, as they'll have a permanent place on Madison together side by side.

Dahlbeck takes 'big step' for Blackhawks

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
10:28
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The hardest position to crack in the Chicago Blackhawks roster in recent seasons also happens to be where the organization has some of its greatest prospect depth.

The Blackhawks were so deep at defenseman last season they allowed prospect Ryan Stanton to be snatched by the Vancouver Canucks off waivers and traded prospect Dylan Olsen to the Florida Panthers. Both became permanent fixtures in the NHL for their new teams.

And there are even more defensemen within the organization who are on the verge of being NHL ready. Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns are the two names mentioned the most, but Klas Dahlbeck, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound Swedish defenseman, has also put himself in that discussion.

Dahlbeck, who turned 23 on Sunday, was at the top of the list among the Blackhawks prospects who progressed this past season. Blackhawks personnel certainly took notice of his development during his second season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.

"He took a big step," Blackhawks director of hockey administration/general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard said recently. "His rookie year (2012-13) over here, there's so much to learn at the American League level. They have to learn to do some things on their own for the first time. He was coming over from a different country, a different rink size.

"I really liked his game. He was consistent night in and night out. He had the same game every night. But he didn't have a lot of points. He had a really good summer, really worked on his shot. There was a big difference in Year 1 to Year 2."

That was Dahlbeck's intention. He told IceHogs coach Ted Dent after the 2012-13 season he wanted to contribute more offensively and then spent the time on the ice in the offseason to make sure he was capable of that this past season.

"Last summer he really worked on his offensive game, worked on his shot," Dent said in a recent interview. "He got involved in the rush. I think he's developed really well. He's a great team player. There's no maintenance. For that reason, I put an A on him."

While Dahlbeck increased his point total from six in 70 games in his first season to 35 in 75 games this past season, his upside for the Blackhawks is still his defensive ability. He's most likely to eventually fill a hole for the Blackhawks in a defensive-minded role.

"I think you would classify him as a stay-at-home defenseman -- defense first, penalty kill, keep the puck out of your net, be that anchor all teams have," Dent said. "Anything offensively he can add is more of a bonus."

Dahlbeck isn't a finished product yet. Dent said he's still learning how to block shots. The organization has tried to get Dahlbeck to watch Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson as much as possible and hopefully pick up some of his game.

"We use Niklas Hjalmarsson to compare to him a lot," Bernard said. "'Look at how Nik uses his stick, how he blocks shots.'"

Dahlbeck, a 2011 third-round draft pick, got a taste of the NHL late in the season. He never got into a game, but he practiced with the Blackhawks throughout the playoffs.

Bernard once wasn't sure what to expect from Dahlbeck, but now he knows better.

"When he came over, he surprised me a little bit," Bernard said. "Going forward, he's not going to surprise me. He's a very skilled defenseman. He doesn't want to waste one day of his development time. He works extremely hard. He's very coachable. He's now reaping a few rewards."

Hayes won't attend Hawks prospect camp

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
1:34
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Most of the Chicago Blackhawks' young talent is expected to attend the organization's prospect camp when it opens on Sunday, but there will be one significant player missing.

Forward Kevin Hayes will not attend the camp as he and the Blackhawks continue to negotiate an entry-level contract, according to Hayes' agent on Tuesday. Hayes had been to the Blackhawks' last four prospect camps since being selected by the Blackhawks as the No. 24 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Time is running out for Hayes and the Blackhawks to work out a deal. The Blackhawks have until Aug. 15 to sign him or he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If they are unable to agree on a contract before the deadline, the Blackhawks will be given a compensatory second-round draft pick in 2015.

Hayes' agent Robert Murray said Tuesday the negotiations are ongoing between Hayes and the Blackhawks, and there is a possibility the two sides can still come to an agreement.

"Of course he could still sign with Chicago," Murray wrote in a text on Tuesday.

Murray previously said there were a number of criteria, including depth of the organization, they were using to determine whether Hayes would sign. Hayes would likely begin his professional career in the AHL if he signed with the Blackhawks.

Hayes, 22, is considered by ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman as one of the Blackhawks' top six prospects. Hayes had 27 goals, 38 assists and a plus-34 rating in 40 games as a senior at Boston College this past season and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Agent: Kane, Toews contract talks ongoing

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
11:53
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks and forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are continuing to negotiate contract extensions, according to the players' agent Pat Brisson on Tuesday.

Kane
Toews
"The talks are and have been going for a little while, and, yes, the Hawks are making it a priority," Brisson wrote in an email on Tuesday.

Kane's and Toews' current contracts expire after the 2014-15 season. They became eligible to sign extensions on July 1.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has said multiple times that he fully expects to sign both players to long-term deals. He last spoke to the media on July 1.

"As in terms of the negotiations, I think I've been pretty consistent in saying that I'm not going to comment on them other than it's ongoing," Bowman said on July 1. "Nothing has changed from my original expectation that they're both going to be signed. We're looking forward to that."

Kane and Toews are expected to agree to matching contract extensions as they did in 2009 when they signed identical five-year, $31.5 million contracts.

Kane, 25, and Toews, 26, were both top-five draft picks by the Blackhawks and began their NHL careers in 2007. They have won two Stanley Cups together and reached four Western Conference finals.

Kane has 178 goals and 315 assists in 515 career regular-season games, and Toews has 195 goals and 245 assists in 484 career regular-season games.

Hawks hire Waite as goaltender coach

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
4:02
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks announced the hiring of Jimmy Waite as their goaltending coach on Monday.

The 45-year-old Waite, a former Blackhawks goaltender, spent the past three seasons as the goaltending coach for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"We are pleased to welcome Jimmy back to our organization in his new role," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "He has over two decades of professional hockey experience and will be a great addition to our coaching staff."

Waite replaces Steve Weeks in the position. Weeks spent one season with the Blackhawks and was recently let go by the organization. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said recently it was his decision for Weeks not to return.

Waite is the younger brother of former Blackhawks goaltending coach Stephane Waite. Stephane coached with the Blackhawks for 10 seasons and is now the Montreal Canadiens goaltending coach.

Waite played professionally from 1988-2010. He was selected by the Blackhawks as the No. 8 overall pick in the 1987 draft and played in Chicago from 1988-1997.

Waite will work with Blackhawks goaltenders Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta next season.

"I’m very excited to come back to the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted me in 1987," Waite said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Corey and Antti, and to help contribute to the success of this organization."

Opportunity likely awaits Hawks' Rundblad

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
9:55
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Here's what you need to know about defenseman David Rundblad -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman attempted to trade for him multiple times over the last few seasons.

Bowman first tried during the 2013 season, and the Arizona Coyotes didn't budge. Bowman tried again last offseason, and the Coyotes again weren't interested. Finally, Bowman was able to obtain the 23-year-old Rundblad by trading a second-round pick in the 2014 draft for him and prospect defenseman Mathieu Brisebois on March 4.

Rundbland
Rundblad didn't get much of a chance to showcase his game after arriving to the Blackhawks. He played in just five regular-season games and was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs. Considering what Bowman gave up to get him and how much Bowman values his upside, Rundblad is likely to see the ice more with the Blackhawks next season.

"I think he's an example of a young player who's ready for an opportunity," Bowman said recently at the NHL draft. "He's in that age bracket where he's 23, 24 years old. I think he just needs an opportunity for us. He's got a ton of talent. He's got a little more familiarity with our system now.

"It's tough when he came in at the trade deadline. He didn't get a lot of games, but everything is new in terms of how we play, what the coaches are looking for. Now he comes into training camp, he's way ahead of where he was back in March, so I would expect that to be a benefit for him. He understands the style of our team, what our coaches like and what they want him to do, and I think he's going to have a comfort level so it's good for a player like that to come in and have a chance."

The Blackhawks have seven defensemen, including Rundblad, signed for next season. If the roster remains the same heading into the season, Rundblad could rotate into the lineup just as Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival have done the past two seasons. Rozsival is also returning next season. Brookbank is an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Rundblad plays a different game than Brookbank. Rundblad is best known for his offensive ability. He had 11 goals and 39 assists in 55 games in the Swedish Elite League during the 2010-11 season before arriving in the NHL.

Rundblad made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators during the 2011-12 season and has been up and down in the NHL and AHL since then. He's played in 55 NHL games and 86 AHL games over the past three seasons.

Rundblad was hopeful after joining the Blackhawks he would get a chance to play and eventually flourish.

"This is kind of a fresh start for me," Rundblad said in March. "I didn't really get a good opportunity in Phoenix. I felt like something had to happen because I need to play games."
While that didn't happen under Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville last season, Quenneville was optimistic Rundblad would play a larger role next season.

"He's part of our group," Quenneville said at the NHL draft. "He didn't get much of a chance, not much at all really. But there's some upside there. ... Hopefully we can get that out of him and get him stabilize where he can prove he can be a regular defenseman in our league."

Teuvo's chances slim to start season in NHL

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:53
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Teuvo Teravainen has stated he wants to begin the 2014-15 season with the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL.

"That's my goal to be with the Blackhawks next season, when the season starts," Teravainen said in April.

[+] EnlargeTeuvo Teravainen
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesAfter signing Brad Richards, the Blackhawks can afford to be patient with Teuvo Teravainen.
The chances of that decreased when the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards earlier this week. Teravainen, the organization's top prospect, is going to have to mesmerize Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman in training camp, and even then, his chances would still likely be slim to begin the season in the NHL.

With Richards along with Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks have a full house of capable centers. Even if Teravainen was switched to the wing, the Blackhawks don't possess an opening for him right now. The Blackhawks already have nine wings (Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Kris Versteeg, Jeremy Morin, Peter Regin, Ben Smith) signed for eight spots, and there's also a chance forwards Joakim Nordstrom and Brandon Mashinter could be in the mix for the NHL roster.

The reality is Teravainen is likely returning to where he ended last season, with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. Bowman didn't come out and say that recently, but he and the Blackhawks have been very careful in their approach to Teravainen. They have said over and over that they don't want to rush him.

The last Blackhawks' prospect in a similar situation to Teravainen was Saad. The Blackhawks were weighing what to do with Saad to begin the 2013 season. He started the season in the NHL, but was a healthy scratch in the season opener. It wasn't until Daniel Carcillo suffered a severe injury in that first game that Saad, who was then 20, received a full-time NHL opportunity.

"We're very confident in [Teravainen's] potential and his future with the Blackhawks," Bowman said on Tuesday. "The one thing you have to be careful of with young players is not to put them in situations to fail. He's just 19 years old. He won't turn 20 until training camp. There's still many years ahead of him."

Bowman acknowledged acquiring Richards allows the Blackhawks even more flexibility and time with Teravainen. Training camp will give the Blackhawks a greater opportunity to assess where Teravainen is with his game. He also is expected to participate in the Blackhawks' prospect camp in July.

"We're going to see where he's at when he gets to training camp," Bowman said. "[Richards] obviously gives us an established player who has played many years in the NHL at an important position at center. Now we have some latitude with Teuvo. He's going to dictate as to when he's ready to go. We don't have to force anything.

"It's always nice when players make it known when they're ready to be here. When that happens, we always accommodate them. We've seen it before with young players. Some of them take half a year. Some of them take one year. Some of them are ready right out of the gate. We don't need to predict that one. We'll just let it play out and be patient with it."

Prior to signing Richards, Quenneville also said Teravainen's training camp would be important. Teravainen played in two preseason games and three regular-season games for Quenneville last season. In between, he played a full season for Jokerit in Finland's Liiga and was among the league's points leaders.

"I just think it's probably a good summer for him," Quenneville said of Teravainen on Friday. "He had a busy year. Transition and adaptation to the next level coming overseas and coming over to this league and coming over to the North American game is going to be a change for him. I'm sure he's going to grow. He's going to get stronger.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays in camp. I would expect some progress. We liked what we saw last year at the beginning of the year. We'll see. He's going to make the decision for us in exactly where he's going to fit and where we're going to play him."

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