Blackhawks trim roster to 46 players

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
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The Chicago Blackhawks assigned goaltenders Mac Carruth and Kent Simpson to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and released forward Ryan Schnell and defensemen Kirill Gotovets, Justin Holl and Zach Miskovic from training camp on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks are down to 46 training camp roster players, which includes 26 forwards, 16 defensemen and four goaltenders.

Schnell, Gotovets, Holl and Miskovic are under AHL contracts and will also report to the IceHogs.

The Blackhawks begin their preseason schedule Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center.

Brad Richards makes United Center debut

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
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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.”

Quenneville mixes old, new approaches

September, 22, 2014
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville isn’t against advanced statistics in hockey, but what he sees on the ice still trumps what's shown to him on paper.

“There’s all kinds of it,” Quenneville said Monday of advanced statistics. “You can find different ways of measuring a game. I’m not criticizing it or supporting it either way. I just think a lot of guys are looking at it different ways where it’s shots, quality of the shot, frequency of shots, who gets exposed a little bit more or not.

“But there’s a lot of variables that go into knowing some guys take defensive-zone faceoffs and they never get any offensive zone on faceoffs. Their numbers are going to be down, so there’s always reasons why it looks like it’s better for other guys and not. That’s why I say you can look at it however you want to look at it. I like measuring the guys’ play by what we see.”

Advanced statistics have become more of a norm in the NHL. More organizations have been hiring staffers to deal specifically with hockey analytics.

[+] EnlargeJoel Quenneville
AP Photo/Alex Brandon"I think he has adapted as his career as a coach has gone on," Hawks GM Stan Bowman said of coach Joel Quenneville. "That serves our team well."
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is among those who believe advanced statistics are important. Chicago has been devoting personnel to that department in recent years.

Bowman has said in the past that the numbers and the eye test have to even out when it comes to making decisions.

“I think the balance is always between the old school and the new school,” Bowman said last season. “The old school want to just rely more on opinion and subjective means as opposed to objective means and the contrasting viewpoints that have risen over the last 5-10 years that look at statistics. I just think as long you view them together, you’re going to be fine.

“If you rely exclusively on statistics, I think that’s foolish. But I do think there's value and there is a benefit to learning and looking at advanced measures to give a different side of what’s really happening. I think it’s human nature to see something and maybe be biased about what you think you saw. When you really look at the numbers, you realize it was a little different. Reality is this guy was really doing it. I think that’s where the benefit comes in. You have to be open to it and not be against it.”

Bowman thought Quenneville was among those willing to look at both sides.

“I think Joel is open to that stuff,” Bowman said. “He’s actually a good mixture of the old school and new way. I think Joel is certainly not afraid to try new things.

“I think he has adapted as his career as a coach has gone on. That serves our team well. When we had a really young group 4-5 years ago, he handled them differently to now that they had gotten older and grown up. He doesn’t believe there’s just one way of doing things. That’s an example of someone who can adapt. It’s been a good fit in terms of him. When we bring [advanced statistics] to him, he realizes the values in them. I think it can help if you keep it in the proper perspective.”

Quenneville said there were some statistics he specifically looks at when it comes to his team.

“I think we all have ways of how we analyze games and how we look at what he saw or how we’re viewing other games and other players,” Quenneville said. “There’s always different ways to measure statistics and how you look at stats. When we like to watch the game, scoring chances are probably the one thing we work off the most as a staff.

“The quality and quantity, sometimes you work off that. We like to educate our team more so the situations -- how you can create offensively and what’s good and bad, and go from there. I think everybody has a different way on how you look at it and what’s good and what’s negative about it. I think that’s the one stat we probably get off more than most.”

Kane stars in training camp, commercials

September, 21, 2014
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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
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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.”

  • (Read full post)

    Teravainen out with upper-body injury

    September, 21, 2014
    Sep 21
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Teuvo Teravainen sat out a practice and scrimmage Sunday due to an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day, according to a team spokesperson.

    Teravainen, who is considered the Blackhawks’ top prospect, is one of a few players competing for a NHL roster spot out of the team’s training camp. He scored two goals in scrimmages on Saturday.

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Teravainen could play in the Blackhawks' training camp festival scrimmage at the United Center on Monday.

    "We'll see how he is tomorrow," Quenneville said.

    Teravainen spoke after Saturday’s scrimmages and did not mention an injury. He did take a big hit from defenseman Cam Barker and was knocked to the ice on Saturday, but Teravainen did not miss a shift.

    The Blackhawks will begin their preseason schedule on Tuesday.

    Hawks training camp notes

    September, 20, 2014
    Sep 20
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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.”

    Blackhawks' Teuvo Teravainen disappointed in play despite two goals

    September, 20, 2014
    Sep 20
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Teuvo Teravainen isn't just about production.

    Teravainen tallied two goals, the most by any Chicago Blackhawks player, during Saturday’s training camp scrimmages, but the center wasn’t exactly pleased with his day’s performance. Knowing he’s under a microscope with an NHL roster spot on the line, Teravainen is aiming to put together a quality all-around game on a daily basis. He didn’t feel he had that Saturday.

    “I don’t know,” the 20-year-old Teravainen said. “Not that good. Tough days here. I felt my legs weren’t there. Everybody’s of course tired right now.”

    Teravainen’s sluggishness was apparent at times. He and his linemates had sequences during which they were unable to get the opposition out of their defensive zone for a minute-plus. Teravainen was slow to the puck during some shifts.

    Despite that, Teravainen did score those two goals and entertained a packed house at Notre Dame. On the first tally, he got behind the opposing defensemen, received a pass from Mark McNeill, faked as if he was going right with the puck, went left and scored. On the second, he one-timed a pass from Kris Versteeg to score from the right circle.

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was neither pleased nor displeased with Teravainen, saying Saturday's effort was satisfactory. Teravainen’s opportunity to make an NHL case for himself will likely come in the Blackhawks’ upcoming preseason games.

    “We still got six exhibition games, a couple games, the game on Monday and a couple tomorrow,” Quenneville said. “We hope it’s tough, but at the same time we’ll find out at that time. A lot of times, see how he keeps playing. He’s been fine today.”

    Teravainen is aware of what’s at stake.

    “I’m trying to do my best, of course,” Teravainen said. “I know a lot of guys are watching me out there, what I’m doing there. I’m just trying to play good there.

    “Of course, the roster is really good, so many good players are here. It’s hard to make the team, of course. I need to earn my spot here. But if I make the team and can play there, I know I can play with really good guys. It helps my game.”

    Leddy, Oduya focusing on camp, not rumors

    September, 20, 2014
    Sep 20
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Chicago Blackhawks' players are as aware as anyone the team must still get under the salary cap before the season begins.

    Blackhawks defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya have been associated with trade rumors throughout the offseason and into training camp. Both players acknowledged the rumors the last few days.

    “It’s a tough question,” Oduya said on Friday. “I know it’s there. I think everybody does. I try not to worry about it too much. It’s out of my hands, really. For me, I want to focus on being here and performing and working hard. That’s what I have on my mind.”

    Leddy had a similar answer Saturday.

    “I think it’s always in the back of your mind, but I think for me I just have to focus on my play, making the team better and getting better every game,” Leddy said. “I’m focused on camp right now. It’s been a great camp so far and exciting as always, the start of a new season. Just looking forward to helping the team out.”

    Leddy’s and Oduya’s agents both dismissed trade rumors during the offseason as well.

    “No such discussions,” Oduya’s agent Don Meehan wrote in an email in July. “They like him very much.”

    Leddy’s agent Neil Sheehy also thought the Blackhawks weren’t interested in trading his client.

    "I expect Nick to stay with the Blackhawks," Sheehy said during a recent phone interview. "[Blackhawks general manager] Stan Bowman said he's not looking to trade Nick. I think the big thing is he's the youngest defenseman on the team at 23 years of age, and he has four years of NHL experience. He's part of the future of the team.”

    Both players are set to become free agents after next season. Oduya, who has a cap hit of $3.375 this season, will become an unrestricted free agent. Leddy, who has a cap hit of $2.7 million this season, is set to become a restricted free agent.

    Bowman said Thursday he wasn’t worried about getting the Blackhawks under the $69 salary cap before the season begins. The Blackhawks need to reduce at least $1.3 million of cap payroll to be compliant. They would need to find more cap space to include players like Teuvo Teravainen, their top prospect, to their NHL roster.

    “I think leading into training camp most guys want to get going,” Bowman said on Thursday. “Like I said, everyone sort of has a plan that they like how things go. Then a week from now, your plan might have to be changed because players you expected to do something [don’t do something].

    “A lot of teams have some high hopes for some of the young players and then you get them in games and you realize, well, they’re a young player, they’re not going to be able to do what I thought they might. It’s a bit of a waiting game at this point. We’ve had a lot of discussions over the last weeks or months, but until guys get on the ice not a lot changes from July until now. I think we’ll see that play itself out over the next couple weeks here.”

    If the Blackhawks don’t get under the salary cap before the season begins, they are open to a number of penalties under the league’s CBA. The NHL can impose fines, take away draft picks and force the Blackhawks to forfeit games.

    Barker hopes to make Chicago home again

    September, 20, 2014
    Sep 20
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The history between defenseman Cam Barker and the Chicago Blackhawks enabled both sides to feel comfortable to reunite again for training camp.

    Barker, a first-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2004, was searching for another NHL opportunity after playing last season overseas, and attempting to do so with the Blackhawks made sense for him because of his familiarity with the organization. For the Blackhawks, they’re always looking for more defenseman depth, and they have an idea of what Barker is capable of when on his game.

    Barker may not ultimately find a place in the Blackhawks’ organization, but he and the Blackhawks will be satisfied they took a look at each other.

    “I think we’ve talked traditionally that you can never have too many defensemen,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “I think Cam played his best hockey with Chicago, and he’s trying to get his career back going. I know he’s trained really hard over the summer. He just wants a chance to see where he’s at. You know we want to try to keep our numbers relatively small, so we didn’t have a lot of invites. But I think it made sense in that perspective to have a look at him to see if he’s a player who would figure into a depth role or not.”

    Barker played 200 games with the Blackhawks over five seasons and was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy in February of 2010. Barker and Leddy have been on the same training camp team and played together at times during scrimmages on Friday and Saturday.

    Barker’s career went off track after leaving the Blackhawks. He played in just 94 NHL games over the next three seasons. He last appeared in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in the 2012-13 season. He spent last season playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.

    Barker, 28, still believes he can play in the NHL, and the Blackhawks provided him a chance to join their training camp on a free-agent tryout. Barker described it as a weird feeling to be back with the Blackhawks, but it was where he wanted to be.

    “I had a couple of my best seasons with the Hawks,” Barker said on Saturday. “I struggled after that. I had some injuries. Obviously wished things went different, but I’m back now and worked extremely hard to get back. I feel good about where I’m at now in my game. I’m just looking to the future.

    “I wanted to come back. I worked extremely hard this summer. Could have went back [to the KHL] in early July, but my heart was here, my mind was here. I know I can still play. This is where I want to be. I figured I’d give it my best shot and here I am.”

    Barker caught everyone’s attention Saturday when he leveled Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks' 2012 first-round pick, with a massive hit and sent Teravainen crashing to the ice. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t sure what Barker’s fate would be after camp, but Barker’s hit was noticed.

    “Well, we’ll have to see,” Quenneville said of Barker. “You got some history on the player. You bring that into consideration. And then the audition however long it is, you see how he’s progressed or how bad he wants the job or the opportunity. You balance that out. I like the fact how he stepped up and had a real big hit today. Every day you’re looking to see signs that show that all costs he wants to get back here.”

    Barker understood that.

    “Hopefully, I’m here to carve [a role] out,” Barker said. “I got to show what I got, work hard every day and just do my best.”

    Hossa feeling good entering camp

    September, 19, 2014
    Sep 19
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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- What Marian Hossa was going to be able to give the Chicago Blackhawks was in question at this time last year.

    Hossa’s back, which he injured during the Stanley Cup finals, was bothering him during the Blackhawks’ training camp at Notre Dame in September 2013, and the forward was shut down for the team’s preseason games.

    A year later, Hossa and the Blackhawks are feeling much more optimistic about his health and what the 35-year-old can provide for the season ahead. Hossa eliminated much of that worry by playing nearly a full 2013-14 season without a recurrence of the back problems.

    [+] EnlargeMarian Hossa
    Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsMarian Hossa might have set scoring targets in younger years, but now "there's only one goal and the goal is to win the Stanley Cup."
    “Last year was a great example,” Hossa said Friday after participating in a practice and scrimmage on the first day of training camp. “I only missed a few games, a few of them wasn’t because of my injury. I’m glad. If I can repeat it again this year I would be really pleased.

    “Last year in the beginning of training camp I felt [my back] wasn’t still good. I had an extra shot in my back at the beginning of last training camp so I missed a few days because of that. So far it’s been good, no complaints. Hopefully, it’s going to stay that way.”

    Hossa was moving around just fine during the camp’s opening scrimmage. He, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp were reunited on a line and quickly found their comfort zone again. Sharp set up Hossa in transition for the first goal of the scrimmage, and Toews later hit Hossa in the deep slot and Hossa put home another goal.

    Hossa, who will turn 36 in January, arrived at camp fit. He didn’t participate in all of the fitness testing for fear of injury, but he said his body fat was around 8 percent, which was lower than year ago.

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has yet to see age become a detriment to Hossa’s game.

    “I think one thing about Hoss ... some people might ask you, ‘How old’s Hoss?’ or ‘How’s he doing year in, year out? How’s he keep doing it?’,” Quenneville said. “But he hasn’t given us one indication at all that he’s slowing down and he just keeps that consistency of playing at a high level year in, year out and that predictability of shift in, shift out of Hoss playing the right way. We’re fortunate to have [that] type of luxury in a top-end player, and I thought he had an excellent day today as well.”

    Hossa said he hasn’t set any specific goals for this season. He was pleased with his play last season, when he was among the team’s best offensive and defensive players. He finished with 60 points, which was his second-highest point total since joining the Blackhawks in 2009, and received votes for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the league’s best defensive forward.

    “When I was younger, maybe I did set up these goals, but there’s only one goal and the goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” Hossa said. “If I can contribute by goals or by playing a two-way game or anywhere else, I’ll be happy to.

    “Obviously, when you look at it every year, it starts with training camp. You go, ‘Wow, it’s going to be a long year.’ But you try to think positive and try to enjoy what you do. We have a great group of people working around us. It’s fun to be here and I’m glad I’m part of it.”
    video

    Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad was pleased with how he played with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane on the first day of training camp.

    Saad, Richards, Kane jell from the start

    September, 19, 2014
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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 storylines (No. 1): Quest for Cup

    September, 19, 2014
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    Chicago BlackhawksJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesChampionship banners are the measure of success for a Blackhawks season these days.
    ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down to Friday's opening of the Chicago Blackhawks' training camp with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

    The Stanley Cup is where the Chicago Blackhawks measure their seasons these days.

    They're successful if they win it. Anything else is a disappointment.

    The Blackhawks were disappointed last season. While they exceeded their third-place regular-season finish in the Central, knocked off the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in the first two rounds and were a goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals again, the 2013-14 season will be remembered by the Blackhawks as a missed opportunity to repeat as champions.

    "There's so many things that go through your mind," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after last season. "The what ifs and little things that could've gone differently, how confident we would be as a team if we were getting ready to play a game tomorrow about our chances to win another Stanley Cup. We were this close. We've been there before.

    "Some other guys have said it, I've said it too, that when you win a Stanley Cup you get that feeling, that taste for what it's like and then you really realize what you're missing and how special it is, not only what it's like to parade around the city of Chicago with the Stanley Cup but just the feeling of being in that room and celebrating a great job with the guys you've been working so hard with for a long, long time. This is pretty much the opposite of that, and I guess maybe you learn something from that too and maybe it makes you even hungrier."

    The Blackhawks will need more than hunger to get through the Central, unseat the defending champion Los Angeles Kings and capture another Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks will rely on many of the same faces again, but there will be some tweaks this season.

    Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed one of the biggest issues last season and signed veteran Brad Richards to center the second line and add depth down the middle. With Toews, Richards, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Peter Regin and possibly Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks have more options at center than they did a season ago. That was an area where the Kings outplayed them in the Western Conference finals.

    "I think you can never have enough centermen," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said in July. "I think your depth at the blue line, your depth at the middle always impacts and exposes over the course of a season and challenges you. I'll been comfortable having guys that have versatility in playing wing and center.

    "And having that ability and that depth over a course of a season, you look at L.A.'s four centermen with experience and proveness [sic] down the middle, strength at the faceoff circle, that's probably the elite four-man center package you're going to find throughout the league. I really like the centermen we have and the ability to play in different roles and in different situations and comfortable with both sides of the offense and defensive responsibilities."

    A top line of Patrick Sharp, Toews and Marian Hossa followed by a line of Brandon Saad, Richards and Patrick Kane gives the Blackhawks two elite lines again. The Blackhawks are hopeful Bryan Bickell can translate his playoff success to the regular season and provide them a top-6 forward on the third line.

    Bowman and Quenneville have commented they're going to give Jeremy Morin a larger role this season. Morin's offensive numbers were among the team's best when he got a chance to play last season. The Blackhawks are also optimistic Kris Versteeg returns this season as the player they hoped he would be when they acquired last season. They also return key role players Shaw, Kruger and Ben Smith.

    Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy lead an experienced defenseman group. In net, Corey Crawford returns and will seek to be more consistent, but he proved again in the playoffs last season he can carry the team if needed. His six-year, $36 million contract goes into effect this season.

    All in all, the Blackhawks like their chances of making another Cup run.

    "It's always exciting to be part of a group that has a chance to win a Cup," Keith said on Thursday. "You look around the league and there's so many good teams, especially in our conference, in our division. But you look around the room and you look at your teammates, and it's definitely an exciting feeling knowing the opportunity that is there.

    "You've been in situations before, like at the start of my career when there wasn't much talk of Stanley Cups, it was more of just try to get to the playoffs and go from there. But we have high expectations, and I think everybody on the team enjoys that challenge and having that type of expectation."

    Hawks storylines (No. 2): Crawford in net

    September, 19, 2014
    Sep 19
    9:00
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down to Friday's opening of the Chicago Blackhawks' training camp with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

    Corey Crawford was one of the primary reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks reached the Western Conference finals last season.

    He was extraordinary in net through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Without his 34-save shutout against the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their first-round series, the Blackhawks likely don’t advance to the second round. All told, Crawford stopped 351 of 377 shots for a .931 save percentage in the first two rounds.

    The seven games of the Western Conference finals weren’t as kind to Crawford. He allowed 26 goals and had a .878 save percentage against the Los Angeles Kings in the series.

    Crawford wasn’t to blame for all of the goals, but he took responsibility for the end result. If the Blackhawks are going to make another Stanley Cup run, they need him to be better.

    “It wasn't good enough,” the 29-year-old Crawford said after last season of his own play. "We lost. It was too many goals. Take away the Game 2, that was a blowout in the third period. That couldn't happen, but it did. They seemed to get a lot of traffic in front of the net. I felt pretty much all year I was pretty strong battling through traffic and finding pucks, and that was probably the worst part of my game in that series.”

    After an up-and-down 2013-14, Crawford will be aiming for more consistency this season. He struggled early in the season and had .907 save percentage through his first 27 games. He went down with an injury in December and was a different player when he returned in January, posting a .926 save percent over the final regular-season 32 games. He finished with a .917 save percentage, which put him 15th in the league among goalies with at least 40 games.

    Crawford is expected to shoulder a heavy starting load again this season. It would be beneficial both to him and the Blackhawks if Antti Raanta became more comfortable in the backup role. Raanta’s struggles as the No. 2 goalie late last season didn’t allow Crawford much rest -- a change from the previous season, in which the balance between Ray Emery and Crawford was key to Chicago's regular-season success.

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