Bolland given opportunity on Hawks' second-line

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Bolland given opportunity on Hawks' second-line

Weve all gotten used to seeing Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland in a certain role: center of the third line, leader of the checkers, aggravator of the Sedins.

But on Sunday, the Blackhawks first day of training camp, Bolland was taking a different role: second-line center, between two scoring snipers. And while line changes are always possible with the Blackhawks, for now its Bollands opportunity to move up one.

Bolland skated between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane on the Blackhawks No. 2 line, as team staff is ready to see him spread his scoring wings. Bolland has proven himself as the checking-line center; hes good at it, and good at getting in opposing top line players heads. But theres always been that other side of Bolland, the guy who can get on some scoring streaks, and the Blackhawks are hoping to see that more with this move.

Everybody kind of puts him as a third-line center, in that checking role, and a lot of times that line can be our best line. So having some offensive guys surrounding (Bolland), we think thered be nice production with the three of them plus theres some defensive responsibility, coach Joel Quenneville said. I like the balance that line shows.

General manager Stan Bowman agreed.

Weve talked about giving him an expanded role on our team for some time, and the time is now, Bowman said. On some of our playoff runs, he has ability to do things offensively. In that role, its probably more important that a player has the awareness to play in his own end. We have some high-end offensive players on wings. He doesnt have to surpass them; just play the defensive role on that line and be able to read off them, which Dave can do.

Bolland, who has played that role briefly a few times, is ready for the opportunity.

Playing with Kaner and Sharpie is always a privilege. Its a big role to embrace and I think Im ready for it, said Bolland. For sure, the offense is there. But Ive always been taught that defense is the game and you have to take care of that. Itll be a different mindset, going against different lines out there. But itll be good.

Bolland tallied 19 goals last season, tying a career high set in 2008-09. For Kane, the potential for Bolland to help linemates, and score more himself, is there.

Ive had some success playing with Bolland, and I know other players have in the past, Kane said. Hes a great center. He does a lot of things you want a center to do, moving the puck up ice and doing other things wingers arent supposed to. (His offense) is overlooked. He has all the talent in the world. Hes got a great shot, great hands. And hopefully he can show that.

Sharp said Bollands defensive skills are an added bonus for the line.

Bolleys a great player and weve had success in the past, he said. Theres a lot of talk with him playing with Kaner and myself, but hes still going to play his game. Hes still going to be tough to play against.

Bollands defense will remain. The Blackhawks dont want him to lose that. They just see his scoring potential, and they want to see it more.

Bolland, offensively, has skill. You can argue on any team of the league he could be the second-line center. But we dont expect him to be just in that (checking) role. I think theres more there.

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

After struggling to find a new home this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Kris Versteeg is expected to leave the National Hockey League and sign with SC Bern of National League A, better known as the Swiss League, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The former Blackhawks forward, who spent five seasons in Chicago from 2007-10 and 2013-15, scored 15 goals and 23 assists in 77 games last year with the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings.

It was his highest point total (38) in a season since 2011-12 when he tallied 54 with the Florida Panthers.

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There's no question Versteeg can contribute on the bottom-six for a contender in the NHL, but at 30 years of age and already with two Stanley Cups under his belt, perhaps he feels he can play a larger role elsewhere and will look to accomplish that overseas.

Bouncing around six different times (all via trades) certainly takes a toll, too.

In 550 career games, Versteeg has 131 goals and 182 assists across nine seasons in the NHL with the Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Panthers, Hurricanes and Kings. 

He was drafted in the fifth round (No. 134 overall) of the 2004 draft by the Boston Bruins.

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

The Blackhawks organization doesn't only win on the ice.

The team announced Wednesday that their Marketing Department's #WhatsYourGoal campaign, specifically the #WhatsYourGoal: Jenny spot with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, was honored with the Golden Matrix Award for the Best Promotional Video at the 2016 Information Display Entertainment Association (IDEA) Conference for the second consecutive year. 

Additionally, the Blackhawks Game Operations Department and United Center Scoreboard Operations Department were named the NHL's Best Overall Video Display and Production for the second year in a row. These same departments also received the Golden Matrix Award for Best Overall Video Display in the NHL at the 2008 and 2009 IDEA Conferences. 

IDEA recognizes superior achievement throughout the large screen video and matrix display industry by awarding its Golden Matrix Awards (GMAs) at the annual IDEA Conference. The purpose of the GMAs is to recognize artistic and technical excellence in the programming of large screen video and matrix displays located at stadiums, arenas, racetracks, convention centers and other public assembly facilities.

Just last month, Blackhawks players Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin took home multiple awards at the NHL Awards ceremony for their impressive performances on the ice in 2016. Kane won the Hart Trophy for most valuable player, as well as the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's regular-season scoring leader and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player. Panarin was named the Calder Trophy winner for top rookie in the NHL this past season.

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016-17 regular-season national television schedule Thursday, and there will be plenty of opportunities (21, to be exact) for people across the country to catch a Chicago Blackhawks game on television this year.

The Blackhawks will be making a league-high 21 national television appearances starting with their season-opener on Wednesday, Oct. 12 when they host the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Stay tuned for CSN to release the entire local television schedule, including the preseason broadcast schedule, at a later date.

Here is the full Blackhawks' national television schedule: