Chicago Blackhawks: Olympics
"Yeah, it'd be great," Quenneville said after practice at Johnny's IceHouse West. "I think the Canadians, they've done an outstanding job, that staff. I commend them on what they've accomplished over the last couple of Olympics. They've been perfect. I'm happy for them."
Canada has won the men's hockey gold medal in the past two Olympics. Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was Canada's head coach both times.
The Canadian-born Quenneville also holds citizenship in the U.S., but he isn't sure his allegiance to Canada would allow him to coach the U.S. in the Olympics if asked.
"I don't know," Quenneville said with a smile. "We'll see. I'm a Canadian. I don't know if that's ... We'll see."
The 55-year-old Quenneville ranks third all-time among NHL coaches with 695 wins. Only Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins) and Al Arbor (782 wins) have more victories than the Blackhawks coach, who has also won two Stanley Cups.
Canada defeated Latvia 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Sharp put Canada ahead 1-0 with a goal in the first period. He finished with one goal, two penalty minutes, two shots on goal, a plus-one rating and 12:37 of ice time. Canada plays the U.S. in the semifinals on Friday.
Jonathan Toews, forward, Canada
Toews had a secondary assist on Canada's winning goal against Latvia. He finished with one assist, two shots on goal, a zero rating and 18:15 of ice time. He also won 8-of-12 faceoffs.
Duncan Keith, defenseman, Canada
Keith had two penalty minutes, five shots on goal, a zero rating and 22:41 of ice time in Canada's victory.
Patrick Kane, forward, U.S.
The U.S. defeated the Czech Republic 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Kane had a secondary assist on the game's first goal. He finished with one assist, two shots on goal, a plus-one rating and 17:28 of ice time.
Michal Rozsival, defenseman, Czech Republic
Rozsival had one shot on goal, a minus-two rating and 18:54 of ice time in his team's loss to the U.S. He finished the tournament with zero points, four shots on goal, a minus-five rating and an ice time average of 14:13 in five games.
Johnny Oduya, defenseman, Sweden
Sweden defeated Slovenia 5-0 in the quarterfinals. Oduya had a secondary assist on Sweden's third goal. He finished with one assist, one shot on goal, a plus-one rating and 17:04 of ice time. Sweden will play Finland on Friday.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman, Sweden
Hjalmarsson had two shots on goal, a plus-one rating and 18:32 of ice time in Sweden's win over Slovenia.
Marcus Kruger, forward, Sweden
Kruger won 11-of-16 faceoffs against Slovenia. He also had one shot on goal, a plus-two rating and 11:54 of ice time.
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Toews isn't fully sure that's how it went down.
"I don't think that's why it is," Toews said after the Blackhawks' morning skate at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday. "I'm sure he said that to be polite. I think everyone knows that Sidney was the guy. I'm just honored first of all to be in the conversation for captaincy or assistant captain."
Toews, who will be an alternate captain, played for Babcock at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
"I never gave it to him," Babcock said when asked why he chose Toews to be an alternate captain. "He earned the right. He's won two Cups. He's won an Olympic Gold. He's won a World Juniors. I don't know what else he's won. He might have won more than that. He's a pro. He does it every day. He's a 200-footer.
"To me he's an impressive, impressive man. He's a guy, when we were talking about it, Sidney Crosby wanted to make sure it was OK with him because of the fact that he's won a couple Cups. He's held in high regard to say the least amongst coaches, amongst management, amongst players and he's a huge reason they win as much as they do."
Toews helped lead Canada to the gold medal and led the team with eight points.
"It means a lot (hearing those things), especially coming from a coach you've gone up against in the playoffs several times," Toews said. "It was an amazing seven-game series last year. I had the chance to play for him in the last Olympics so it means a lot and coming from a guy like Sidney as well.
"You just try and keep doing the things that make you successful and that helps you help the team be successful. If that pays off that's great, but I'm really excited to hear that."
Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2010, becoming the second-youngest to win the award. He's also the youngest to join the Triple Gold Club -- Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, World Juniors gold.
"I've always said when I'm asked these questions that I'll be honored in whatever role I get," Toews said. "If it's more a leadership role then I'm excited for that challenge. It's a quick two weeks. Everyone focuses on their own game, but you need to find that team chemistry and that'll make a difference for us. I'll try and be a big part of that."
Shea Weber is the other alternate captain.
"(Crosby) asking the other guys for their approval, I don't think he needed to do that," Toews said. "But that shows what kind of guy he is and he's a great captain in Pittsburgh."
Wednesday's lineup: Here's the Blackhawks' line combinations against the Wings.
Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad-Andrew Shaw-Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell-Michal Handzus-Kris Versteeg
Brandon Bollig-Marcus Kruger-Ben Smith
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy-Michael Kostka
Corey Crawford (starting)
Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank
Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (rotator-cuff surgery)
Seabrook thought he was going to be told he had been selected to Team Canada for the second consecutive Olympics. Moments later, he learned the caller was actually bringing bad news. He had been skipped over this time around.
While eight Blackhawks celebrated being named to their respective countries’ Olympic teams Tuesday, Seabrook and goaltender Corey Crawford discovered they had not been chosen. Both had participated in Canada’s orientation camp in August.
“It was a tough call this morning when I got the phone call, but you know Canada's got a lot of great players,” Seabrook said after practice Tuesday. “You saw the team they're putting out there. It's going to be a good team. I'm looking forward to watching, maybe having a few beers and relaxing over the break.”
Crawford had also been hopeful of making the team. He hadn’t been selected to participate in the Olympics before.
“Yeah, it's pretty disappointing,” Crawford said. “It was definitely a goal of mine. I didn't make it, so move on, focus on our team and winning hockey games here.”
Quenneville was fired by the St. Louis Blues midway through the 2003-04 season.
“It’s a tough part of our business,” Quenneville said after practice Friday. “I know as players getting traded is always the downer. As coaches, getting relieved of your duty is as tough as it gets. I tried to get a hold of [Dineen] this morning. I know what he’s feeling like. It’s not a good day. You got to pick yourself up and keep fighting.”
Quenneville realizes being fired is an inevitable part of a coaching career.
“At some point [everyone gets fired], for sure,” Quenneville said. “We’re all in a winning business, and I think we all understand that going into it. It’ll be a tough day.”
Happy for Madden: Quenneville was happy former Blackhawk John Madden was named one of the Panthers’ new assistant coaches Friday.
Madden played for the Blackhawks during their 2009-10 Stanley Cup season.
“Mad Dog, that’s good for him,” Quenneville said. “He had that player mentality where he was workmanlike and student-like as far as how he approached not just the game, but the defensive side of the game, the penalty-killing situation. He can bring something to the plate, to the game with his enthusiasm and passion for the sport.”
20. Getting Leddy back to form
Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy had a postseason to forget with a minus-8 rating in 23 games and was limited to a career-low 2:37 of ice time in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's lack of confidence in Leddy isn't expected to carry over into this season, but it would help both sides for Leddy to have a strong start to the season. He is still just 22, but he's now entering his fourth NHL season and will be expected to be more consistent. He signed a two-year, $5.4 million deal in the offseason.
19. Keeping Shaw on the right side of the line
Andrew Shaw thrived last season in the role of agitator and third-line center for the Blackhawks. On the third line, he was reliable enough defensively, was able to set up his wingers and could chip in the occasional goal. He has also been known to mix it up with opposing players and get under their skin. His post-whistle activities have at times worked against the Blackhawks and led to unnecessary penalties. Michal Handzus had a talk with Shaw during the playoffs about utilizing that additional energy, but also being smart about it. Shaw did a better job of doing that as the playoffs progressed. It will be important again for Shaw to find the right side of that line this season.
Each player was called to center ice after a video tribute of the Olympic tournament. As Patrick Kane skated to his spot wearing his silver medal chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” overtook the United Center. He and Jonathan Toews had the loudest applause from the sell-out crowd. Toews was voted best forward of the tournament.
Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook wore their gold medals while Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa, from Team Slovakia, were honored as well.
Video coach for Team USA and the Blackhawks, Brad Aldrich was also recognized, as was NBC and Hawks analyst, Eddie Olczyk.
The gold medal game in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament spoke for itself -- a wonderfully dramatic game played by the best players in the world. If there is one thing Chicago Blackhawks fans should take away from it all, it’s that the Hawk stars are as good as any players on the planet.
No NHL team that sent players to Vancouver showed itself better than the Hawks. The gold medal game is a pointed example of what a big part they played in this two-week hockey festival.
Jonathan Toews scored the game’s first goal while playing 17 important minutes, having been on the ice in crucial times both in regulation and in overtime. Duncan Keith had an assist, was plus two, and once again played more than 20 minutes. And the world got to see what Hawk fans see every day in Patrick Kane: domination with the puck. He had two assists -- one on the dramatic tying goal -- and was plus two while racking up a team-high four shots. All of his shots were seemingly good scoring chances. Yes, I’d say it was a good gold medal game for the Blackhawks.
Brent Seabrook was the odd man out in terms of playing time, but didn’t do anything to disgrace himself or the sweater he wears for his day job.
As for Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, they nearly led upstart Slovakia to their first medal in hockey. Playing on the same line, they were also on the ice at crucial moments and Hossa was arguably the Slovaks’ best player. In their bronze medal game, he had a goal and a shorthanded assist. In total, he had nine points in Slovakia’s seven games.
Having said all that, it would be hard to find someone to argue that Toews wasn’t the best of the bunch. He made the tournament All-Star team and his numbers over Canada’s seven games jump off the page. Eight points with a plus nine rating. No other Canadian was better than plus six. If the puck was to be had, Toews was the one to have it. Behind the net, in his own zone and along the boards, he was as good as any player in the entire tournament.
The other winner, besides fans that watched the tournament, was USA hockey. It made a statement that its players are every bit as good as their northerly neighbors. And an overtime loss in the gold medal game didn’t do anything to change that. In fact, it only enhanced that feeling. Canada and the U.S. went toe-to-toe twice and the total tally was six goals (non-empty netters) apiece. They each had one win; Canada’s was just a bit more timely.
The U.S. came up short in the final game of the tournament but came up big in showcasing its homegrown talent. And the Hawks came up big showing the world and rest of the NHL what they may have in store for them come time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Here are the tournament totals for the six Hawk players:
Ok, Canada. We see your Russian routing and raise you a Finnish filleting.
In advancing to the gold medal game on Sunday, the U.S. team put on a first-period show reminiscent of what their arch-rivals did a couple nights earlier against Russia. In fact, the Americans did it even better.
When the first 20 minutes was over, Patrick Kane had two goals and the U.S. team led 6-0, while Finnish starting goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff was sent to the proverbial showers after giving up the first four. The rest of the game was academic. The Americans won 6-1.
It might seem like a day ago to the Finns, but they actually started the game in good fashion. Led by former Hawk Tuomo Ruutu, Team Finland spent the first two minutes in the U.S. zone and looked to be a tough competitor, but then came Kiprusoff’s biggest mistake. He came out to play a puck in front of him on an easy dump-in, but he misplayed it onto Ryan Malone’s stick, who had a near empty-net goal with Kiprusoff way out of position. The momentum changed for the next 18 minutes.
Kane got into the action with the U.S. already up 3-0. He created a turnover near his own blueline with a nifty poke check, and took the puck into the offensive zone. As the sequence developed, Kiprusoff went down, Kane picked up the rebound of his own shot, and then hammered a backhander home put the Americans up 4-0. That would be it for the Calgary Flames' starting goaltender. Nicklas Backstrom took over but with little improvement.
Kane scored the American’s fifth goal of the first period after yet another Finnish turnover. He came down on Backstrom on a two-on-one and dented the back of the net with his patent snap shot. Kane played his best game of the tournament, finishing with those two goals on five shots in 17:04 of ice time. He was simply more noticeable on the ice, and with the puck, then in previous contests.
Turnovers were the name of the game in that dominant first period. Finland kept handing the puck over and the Americans kept taking advantage. They’ll need one more game with some of that thievery on Sunday to bring home the gold.
One half of the dream rematch in is place. Now it's Canada’s turn to try and raise the stakes for the ultimate Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament finale.
On second thought, you won’t see the three Hawk Olympians on Team Canada at practice when the Blackhawks resume work on Thursday -- at least not for a few more days. Their Olympic team finally came to play, avoiding elimination for the second straight night and advancing to the semi-finals on Friday.
Canada woke up from its tournament slumber, pasting what was thought to be a dangerous Russian squad 7-3. The emotion Canada showed compared to previous games was night and day. From the drop of the puck, the host country’s team simply would not be denied. They scored 2:21 into the game and never looked back after a four-goal opening period. Russia looked stunned, if not shocked by the onslaught.
Again, Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews was one of the better players on the ice as his international star continues to grow. Toews had assists on two of Canada’s seven goals. In the first, he incited a Russian turnover, then moved up ice and received a pass only to feed Rick Nash for an easy goal. That put Canada up 3-0. In the second, he took a loose puck, entered the offensive zone and found Shea Weber to extend the lead to 6-1. Toews has been nothing short of fantastic on both ends of the ice in his Olympic debut. He played 15:50, finishing with those two helpers and a plus 2 rating. In the five games Canada has played, he’s a team-best plus nine with a team-high seven assists. That’s right, Toews is helping lead the way on one of the most talented teams Canada has ever assembled.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook had solid efforts as well, though again Seabrook played limited minutes. Keith had two assists in 22:54 of ice time and if Toews has been the most consistent forward, then Keith has done the same on the back end. Seabrook played well in only 7:49 of ice time.
Speaking of defense, Canada’s seven blueliners made the difference between this game and previous ones in the tournament. They played with aggression and passion, jumping into the offensive play and putting more pressure on Russia than they could handle. On this night, they combined for two goals and five assists. Those are more like the numbers Canada expected when its team was put together.
Canada may have found its game, but their next contest will certainly confirm or refute that. But for now, they’ve put their stamp on this tournament with their biggest victory yet. The U.S. and Canada are one game away from the ultimate rematch. On to the semifinals.
For anyone who was at work during the U.S. and Switzerland’s quarterfinal men’s hockey game, hopefully your TiVo was working properly. If you can have a classic at this time in the tournament, these teams just played one. The Americans survived with a 2-0 victory -- one was an empty netter -- and will play for a medal in the Winter Games no matter what happens in the semifinals.
This game had everything. Big hits, video replays, power-play chances and a goaltender that kept the Swiss in the game. Jonas Hiller was fantastic, stopping 43 shots while giving up just a lone Zach Parise goal early in the third period on a U.S. power play. Much of this game was played 0-0 and that only helped build the drama.
Patrick Kane had a quiet afternoon, finishing with four shots in 16:13 of ice time. Kane did have one nice backhand chance as he came out from behind the Swiss net but Hiller made the save.
In most statistical categories the Swiss were outplayed by the Americans but the heart and fundamentals of this scrappy team can’t be overlooked. They played in three shootouts and every one of their games were close. No small feat when playing Canada or the U.S. in three of their five Olympic contests. Here are the final scores for all of Switzerland’s games: 3-1, 3-2, 5-4, 3-2 and, for all practical purposes, 1-0. It was a perfect scenario for an upset. The Americans were coming off their dramatic win over Canada while Switzerland kept plugging away to reach the quarterfinals.
An apparent U.S. goal at the end of the second period was overturned by replay when the clock showed 0.00 just as the puck crossed the line. It was that close. In the third, during one sequence, a Swiss shot had to be reviewed to see if it went in, while moments later a U.S. goal was disallowed after a crosschecking penalty was called on Ryan Kesler as the puck crossed the line. Did I mention it was a great game?
At the end of the day, the Americans’ persistence and lack of panic paid off. Many teams would start to get fancy or push the envelope when unable to score for so long, despite the 44-19 shot advantage. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday and hasn’t been throughout the tournament. Head coach Ron Wilson has pushed all the right buttons.
Next, the U.S. takes on the winner of Finland and the Czech Republic. That game will be on Friday with the winner playing for gold. The dream continues for the young but confident Americans.
Team USA winger Patrick Kane said it was "pretty cool" to get a request from snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White to hang out in Vancouver, but Kane's focus is on two goals: winning gold and a Stanley Cup.
The Chicago Blackhawks star was asked which goal would be more meaningful.
"That's a really tough question," Kane said before practice Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Right now, my main focus is on this, so I guess first come, first served. It would be nice to win this one right now.
"The obvious answer is to win both this year. It would be quite an amazing year."
Before he left for Vancouver, Patrick Kane was realistic about the U.S. team and its chances to win a medal.
“We’re a longshot. I know that,” Kane said. “Maybe we can use that to our advantage.”
Longshots no more, the U.S. team will enter quarterfinal play as the No. 1 seed. On Monday, Kane sat down in Vancouver for a live chat with fans on the Blackhawks' Web site. Safe to say, the win on Sunday was a highlight.
“Pretty fun moment, us USA-born players and a great feeling for sure -- just winning the game to be honest with you, but I think it was a good measuring stick for us, and we proved ourselves well,” Kane said.
Kane played over 16 minutes on Sunday but said he wasn’t on the ice much against his Hawks teammates, other than Duncan Keith. He did stop for a moment in the handshake line to congratulate Toews, who had two assists Sunday.
“I thought he played a really good game, and I just told him that,” Kane said. “It's not fun being on the other side after playing with him for so long. I told him good job and wished him luck the rest of the tournament.”
As you would expect Kane gave high praise to goaltender Ryan Miller.
“He's been outstanding, that's for sure,” Kane said. “He made a lot of big, key saves late in the third. He's been everything I expected him to be, especially in a tourney like this where goaltending can be so big. Even against the Norwegians and Swiss, he made key saves to keep us in the game early. He's been remarkable so far.”
Kane was asked which was more intense: the NHL playoffs last year or Sunday’s game against Canada?
“I'd probably say last year's playoffs, but last night's game is right up there with anything I've ever played being in a hostile environment,” Kane said. “The Canadians came out for warmups a few minutes after us and it just erupted. I think it's going to heat up as the Games go on.”
So back to those predictions for the U.S. team. Kane didn't give much credence to a gold medal before the Games. Now, winning it seems like a real possibility.
“I do. I really do right now," Kane said. "Going into this I think people saw us as underdogs, but we finished first to start the prelims, and we beat Canada, probably the most skilled team in the tourney, so we're excited about our chances.”
So it goes for the Olympics when it comes to men’s hockey. As the tournament begins, six Chicago Blackhawks will disperse to three different teams and then fight it out for gold in Vancouver.
In preliminary rounds only the U.S. is slated to face Canada, but any of the three teams could meet in later rounds as they whittle it down to the gold medal game on Sunday, Feb. 28.
The Hawks say they understand the enormity of the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean they’re out for blood -- especially if and when they face each other.
“It’s going to be a little awkward when you see them on the opposite team,” Marian Hossa said recently. “I’m sure when the puck drops everybody will focus on their jobs.”
But when your job includes delivering bone-crunching checks to your friends, awkward seems to just scratch the surface.
“When you have a chance to finish a check, you want to finish a check, but you have to smart about it,” Hossa said. “You don’t want to be stupid.”
No two players are linked more than Toews and Kane. They’ve done just about everything together since they came into the league, including signing exactly the same contracts on the same day earlier this season. Now they will go head-to-head on the ice.
“You’re not friends when you’re out there,” Toews explained. “It’s a competition. Its fun to go up against a teammate like him and you don’t want him to get the best of you, so you have to give that effort and make sure that it doesn’t happen. I look forward to being on the ice with him at the same time.”
“I mean you’re going to try and beat him in a one-on-one battle but, no, there will be no cheap shots,” Kane responded.
No cheap shots doesn’t mean no hitting, though. Kane knows he might feel it from one of his friends that plays defense for Team Canada. In fact, you can expect Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to be tasked with stopping the shifty forward.
“They might light me up,” Kane said. “[Keith] lit me up in training camp this year. I was reaching for the puck, going for the puck, and I didn’t expect it at all and he labeled me. That was training camp. This is the Olympics so I would expect it.”
“Nobody is out there to hurt anybody, but obviously everybody has to play hard,” Keith said. “You can’t take anyone lightly, but at the same time I realize he’s on our team. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt but I especially don’t want to see him get hurt.”
You might think Hawks coach Joel Quenneville would be the one guy rooting for little checking in the Olympics, but even he says the fierce competition won’t allow for that. He doesn’t expect any letting up, even if it is Hawk vs. Hawk.
“You’re playing hockey,” Quenneville said. “You don’t have the time to think about that. You know, nice guys finish last.”
Toews, for one, understands how the city of Chicago will react if one of the six Hawks does get injured. He answered the question about the only way he could.
“We’re putting the Hawks on the map on an international level ... and, knock on wood, you don’t want anything like that to happen,” Toews said. “Hopefully the fans understand that’s what we are trying to do -- represent our team the right way.”
In the end, it should make for great theater and with players who know each other so well, they say, it will be very interesting who gets the better of whom.
“I’m sure [Keith] will play me hard and be yapping on the ice or whatever,” Kane said. “[Seabrook] will be the same way. He’ll probably try to line me up and fold me. Hopefully I can get the better of them.”
“I don’t know all of his [Kane’s] moves,” Keith explained. “He’s got too may moves to memorize. He’s pretty skilled. I’m going to have to be on my toes.”
Toews isn’t opposed to laying a nice, clean hit on his buddy.
“It could be pretty funny and something to talk about after, for sure,” Toews said.