Training camp is over, lasting only a couple of weeks, but in that time we learned a lot. And with so many new faces, so did Blackhawks brass. Here are 5 things we (and they) learned from the preseason.
Not So Short Summer: Duncan Keith claimed there wasn't enough time to get out of shape. He might just be right. Despite the summer long Stanley Cup party and the relatively short time off the ice, the returning Hawks from last year's squad showed no ill effects from any of it.
The key might be their youth. They simply recover quicker and stay in shape longer. But that doesn't explain Marian Hossa. A 12-year veteran, having played in three straight finals, he looks better than ever. The man is a freak. From Day 1 in camp he showed his typical explosion on the ice, and though he didn't play in any road games, he looks more ready than ever. He's primed for a big start to the season. The hangover for this team may never happen. Again, thank the youth.
Youth Is Served (Some More): Even before a couple of injuries opened the door more for them, Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin were making their marks in camp. Both play older than their young age (19), and both could make a significant impact on the team, though the news on Monday that Morin was sent to the minors was a bit shocking.
He could be a salary cap casualty as both Leddy and Morin have $1 million -- or over -- cap hits with their bonuses, plus the Hawks are stacked at right wing. Morin didn't look as comfortable playing on the left side.
Talking with their new teammates, there is a poise to their game that every player, at any age, is looking for. Yes, there will be some rookie moments, but that poise will come in handy in crunch time. Especially for a defenseman like Leddy, who might get caught on an island every so often. Camp proved Stan Bowman right: the cupboard is filling back up. Igor Makarov is a winger with plenty of potential, and while Kyle Beach didn't make the team, he's trending in the right direction. Having said that, the rest of the defensive prospects were underwhelming as were the goalies. Its two areas of concern in terms of depth.
Joel Quenneville waited until the final two preseason games to give us a glimpse of how he will start the season. If you're wondering who plays the other wing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, keep wondering. Unless Quenneville changes his mind between now and Thursday, they aren't playing together.
Here's how the lines could shape up, now that Morin was sent down.
Tomas Kopecky/Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa
It's hard to know who is on the first and second line, or on the hird and fourth. That's probably how Quenneville likes it. Interchangeable.
Goalie Turnover: The Hawks' new goaltending tandem was adequate in the preseason. It's hard to judge a veteran like Marty Turco. He had some decent moments but he admittedly isn't quite there yet. He claims he will be by Thursday. The good and the bad of a puck handling goalie were on display in the preseason. His home run passes set up some scoring opportunities and led to a goal or two, but several turnovers turned his prowess against him, most notably Sunday night against the Blues. Corey Crawford did nothing to make you think he can't handle the back-up role. Expect a 55/25 or 60/20 split if all goes according to plan.
Hunger: It's only a few weeks but no one on this team seems satisfied with the accomplishments of last year. The new guys want a chance at feeling it for themselves -- they've seen the rock-star attention the returnees are getting -- and the veterans are all so young, hungry and professional, it just doesn't seem like an issue. Many worried about Patrick Kane and his success hangover, but all he has done in camp is talk about “doing it all again.” The key players to push the rest, though, are Toews and Duncan Keith. They only know one way: hard work and winning. Satisfaction won't be an issue.