Thursday, October 14, 2010
Updated: October 16, 3:05 PM ET
Marty Turco is Hawks' top goalie
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville quashed any talk of a potential goaltending controversy Thursday when he said Marty Turco is his No. 1 goalie.
When Quenneville started Corey Crawford in Wednesday's game against the Nashville Predators, it raised a few eyebrows. Crawford had just helped the Blackhawks earn their first win -- 4-3 at Buffalo on Monday, but it was widely thought Quenneville would go back to Turco against Nashville.
But Crawford started and suffered a 3-2 loss to the Predators.
Quenneville made it clear Thursday who is No. 1.
"Marty is fine," Quenneville said after practice. "Marty is No. 1."
That can always change, as was witnessed last year when Cristobal Huet gave way to Antti Niemi, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. But it's too early to consider this to be a trend.
"My plans are to play in every game and prepare to do so," Turco said. "That's kind of my job description as others might see it, and as certainly I do."
During the preseason, Turco hinted at wanting to play about 55 games and Quenneville didn't disagree with that assessment. He's on pace for 41.
"I'm going to prepare on and off the ice to be heavily relied on in all facets," Turco said. "Putting a number on it at the beginning of the year was just more rhetoric than anything. Who the hell knows what's going to happen. I know its cliché but it is just one game at a time."
It might be hard to find a date last year when Quenneville decided to go with the hot hand instead of a fixed goalie rotation, but it happened. No matter how it's labeled to the public, Turco is committed to the team.
"You take it personally," Turco said. "I'm in it for the wins. I'm in it to be on a winning team. It's not fun if the team is [bad], and you think you're fine. It doesn't work like that. I'm here to be on a winner, no matter what and to do my part, no matter what."
As for Corey Crawford, he's thrilled to be getting an early season look. He said he would have been very surprised, "with Turco here," if he had earned a third straight start. Turco will play Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets while Crawford could very well play Saturday against Buffalo. That would make three out of four for Crawford.
"I think me and Marty, we're trying to push each other to be better and push each other for playing time," Crawford said. "He's a really good goalie. I'm trying to make him at the top of his game.
"We have a pretty easy relationship. He's easy to get along with."
As with any coach, Quenneville is keeping any long-term plans close to his vest. Safe to say, the formula that worked last year could happen again. After all, the Hawks sat a goalie making about $5 million more than his back-up last season. In this case, the difference in their pay -- about $500,000 -- may not even warrant the loyalty Huet received. Again, that's not for the present.
"Our goaltending is fine," Quenneville said. "It's given us a chance to win."
So it's a situation to keep an eye on, just as it was last year. Even Turco agrees.
"We have a crazy, busy schedule," he said. "So we'll just totally get immersed in this and figure it out when the dust settles."
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.