The lockout is complete. Now the Chicago Blackhawks can get down to business.
The Memo of Understanding was finished late Saturday night, and the Blackhawks will begin training camp at noon Sunday at Johnnys Ice House West. It will be quick preparations for the Blackhawks -- along with every other team in the NHL -- as they begin their regular season on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles against the Stanley Cup champion Kings.
Team owner Rocky Wirtz and president John McDonough sent a letter to Blackhawks season ticket holders (the letter is also posted on the teams website):
On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks, we would like to thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past few months. It is imperative that we now look forward in order to prepare and to focus on the exciting season ahead.
We are committed to a mission of consistent excellence, both on and off the ice. This high standard fuels our passion to reward your allegiance to our franchise.
We are looking forward to experiencing the electric atmosphere and energy that you bring to the United Center for every game.
Now, about camp: the Blackhawks will begin their abbreviated camp on Sunday. And unfortunately, due to the lockout and the resulting brief schedule, the Blackhawks will not be having their training camp festival this year. Tickets for the festival purchased through the internet and phone will be automatically refunded. Refunds for all other tickets are available at the point of purchase; or people can send tickets to the Blackhawks at 1901 W. Madison St., 60612.
The training camp festival will be back in the 2013-14 season.
The Blackhawks' coaching staff will be intact for the 2016-17 season.
Two weeks after Patrick Roy abruptly resigned as head coach, the Colorado Avalanche officially picked Jared Bednar to be his replacement over Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen, who was among the favorites for the coaching vacancy.
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Bednar has no National Hockey League coaching experience, but did guide the Columbus Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate to a 15-2 postseason record last season en route to the franchise's first Calder Cup championship.
Retaining Dineen is good news for the Blackhawks, who start training camp next month, but it goes without saying that Dineen is certainly deserving of a second crack at a head coaching position in the near future.
Dineen, Mike Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville will enter their third season together after helping the Blackhawks capture a Stanley Cup in their first year as a group in 2015.
Jonathan Toews was named alternate captain of Team Canada on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
Sidney Crosby was named Team Canada’s captain. Crosby, who claimed his second Stanley Cup in June, was also Team Canada’s captain en route to the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
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Toews, who has been the Blackhawks’ captain since the 2008-09 season, was also alternate captain of Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens will serve as Team Canada’s other alternate captain.
Duncan Keith will not be part of the Blackhawks’ World Cup of Hockey contingent after all.
Keith will focus on improving his health rather than play for Team Canada in the tournament, which takes place next month in Toronto. The Blackhawks released a statement regarding Keith on Wednesday afternoon.
"As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in the statement. "We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury."
Keith had surgery on that knee last October and was sidelined about one month.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will take Keith’s place.