Tkachuk: Blackhawks will be fine

ST. LOUIS -- There isn't a player in Tuesday night's Blackhawks-Blues game who knows Chicago coach Joel Quenneville better than Keith Tkachuk.

The Blues' veteran power forward played nearly four seasons under Quenneville, who had served as St. Louis' coach for 7½ years (1996-2004). As the Blackhawks try to find answers for their late-season struggles, Tkachuk says you won't find a better coach to fix what's needed.

"He's a real gem there, they have," Tkachuk said after the Blues' morning practice Tuesday. "Joel is a heck of a coach. He's done wonders with that team. He taught me to play both ends of the ice. I know he's demanding the same there."

Tkachuk, Quenneville, and the Blues made the playoffs every year they were together. He recalls times when they struggled late in the season but kept it together off the ice.

"He's pretty good about letting the guys do their work in the dressing room," Tkachuk said. "He stays away, but when you are on the ice, in practice, you have to be sharp . . . He demands execution."

That statement implies the leaders in the room have to take care of some business during difficult times. But Tkachuk says that it can't just rely on the captain.

"I don't know [Jonathan Toews] well, but you can't ask too much from a 21-year-old captain," Tkachuk said. "You can't put it on one man's shoulders. They have some good veteran guys they need to rely on. They'll be fine."

As for the late season semi-swoon the Blackhawks are enduring, he believes it can be turned around quickly.

"It doesn't take a lot of games to get it back, but obviously you can't wait until the last game of the regular season and then go into the playoffs like that," Tkachuk said. "It's almost a good thing to happen to Chicago right now, with them having seven or eight games left.

"You know a team like that is going to bounce back. They're there for a reason. They have 99 points for a reason . . . I'm not worried about Chicago."

And he's not worried about the head coach, either.

"He's had great success in this league and I know why," Tkachuk said. "I've played for him."

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.