Chicago Blackhawks: Mike Kostka

Quenneville patient with Olympians

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
Powers By Scott Powers
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."

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Blackhawks place Kostka on waivers

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
Powers By Scott Powers
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Mike Kostka was placed on waivers Saturday, according to a source.

Kostka signed a one-year, $625,000 contract in July. The Blackhawks opted to keep Kostka in the NHL as the team’s eighth defensemen out of training camp and placed defenseman Ryan Stanton on waivers. Stanton was claimed by the Vancouver and has played 45 games for the Canucks this season.

Kostka, who missed almost two months of the season because of a lower-body injury, has two goals, one assist and a plus-three rating in nine games this season. He has often rotated with Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival for the team’s sixth defenseman spot in the lineup.

Kostka will be assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL if he clears waivers. The roster transaction was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Bickell scratched against Jets

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

"Coach’s decision," Quenneville said after his team's 3-1 loss to the Jets. "We need more. We want more. We’re looking for more."

Bickell was replaced by defenseman Mike Kostka on the third line in the game.

Bickell has seven goals, two assists and a minus-seven rating in 39 games this season. He has been limited to less than 10 minutes of ice time in each of the last six games. He missed nearly a month because of a knee injury earlier in the season.

Blackhawks keep practice light, short

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- If the Chicago Blackhawks ever find themselves in a 3-on-3 situation, coach Joel Quenneville may want to consider throwing Michal Handzus, Mike Kostka and Kris Versteeg onto the ice.

The trio likely wouldn’t have been favored by Vegas to be the Blackhawks’ 3-on-3 tournament champions, but that’s exactly what they became. Handzus, Kostka and Versteeg defeated five other teams for the title Saturday.

Quenneville considered giving his players Saturday off, but instead opted to create a fun and loose environment by having a 3-on-3 tournament where teams were distinguished by wearing white, green, red, blue and black jerseys. They practiced for about 30 minutes at Johnny's IceHouse West.

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook thought it was a brilliant idea.

“He’s done things like this in the past, and it’s been great,” Seabrook said. “I’m not going to speak for Joel, but maybe the boys needed a fun day like this. Something to get the emotion and excitement back.”

The Blackhawks are coming off two consecutive road losses. They fell to the Detroit Red Wings, 5-4, in a shootout Wednesday and to the Minnesota Wild, 2-1, in regulation on Thursday. Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the team’s pace in the games. The Blackhawks return to ice to play the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

“I think the last two games we didn’t have the pace we’re accustomed to,” Quenneville said. “We’re going to need it going forward.”

The pace was nonstop both ways throughout Saturday’s scrimmages. Blackhawks goaltenders Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta had little time to rest. Crawford also enjoyed it.

“That was definitely a change from our usual practices,” said Crawford, whom Quenneville announced would start Sunday. “Our practices, they’re short. They might be one of the shortest practices in the league. We’re definitely working hard the whole time. It’s high pace. That’s the same way we play. It was a little bit of a change today. Change up in what we’re doing today. I think everyone was loose and happy with what we did today.”

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp joked Jonathan Toews was the only one unhappy.

“Toews’ team came fifth out of six teams," Sharp said. "I don’t think Jonny is going to be able to sleep tonight. He’ll have a great game tomorrow.”