Blackhawks switch up practice; Keith optimistic

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Blackhawks switch up practice; Keith optimistic

Duncan Keith returned to practice on Monday and is very optimistic hell play on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

It was a day full of changes for the Blackhawks, who switched up lines and defensive pairings while welcoming Keith back. Keith (left hand) participated for the first time since sustaining his injury against the Nashville Predators last Monday.

It felt good to be back out there with the guys and getting some drills in again, he said. Things are definitely better than I expected and I think its gotten a lot better for sure.

The Blackhawks practiced special teams after Sunday nights 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who scored five power-play goals. They also switched a few things up on Monday. Michael Frolik skated with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews on the top line, while Rostislav Olesz practiced with Dave Bolland and Andrew Brunette on the reconfigured checking line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said it was likely Olesz would play Tuesday, too. Daniel Carcillo was back with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg was on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Jamal Mayers.

Defensive pairings were also shuffled, with Keith and Brent Seabrook together again. Niklas Hjlamarsson and Nick Leddy were paired, as were Sami Lepisto and Sean ODonnell, and Steve Montador and John Scott.

Last nights game gets your attention in a lot of ways, Quenneville said. You dont mind making changes on a merit basis. Guys will get different opportunities and get a chance to enhance the opportunity going forward.

Corey Crawford will start against the Blues.

Kevin Dineen to stay on Blackhawks' staff as Avalanche hire Jared Bednar

Kevin Dineen to stay on Blackhawks' staff as Avalanche hire Jared Bednar

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 named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

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 won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Duncan Keith won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

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.