Blackhawks' youth exceeds expectations

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Blackhawks' youth exceeds expectations

Coach Joel Quenneville made it clear what he was looking for from his young players: good, simple hockey and energy. They brought that and more.

Marcus Kruger had a critical goal at the end of the first period, and Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig also had noticeable evenings in the Blackhawks 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Krugers goal with 29.5 seconds in the first helped alleviate an otherwise forgettable first period for the Blackhawks. It gave them momentum, and the Blackhawks carried it through the final two periods.

For Shaw, his first game back since Mondays recall from Rockford was stellar. He opened the Blackhawks scoring in the first period, tallying his sixth of the season, and brought energy to the checking line with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell.

I thought he was excellent, Quenneville said. He was effective in a lot of ways. He had jump, he took the puck to the net and checked well off the rush defensively. He had a real purpose to his game and brought us a lot of energy.

Bollig made his NHL debut on Wednesday, coming up to help the Blackhawks fill the physical void. A big guy with a penchant for fighting, Bollig didnt disappoint, holding his own with the Maple Leafs Luke Schenn.

He did a great job, Quenneville said. He had the fight at the end of his shift, he had purpose and he had a nice chance in the second period. We wanted him to play a north-south game, and he delivered it tonight.

Theyve had, and will continue to have, their growing pains. But the young guys gave the Blackhawks a boost a few times on Wednesday night, be it with their goals, their energy or their fists.

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

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USA TODAY

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, former AHL and NHL coach and father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 84.

Kevin Dineen was not at the Blackhawks’ practice on Saturday. Coach Joel Quenneville called Bill Dineen “a tremendous man.”

“Everyone who had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy. He was probably one of the most liked people you’d ever want to meet. Great family man; the kids are just like the dad,” Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice. “We had a good time with him on the dad’s trip last time. Seeing him at that stage and being around hockey again, it was fun to be there.”

Bill Dineen played for the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. He later was a head coach, mostly in the AHL. He was named the AHL’s outstanding coach twice and led the Adirondack Red Wings to the Calder Cup in 1986 and 1989. He also had an NHL coaching stint with the Philadelphia Flyers from 1992 to 1993, during which he coached Kevin.

AHL president David Andrews released a statement regarding Dineen’s passing.

“During his time as a player and coach, and in the values he instilled in his family, Bill Dineen created a legacy of greatness in the American Hockey League that still resonates today. Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Dineen family at this time.”

Brent Seabrook could return, but Jonathan Toews will miss ninth straight when Blackhawks play Stars

Brent Seabrook could return, but Jonathan Toews will miss ninth straight when Blackhawks play Stars

Brent Seabrook came onto the ice on Saturday morning, a welcome sight for a Blackhawks team that has dealt with a few injuries lately.

And while Seabrook's return seems imminent, Jonathan Toews’ status remains very much up in the air.

Seabrook (upper body) practiced on Saturday and could be available on Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Toews (back) did not skate and will miss his ninth consecutive game. Corey Crawford (appendectomy) will also be out, with Scott Darling getting his fifth consecutive start.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Seabrook feels on Sunday morning before making a decision.

The defenseman said he felt good following Saturday’s practice.

“The lungs at the end were burning a little bit with Kitch,” said Seabrook, referring to assistant coach Mike Kitchen. “But just trying to get ready to roll.”

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Seabrook hasn’t missed many games in recent years — he played 81 of 82 games in 2015-16, all 82 in each of the two seasons prior to that and 47 of 48 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

“It’s tough. You want to be out there and want to be playing. It’s tough not being out there with your teammates and helping them out and battling with them so I think we did a great job (Friday) night,” Seabrook said. “Had a great game, had a chance for two points in overtime there but got one, which is huge for our group. I think it’s good.”

As for Toews, Quenneville had hoped the captain would be skating by this weekend. He said following Saturday’s practice that Toews could skate on Sunday. Whether or not Toews accompanies the Blackhawks on their upcoming trip to New York depends on what happens on Sunday.

“If he skates tomorrow, we’ll have a better sense of that,” Quenneville said. “We have to do what’s right, long-term, and make sure he’s 100 percent and ready to go.”

Quenneville said he saw Crawford, who had his appendectomy on Dec. 2, Saturday at the rink.

“He’s doing all right,” Quenneville said. “Being away and then getting back on the ice, it’ll take some time to get him back to square one. He’s excited about getting back into equipment soon.”

Marian Hossa and Richard Panik did not practice on Saturday but were just taking rest days. Both are expected to play vs. the Stars.