Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane

Quenneville hopes changes spark offense

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
4:32
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Joel QuennevilleJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJoel Quenneville will make some changes to his line for Tuesday's game against the Flyers.


CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had time to think about his lines during the team’s day off on Sunday.

On Monday morning, he returned to the rink with changes in mind.

Quenneville mixed up his second, third and fourth lines during practice on Monday. His lines had been Brandon Saad-Andrew Shaw-Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell-Brad Richards-Ben Smith, Daniel Carcillo-Marcus Kruger-Jeremy Morin. On Monday, the lines were Kris Versteeg-Shaw-Kane, Bickell-Richards-Saad, Carcillo-Kruger-Smith.

The changes weren’t a surprise. The Blackhawks have built a 3-0-1 record, but they haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard. They have scored 11 goals in the four games, with six coming at even strength, three on the power play and two shorthanded. Of the even-strength goals, only three have been scored by forwards. Carcillo, Kane and Shaw have accounted for those goals.

“It's something we've talked about -- we’re happy with getting wins, but at the same time we want to keep building and keep getting better every game,” Saad said. “That's something we haven't seen too much of and we need to pick it up.”

Saad said he didn’t take being moved off the second line personally. He expected Quenneville would tell him if he needed to improve on anything.

Quenneville did say Monday he wasn’t getting what he wanted from the line of Saad-Shaw-Kane. Quenneville reunited that trio just before the regular season began. Saad and Shaw have the team’s lowest Corsi percentages in 5-on-5 situations among the players who have appeared in all four games. Shaw is at 52.04 percent and Saad at 53.12 percent. Kane is 10th on the team at 60.17 percent.

“I haven’t seen possession,” Quenneville said of that line. “They’ve had more shifts in their own end the last couple of games. I didn’t mind them first couple of games. The last two hasn’t been as effective as we’ve seen.”

Quenneville thought getting to the net more would help all of his lines.

"As a team I still think we got to get more guys going to the net without the puck," Quenneville said. "With the puck down low, we should be looking to take ourselves in that area. I just think we need to score some more greaser goals than we have earlier this year. I think we’re looking for more presence in that area whether [Saad's] the guy, Bickell’s the guy. I can go down the lineup. Still got to go no matter who, what kind of player you are if you want to score goals. That’s where you got to get to."

Quenneville is hoping Versteeg, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, will spark the second line, and Saad will help improve the third line.

“They were better the last game,” Quenneville said of the third line. “I would expect Saader’s line, him wherever he plays, to give that line a boost and make a contribution be it offensively or with the puck, be more of a threat.”

The other major change was removing Morin from the lineup. He has been effective when on the ice. He has a 64.91 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations and has averaged 18.53 shots per 60 minutes, but he hasn’t been given much ice time. He’s averaged 6:37 of ice time through four games.

Quenneville recognized that Morin hadn’t received much of an opportunity to showcase his game.

“Mo has been fine,” Quenneville said. “I think every game there’s been a lot of special teams. All of a sudden, he misses out on that rotation of that line. [Kruger and Smith], when they get together with Carcillo, that line’s played pretty well. So, he’s been fine, but he certainly hasn’t got a ton of ice time to get a fair assessment.”

Morin tried to keep a positive attitude after practice.

“I don’t really know the lineup right now,” Morin said. “I’m just coming to practice and hopefully I’m in the lineup. If I’m not, I’ll work my way to get back in.

“It’s always hard to get out there and play well and I definitely think I can be playing better. It’s my goal. I have to earn my ice time and keep working at it.”

Kane puts shootout woes behind him, delivers winner for Hawks

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
12:54
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Patrick KaneAP Photo/Brandon WadeThursday's winner gave Patrick Kane as many shootout goals this season as he had last.

DALLAS -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane took scoring just one shootout goal last season personally.

He expects more out of himself. Kane has always considered his scoring ability -- particularly when given a one-on-one opportunity with a goaltender -- to be one of his greatest strengths. Converting just once on 11 shootout chances wasn't acceptable, and the 25-year-old worked on perfecting various scoring moves in the offseason.

Kane didn't have to wait long to test one of them. The Blackhawks reached a shootout in their season-opening game against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, and Kane was second in line to go up against Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

Kane picked up speed as he took possession of the puck at center ice and continued with some pace until he reached the middle of the two circles. He slowed down and began handling the puck from to left to right rapidly as he drifted toward the net. Within a few feet of Lehtonen, Kane finally faked as he was going to his left with his forehand, quickly moved the puck to his right, lifted it with his backhand and shot it over Lehtonen's left shoulder and into the top-right corner of the net.

Kane didn't go through an elaborate celebration, as he's known to do after scoring a regular goal, but he said he was feeling good inside.

"Yeah, it's frustrating when you think you're good at something and you can't seem to figure it out," Kane said. "It's nice to start off this year the right way in that category.

"You work on a couple moves that you think will work and you try some things in practice. It's nice to score the first one of the season, obviously. I know I have as many as I did last year right now, so it'd be nice to keep improving on that and be a factor in that and get us some more points when needed."

Kane wasn't improvising, either, as he approached Lehtonen. He was set on his strategy from start to finish.

"Yeah, I knew what I was doing the whole way down today," Kane said. "I had kind of a gut feeling, whether it was watching video before the game or trying some things in practice, I just kind of put a move in the back of my head and stuck to it the whole way.

"I know the backhand was good for a while, then I was working on that slowdown move that seemed to be pretty effective for a little while. You've just got to switch it up. Try to come down with a couple moves. You look at Tazer [Jonathan Toews]. He comes down every time and has a different move and ends up scoring a lot. Try to put some different things in your arsenal."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville liked the look of Kane's move Thursday. He was also happy to pull out two points in the shootout.

"Yeah, beautiful play," Quenneville said. "Beautiful play. … I think that was definitely a sore spot for us last year. We didn't pick up an extra five or six points in that area over the course of 82 games. Puts you in a decent spot."

Brad Richards makes United Center debut

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
10:58
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CHICAGO -- Brad Richards was reminded again Monday why he made the right decision in signing with the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason.

Richards got his first taste of playing for the Blackhawks before the home crowd Monday. He and his new teammates scrimmaged before a packed house at the United Center.

“Really impressive,” said Richards, who played his previous three seasons with the New York Rangers. “For a red-and-white game, an intrasquad, I haven’t been a part of something like that. So it makes you feel better for choosing to come here. All the stories are true that the fans are amazing. We all know the building’s amazing when you play here, but it’s nice to have the jersey on with them. It’ll be better obviously when it’s a real game.”

The scrimmage was another opportunity for Richards to get to know his new linemates, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. None of them scored, but they created a number of chances. Richards did feel bad about catching Kane with a stick to the face.

“We’re just trying to build chemistry on our line,” Richards said. “Had some good looks again, our line. We just, especially myself, could have put a few in the net, but didn’t. Save those for important games. Try not to hit Kaner in the face. Try not to do that too much more. Build chemistry and just work with these guys and get to know and learn them out there.”

Face injuries: Kane and Patrick Sharp took sticks to the face during the scrimmage. Sharp was hit by Matt Carey.

Kane and Sharp each went to the locker room after being struck. Both eventually returned to the ice.

“They both got souvenirs,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Nice to see them return.”

Scrimmage result: The White Team defeated the Red Team 5-1 in the scrimmage. Goals were scored by Marcus Kruger (two), Jeremy Morin, Jonathan Toews, Cam Barker and Mark McNeill. Morin and Ben Smith each had two assists.

The most productive line of the game was Morin, Kruger and Smith. Kruger and Smith played together throughout last season on the fourth line. Morin is vying for a spot on that line.

“That line had a good night offensively,” Quenneville said. “When they score, it’s almost a bonus, and a lot of nights the differential in winning the game when you get some production from that group. It’s a nice situation when you do get scoring from them.”

Kane stars in training camp, commercials

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
3:00
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville laughed as soon as he said Patrick Kane's name.

Quenneville had been asked which players stood out to him during the Blackhawks' three days of training camp at Notre Dame. The question was meant to get Quenneville’s opinion on players outside of the Blackhawks superstars, but Quenneville was simply being honest.

“Kaner,” Quenneville replied and then laughed. “He was pretty good today.”

Kane put the finishing touches on a productive training camp on Sunday, accounting for the primary assist on three goals during a scrimmage. Add those assists with the three goals he scored on Friday and Saturday, and he was easily the team’s points leader over the three days.

Kane put little stock in his numbers, but he was pleased to get the season under way.

“It’s fun to get out here and play in a game-like atmosphere and game pace,” Kane said. “But it is the beginning of training camp. I think the most important thing is getting yourself back in game shape, kind of feeling the puck, feeling the things you can actually do out there and be successful within the game. It was fun coming down here. I thought it was a great experience once again to come down to Notre Dame, be a part of the first couple days of training camp down here. Have some good skates, have some good scrimmages and good workouts.”

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Blackhawks' Day 3 training camp notes

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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Here are some notes and tidbits from the Chicago Blackhawks training camp at Notre Dame on Sunday:

  • Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he expected Ben Smith to get first crack at Michal Handzus' penalty-killing role. Handzus and Marcus Kruger were normally the team’s top forward pairing on penalty kills last season. Smith was fifth among the Blackhawks forwards last season with 95:46 of short-handed ice time. Handzus played 148:19 on the penalty kill.

  • Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane commented on how much he and his teammates enjoyed using the shooting and stick-handling rooms at Notre Dame’s hockey facility. Kane believed the Blackhawks organization understood the players’ desire for similar perks.

    “I don’t think we need to pitch it to them,” Kane said. “I think they know. There are rumors about what’s going on with the practice rink and things like that, so we’ll see what happens. I’m sure they’ll try to put something in like that, too.”

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    Hawks training camp notes

    September, 20, 2014
    Sep 20
    8:38
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Here are some notes and tidbits from the Chicago Blackhawks training camp Saturday:
    • Forward Ryan Hartman celebrated his 20th birthday with a goal during a scrimmage. “It’s a good birthday gift, I guess,” he said. Hartman, a Chicago-area native, had a number of family members in town to celebrate with him.
    • Teuvo Teravainen had the highlight goal of the day after he deked to his right and finished to his left past goaltender Scott Darling. Teravainen wasn’t sure what he did. “I didn’t know I had a move there,” he said. “I just got the puck from [Mark] McNeill. I was pretty close to goal, so I just tried to move the goalie a little bit and shoot.”
    • Patrick Kane leads all scorers with three goals after two days of scrimmages. He scored a goal in each of the scrimmages Friday and added another Saturday. Teravainen, Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each have two goals.
    • Stephen Johns, who played four years at Notre Dame, got a lot of love from the stands after setting up Jonathan Toews for a goal. The large crowd erupted in cheers when Johns’ name was announced with an assist on the play. Johns has also been giving daily interviews to local media members.
    • The Blackhawks are trying out Matt Carey at wing. He played center throughout college at St. Lawrence University. “Today is the first day we’ve put him on the wing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked him a lot. He seemed like he was more noticeable today. But he’s got some speed; he’s got some quickness to his game. We got a lot of centers organizationally. They’re almost all in that same area. I think maybe we’ll get an opportunity to see him on the wing and see how he handles it. I think that versatility will be something he can add to his game as well.”
    • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford can be expected to play in at least two full preseason games. The rest of the work will likely be divided among Antti Raanta, Michael Leighton and Darling. Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth could also have a chance to play in net. “There will probably be four guys who get the games,” Quenneville said. “How much is still being determined. Corey, we probably want to get him a couple of full games. I imagine the first two games we’ll split those half-games between the goalies.”
    • Quote of the day came from Kris Versteeg, who got married during the summer. “Yeah, all married up and she’s got me on lockdown,” he said. “So there were a lot of veggie juices this summer. It’s a new look on life and hopefully start a family.”

    Saad, Richards, Kane jell from the start

    September, 19, 2014
    Sep 19
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Stephen Johns doesn't have an NHL game under his belt yet, but he knows enough about hockey to realize Brandon Saad, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane were clicking as a line on the first day of Chicago Blackhawks training camp.

    "It was pretty tough to be matched up against those guys," Johns said after facing the line in a morning scrimmage at the Compton Family Ice Arena at Notre Dame on Friday. "Obviously, we all know the skill Kane has. Even today, they looked like they fed off each other pretty well. They scored two goals. Yeah, looked pretty good to me."

    [+] EnlargePatrick Kane
    AP Photo/Joe RaymondPatrick Kane was "extremely dangerous," according to Joel Quenneville, in his first practice on Friday.
    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't waste any time in seeing what he had in a line of Saad, Richards and Kane. The first time they took the ice together Friday was for the camp's first scrimmage, and it didn't take long for them to get on the same page.

    The three players took turns in holding on to the puck, waiting for the other two to find open space and then either creating something off that for themselves or for their teammates. The line played together in scrimmages on the day and created three goals. Saad connected with Kane for one, Richards hit Kane for another, and defenseman Nick Leddy scored the other with the line on the ice.

    Quenneville couldn't have asked for a better first impression of the line.

    "First scrimmage, they had the puck a lot," Quenneville said. "Kaner was very noticeable. First scrimmage, I thought he was extremely dangerous, fun to watch. I think Brad kind of probably had a feeling and appetite, ‘Well, this could be fun playing with this guy.' I thought Brad was excellent in the second scrimmage and started trying to see some things, developing what potentially could be plays, you know, having Kaner, having that patience, drawing guys to him and then slipping it through, give and go type of thing. Could lead to a real nice line. I thought they were very dangerous, had a lot of opportunities. It was a good first day for sure."

    Richards, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal in the offseason, has been around the NHL for 13 seasons, but he still felt some nerves heading into the first day of training camp.

    "I've watched enough hockey to know how good they are and how good this team's been," said Richards, who played the last three seasons for the New York Rangers. "For me, as many games as I've played, I had butterflies today because it's a new team and I want to get off to a good start and I want to prove that I've got tons of hockey left in my career. Great opportunity for me. It was an exciting day for me."

    Kane had similar feelings about the first day. He's gotten to know Richards a bit in the offseason by living in the same building in Chicago, carpooling to informal practices and being on the ice together. Kane has especially been impressed by Richards' ability to create plays out of nothing.

    "I thought we were good," Kane said. "Richards makes some plays you don't really expect, so he's definitely an offensive talent. He has a great mind for the game, and I'm excited to get a chance to play with not only him but Saader, too. We had some nice plays out there. For the first day of camp, I thought it went pretty well. Hopefully keep getting better and improving.

    "Everything's different. Sometimes you click right away, sometimes you have to get adjusted to what one another does on the ice and what each other's tendencies are. For the first day, I though the chemistry was pretty good for all three of us. Looking to build on that and find out more about each other as we go on here."

    Quenneville believes one of the keys for Richards to play with Kane is to understand Kane likes to possess the puck. It was something Kane showed at times during the scrimmages on Friday.

    "I think a lot of times traditionally your centers have the puck more," Quenneville said. "In the situation with Kaner, you want him to have the puck. I think that's something you're probably going to learn. Don't be surprised when it ends up on your stick, and knowing when it is on your stick it's not a bad idea to get it to him as quickly as possible. He's got a tremendous patience level with it. I think that's probably something Brad [hasn't had] the luxury of having a Kaner to play with throughout his career, but he's had some good wingers along the way. I'm sure he enjoyed today."

    Hawks storyline (No. 5): More Kane, Toews

    September, 17, 2014
    Sep 17
    4:11
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    ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down the days to the opening of Blackhawks training camp on Friday with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

    The Chicago Blackhawks aren't going to pay Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews a combined $168 million in their next contracts for what they have already accomplished.

    [+] EnlargeBlackhawks
    AP Photo/Daily Herald/Mark WelshThe Blackhawks are counting on more of the same from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane during their new contracts.
    Their individual successes -- the two Stanley Cups and being the faces of the organization -- certainly added to their price tag. But ultimately what the Blackhawks are paying Kane and Toews to do in the future is to keep it up.

    The Blackhawks are banking on their superstars being superstars for many years to come.

    "Jonathan and Patrick have become cornerstones of this franchise during their time in Chicago," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said after signing Kane and Toews to extensions in July. "We are excited to ensure they will continue to lead our organization for years to come."

    Kane and Toews have certainly set the bar high for themselves after their first seven NHL seasons:

    • Toews and Kane have produced in the regular season. Toews has 195 goals, 245 assists, 440 points and is a plus-141 in seven seasons. Kane has 178 goals, 315 assists, 493 points and is a plus-41.

    • They have been clutch in the playoffs, too. Toews has 29 goals, 52 assists, 81 points and is a plus-10 in 94 playoff games. Kane has 37 goals, 54 assists, 91 points and is a plus-1 in 93 playoff games. They have combined for 17 game-winning playoff goals. Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2010, and Kane was awarded it in 2013.

    • Toews is considered one of the best two-way forwards in the game. He won the Selke Trophy in 2013 and has been a finalist multiple times. He's ranked in the top 20 in on-ice Corsi in six of his seven seasons.

    • Only Henrik Sedin, Martin St. Louis, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have registered more points than Kane in 5-on-5 situations over the past seven seasons. Kane has recorded 291 points during that span.

    • Kane and Toews have been durable for much of their careers. Out of 540 regular season games in the past seven seasons, Kane has played in 515 games and Toews has played in 484.

    • The Blackhawks had been to the playoffs once in the nine years prior to their rookie season. Since their arrival, the Blackhawks have been to the playoffs six times, reached the Western Conference finals four times and won two Stanley Cups. The Blackhawks have gone 309-163-68 over the past seven seasons.

    Hawks storylines (No. 15): Numbers game

    September, 11, 2014
    Sep 11
    10:10
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    ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down the days to the opening of Blackhawks training camp on Sept. 19 with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

    Here are some numbers to keep in mind as the season unfolds for the Blackhawks (all statistics were found on stats.hockeyanalysis.com or behindthenet.ca):

    Kane's production with teammates


    Nearly every center who found his way onto the Blackhawks roster last season got a chance to skate with Patrick Kane. Some had more success than others. Andrew Shaw clicked with Kane, and Kane had seven goals, seven assists and a 59.7 Corsi percentage during 197:05 of 5-on-5 ice time with Shaw. On the other hand, Kane struggled with Michal Handzus with one goal, seven assists and a 50.9 Corsi percentage while on the ice 310:16 with the veteran center. Kane's line to start this season is expected to include Brandon Saad and Brad Richards. Kane had seven goals, nine assists and a 56.3 Corsi percentage with Saad.

    Puck possession


    The Blackhawks have been a dominant puck-possession team over the past five seasons. They have ranked in the league's top-6 in Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations throughout that span. They were second with a 55.5 percentage last season, their highest percentage since being at 56.5 percent during the 2009-10 season.

    Morin's potential

    Jeremy Morin played in just 24 games last season, so his sample size isn't that large. But in that short span, he was statistically impressive. Morin led the Blackhawks with an average of 12.22 shots per 60 minutes, 1.421 goals per 60 minutes and 3.13 points per 60 minutes. If Morin gets some consistent ice time and a larger role this season, which is something Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville have mentioned, he may just be headed toward a breakout offensive season.

    Defensive responsibility


    One of the main reasons defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are often able to utilize their offensive abilities is because defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson are given more of the defensive load. Oduya and Hjalmarsson started less in the offensive zone than any of the Blackhawks' defensemen last year. Oduya started 48.6 percent in the offensive zone and Hjalmarsson was at 48.3 percent. To compare, Keith started 56.4 percent in the offensive zone and Seabrook was at 56.3, and defensemen Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank all started more than 60 percent of the time in the offensive zone.

    Goals against


    The Blackhawks held opponents to just 1.77 goals per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations during the 2013 season, best in the league. But aside from that season the Blackhawks have been an average defense team in recent years. They ranked 26th in the NHL with a 2.52 goals-against average in 2010-11 season, 26th with a 2.49 goals-against average in the 2011-12 season and were 15th with a 2.23 goals-against average last season.

    Toews & Sharp

    Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp made each other better players last season. They had a 59.7 Corsi percentage in their 777.32 of ice time together. When apart, Toews dropped to a 57.5 Corsi percentage and Sharp dropped to 52.9. There's a good chance Sharp, Toews and Marian Hossa could be together on the top line again this season.

    Fourth-line usage

    Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, the trio which was often the Blackhawks' fourth line last season, all ranked among the bottom seven players in the league in offensive zone start percentage. Bollig started in the offensive zone 11.4 percent, Kruger 13.4 percent and Smith 16.9. It will be interesting to see whether Quenneville uses his fourth line in such a defensive manner again. Kruger was on the fourth line the season before and saw more offensive zone starts. He was at 30.4 percent during the 2013 season.

    Patrick Kane never worried about contract

    September, 8, 2014
    Sep 8
    6:26
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    NEW YORK -- Patrick Kane admitted he's glad that both he and captain Jonathan Toews signed matching long-term extensions with the Chicago Blackhawks this summer, but said he was never too concerned that the deals would get done.

    Kane, who will make an average of $10.5 million annually once the deal begins in 2015, said it was an interesting process to go through with his good friend and teammate; the two also share an agent, Pat Brisson.

    "I don't think it was something I was ever worried about, to be honest with you," Kane told ESPN.com at the NHL media tour Monday in Manhattan. "Last year when the media started asking me about the contract situation, I thought it was kind of funny since there were two years left on our previous deals. We're in a good position now ... it's a great term, a great place to be, a great city and a great organization. We definitely feel fortunate with what we got."

    Now that the two players are signed through 2022-23, they can turn their focus back on the upcoming season. The Blackhawks were just one goal shy of making it to the Stanley Cup finals last season, losing in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

    As much as that stung, Kane said he still watched the Stanley Cup finals, but that it was hard to wrap his head around watching someone else win the Cup after he and his teammates were so close to being there themselves.

    "It's obviously disappointing and surreal when you see someone else win the Stanley Cup," Kane said. "It's like it's not real and you're going through a dream. But I guess it's inevitable. It's gonna happen, right?"

    Roenick sees big things for Kane, Toews

    August, 19, 2014
    Aug 19
    11:23
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    Former Chicago Blackhawks star Jeremy Roenick remembers what it felt like to sign his first long-term deal. The pressure melted away, the sense of anxiety about contract negotiations dissipated and Roenick was allowed to channel all his energy onto the ice.

    He suspects current Hawks superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who inked matching eight-year, $84 million deals this summer, will experience the same.

    If that’s the case, watch out.

    [+] EnlargeJeremy Roenick
    J.D. Cuban/Getty ImagesFormer Chicago star Jeremy Roenick thinks the team's current dynamic duo is set up for success.
    "When I signed my contract, the pressure that was released off of me was immense," Roenick told ESPN.com, detailing his thought process after the ordeal. "'Now I can play for my team. They took care of me, now I can take care of them.' It’s going to be really fun to watch [Kane and Toews] flourish and play with a free mind and confidence."

    Getting the two players under contract until 2023 was a huge coup for a team that has won two Stanley Cup championships in the past five seasons and is among the select few for which the D-word -- dynasty -- can be thrown around in the salary-cap era.

    "I think it was very important," said Roenick, who now works as an NHL analyst for NBC Sports. "Two quality players like that, most teams do not possess that luxury. Pittsburgh has [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, and Anaheim has [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, but [most teams] don’t really have those elite star players that can change the course of the game like they have."

    Having those players to build around for years to come -- Kane and Toews are 25 and 26, respectively -- will ensure that Chicago is a perennial contender. In fact, Roenick sees no reason that Chicago won’t be the favorite once the preseason projections roll in for 2014-15.

    "I think they’re one of the strongest-built teams in the league," said Roenick, who played eight seasons for the Blackhawks and scored 513 goals in his 21-year NHL career. "With them, they have amazing star power surrounded with good quality core players. The addition of Brad Richards coming over there as a role player who can help on the power play and be a good leader brings another experienced guy into a locker room of winners."

    "I think the team has done a very good job of putting together the pieces, and with Kane and Toews signing these megadeals, they’ll be playing with so much confidence. There’s no competition between the two. They are both top-five players getting paid like it, and it shows the loyalty that the Blackhawks have become known for and [for] building championships."

    That said, the Blackhawks will likely be forced to make some sort of trade to move salary out, given the cap constraints facing the club. According to Capgeek.com, the Hawks are $2.26 million over the cap for next year with 23 roster players.

    That won’t be the only challenge facing the team, which will square off against stiff competition in what promises to be a stacked Central Division.

    Last year’s race was a tight one, and Roenick expects that to be the case this season as well, with one team in particular with something to prove.

    He still thinks the Blackhawks are the team to beat but anticipates it being a dogfight.

    "I think the St. Louis Blues are gonna come out extremely angry and embarrassed about bowing out early," Roenick said about the Blues’ first-round exit last spring after losing a six-game series to the Hawks.

    "I know how Hitch [Blues coach Ken Hitchcock] is, and those two teams are gonna be battling tooth and nail again. I don’t see anyone else really challenging either of those teams.”

    Kane wins title, MVP in hometown league

    August, 14, 2014
    Aug 14
    2:14
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    Patrick Kane has a knack for scoring clutch playoff goals regardless of the jersey he's wearing.

    The Chicago Blackhawks star and Buffalo native led Milli Vanilli to the Fattey Hockey League title by scoring five of his team's 10 goals in back-to-back wins in a best-of-three series in his hometown earlier this week. He was named the championship MVP.

    "It's basically the best Buffalo players," Nik Fattey, the league's founder and a Buffalo Sabres scout, explained of the league in a phone interview on Thursday. "It's not like a bar league. It's a competitive league. It's kind of like a Rucker Park sort of thing, NBA summer league."



    Fattey said the 25-year-old Kane, a three-time All-Star who just signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with the Blackhawks this summer, has been playing in the league for the past five years.

    "I think he loves hockey is what it comes down to," Fattey said. "It's where he was born and stuff. No different than a guy who returns to Toronto or Montreal to train and play. Again, lots of guys do play. It's a pretty high level.

    "The game's changing. Guys used to take the summer off. They want to keep active now. Guys didn't skate in the past, now they do. It's been really good for the skating. It's games. It's not practicing. Where else can you get a skate and not just glide along? Plus, guys love scoring goals. I don't care where it is."

    Kane, of course, does love to score goals. Fattey said the two-time Stanley Cup champion and 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner treated fans to a special one in the league's semifinals.

    "In the semifinals, he scored just an unbelievable goal," Fattey said. "He came up on the wing and threw up a backhander and it got under the bar. Everyone got their oohs and aahs in."

    Kane talked recently about what motivates him to play when he returns to Buffalo.

    "When I go back home, it's exciting for me and my buddies to play hockey," Kane said Aug. 4 in Crestwood, Illinois. "It's something we do for fun. By no means if we're playing a game like that, do you think it's going to get out to the media or you think it's going to be a big story or anything like that. You're just going to have fun. That's exactly what we were doing.

    "I love the game. I love playing it whether it's in the NHL or in a little men's league during the summer. It's obviously not all the same, but it's still the game of hockey. You can enjoy that way."

    Four Blackhawks highly rated in NHL 15

    August, 8, 2014
    Aug 8
    5:30
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    EA Sports released its top five players at each position throughout this past week for its upcoming NHL 15 release, and the Chicago Blackhawks' talent was again respected by the game’s makers.

    Jonathan Toews tied with Pavel Datsyuk and Steven Stamkos for the second-highest-ranked center. All three players received a 93 overall rating and were just behind Sidney Crosby and his 96 rating.

    EA Sports wrote of Toews, “Although the nickname Captain Serious holds up for Jonathan Toews, Mr. Everything is a better descriptor of what he actually brings to the ice every night. Whether it’s (95) rated Faceoffs, (93) Puck Control, or (89) Speed, Acceleration, and Agility – he really does do it all.”

    Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both landed in the game’s top-5 ratings for right wingers. Hossa was second with a 91 overall rating, and Kane was fourth with an 89 overall rating.

    “Hossa might not have the same star power as the other players on this list, but make no mistake, he is arguably the best all-round right winger in the game,” EA Sports’ description included. “With five-star ratings in Puck Skills, Senses, Skating, and Defense – Hossa does it all.”

    Kane’s offensive game was also shown some love.

    “Kane possesses one of the highest skill sets in the entire league with five star Puck Skills, Shooting, Skating, and Senses,” the description included. “His Puck Skills are elite with (94) Passing and Puck Control, (95) Hand-Eye, and (96) Deking. The only thing lacking in his game is Physical ability – coming in at only two and a half stars.”

    Duncan Keith finished second with a 92 overall rating behind Shea Weber's 93 rating among the game’s defenseman ratings.

    “Last year’s Norris Trophy winner lacks that huge physical element to his game, but makes up for it with 5 star Puck Skills, Senses, Skating and Defense attributes,” the game’s description included.

    The Blackhawks had six players in the game’s top-50 ratings last year, with Toews (92 rating) at No. 7, Keith (90) at No. 12, Hossa (89) at No. 24, Brent Seabrook (89) at No. 31, Kane (88) at No. 35 and Patrick Sharp (88) at No. 45.

    NHL 15 will be released on Sept. 9.

    Love of game still drives Hawks' Kane

    August, 4, 2014
    Aug 4
    4:36
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    Patrick KaneScott Powers, ESPNChicago.com Patrick Kane unveiled a renovated locker room to kids at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Ill.
    CRESTWOOD, Ill. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is already an NHL veteran after seven seasons and he will soon enter his late 20s, but being around hockey still has a way of making him feel like a kid.

    Kane especially felt that way Monday as he, along with Gatorade, unveiled a renovated locker room at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Ill. to 13- and 14-year-old players on the St. Jude Knights.

    “I think the main thing for me is to come back and see the kids’ faces and see how excited they are,” Kane said. “Just walking in here and seeing them excited. It’s a special day for me just to come back and try to give back any way I can to the kids. St. Jude has a lot of hockey history and a lot of respect.

    ”[I remember from my childhood] it's just kind of surreal when you do meet a pro athlete that it’s actually happening. You look up to them like your role models and idols and probably something more than you probably should. It’s still exciting nonetheless, especially for young kids. Probably hits the heart most for me working with young kids whether they play hockey or not. It’s just exciting to see their faces and see their reaction when someone like yourself comes by and tries to give them any input or intake on how to help with anything. It’s special for me."

    (Read full post)

    Q feels fortunate Kane, Toews re-signed

    July, 16, 2014
    Jul 16
    10:32
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    Count Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville among those ecstatic to have Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews re-signed to long-term contract extensions.

    Toews
    Kane
    "It's great news for the organization, good news for the coaching staff, great news for the players and the fans and the team going forward," Quenneville said on "The Coach Q Show" on WGN-720 AM on Wednesday morning. "I think it's a great deal for everyone, and we're happy to have them.

    "It benefits everybody. It says a lot about what kind of guys these guys are ... I guess the way they've gelled in the community and been a part of Chicago sports history in a short amount of time is special. I think everybody should take part of that responsibility. Hey, they're a part of it here.

    "Certainly we're very happy Jonny and Kaner chose to stay here long term and be Blackhawks forever, which is unique in today's league, today's game, so we're very fortunate. We see a lot of good things go forward with these two guys."

    The Blackhawks announced last week Kane and Toews each signed eight-year contract extensions which will run through the 2022-23 season. Each contract is for $84 million with an average annual salary of $10.5 million, according to a source. They previously agreed to a five-year, $31.5 million extension which will end after next season.

    Quenneville has coached Kane and Toews for six of their seven seasons. Together, they have made six consecutive playoff appearances, been to four Western Conference finals and won two Stanley Cups.

    Quenneville believes Kane and Toews have put themselves in a unique situation throughout their careers.

    "I don't think I've seen a tandem like this almost like basically every step of the way been at the same level, the same impact on the team, the community, basically hand in hand being at the same place," Quenneville said. "Usually there's maybe a differential how people view their contributions. But it's amazing how the parallels of the two guys have been incredibly similar right down to their existence here going forward. Two of the greatest players in the game, and they're going to be moving together, very unique in today's world."

    As good as Kane and Toews are on the same team, Quenneville still believes the Blackhawks are most dangerous when they're not on the ice together.

    "As a coach, you've got two great players," Quenneville said. "You know you have a lot of offense coming in a lot of different areas. I still think they like playing with one another. As a coach, it's almost like we like you playing together, but spread out it makes us a much better team and it's nice to have lot of options as you go throughout the year and as you go into the playoffs."

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    TEAM LEADERS

    POINTS
    Patrick Sharp
    PTS GOALS AST +/-
    6 2 4 0
    OTHER LEADERS
    GoalsP. Kane 3
    AssistsP. Sharp 4
    +/-J. Oduya 5
    GAAC. Crawford 1.66