Bowman on Toews, trades, and his new job

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Bowman on Toews, trades, and his new job

Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman was a guest on "NHL Live" on NHL Network Wednesday afternoon, and backed up what head coach Joel Quenneville told the media the previous two days concerning the severity of what appears to be a hand or wrist injury Jonathan Toews sustained last weekend, forcing him to miss Tuesday's loss to Nashville.

"Most likely," Bowman replied when asked if the captain would be ready after the All-Star break. "It's certainly not a long-term injury. We'll see how he does with a little bit of work on the injury. We have a long road trip coming up, starting in Vancouver next Tuesday and we're targeting him to play in that game, and he's on track to hopefully be ready by then."

As for his assessment of his team, Bowman told co-hosts Deb Placey and Ken Daneyko fourth in the division and sixth in the conference isn't good enough.

"I think there's room for improvement" Bowman said. "We've had a good first 50 games for our group. We've put ourselves in a decent position going forward. There's four teams in our division who are on pace for 100 points, which is hard to believe, really. We have a lot of games against those teams. We're looking to improve our overall consistency. I think when our team plays to our level, like when we've gone on some winning streaks this year, we're very tough to beat, but there's other times we've struggled.

"We're looking to improve our team through trades, but as you can see, there's not a lot happening on that front. A lot of talking, but I think it will speed up a little bit as we get closer to the deadline. But right now, it's a wait-and-see approach, and trying to find answers from within."

Bowman was then asked how aggressive he's been looking to deal, and reiterated what he's recently told the Chicago media about where he's looking to upgrade.

"I've talked to a lot of general managers over the last few weeks, going back to December, just trying to get an idea of what they're looking to do and I've tried to make it clear what we're trying to do," he said. "Right now, we're seeing a slowdown because there's nobody really ready to sacrifice their season yet and start trading away their valuable players. I've had a lot of conversations and letting people know we're willing to trade but there's nothing happening at the moment.

"In general, you can never be too deep at the center ice position. We've got a lot of young players who've stepped in and helped us this year, but I think having depth there is important. Same thing with defense. We've got eight defensemen with us right now who I think all can play. We've got a couple kids in the minors whom we're high on and could also contribute, but if you're looking for that proven NHL defenseman, that's something we have to look at."

The NHL trade deadline is Monday, February 27th, at 2 p.m., Chicago time.

Bowman was a guest primarily to discuss being added by USA Hockey to the U.S. Mens National Team Advisory Group in leading the selection of American-born players for international competitions. He'll join a panel that already includes Toronto's Brian Burke, Philadelphia's Paul Holmgren, Dean Lombardi of Los Angeles, Nashville's David Poile, Ray Shero of Pittsburgh and former Atlanta Thrashers executive Don Waddell.

"I'm very thrilled to have the opportunity to help out any way I can," said Bowman. "They did a phenomenal job in the team they prepared for Vancouver, coming so close to the gold medal. We're certainly aiming to repeat that performance, but it's not an easy task. There's a lot of players to evaluate and try to assemble to compete against the other great countries. It's an opportunity for me to be exposed to different things and contribute to not only the Olympic team, but the World Championship team."

The next event for which Bowman and the six others will need to assemble a team for is the IIHF World Championships May 4-20 in Helsinki and Stockholm.

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild have been chasing the Blackhawks for a long time.

They may not be so far away now.

After falling behind 2-0, the Wild scored three unanswered goals to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night, and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with 61 points, and still have four games in hand.

But even the Wild had to remind themselves that they're on the same playing surface as the Blackhawks, who eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, two of which were en route to Stanley Cup wins.

"We were pretty slow," coach Bruce Boudreau said about the team's first period. "I thought we were in a little bit of quick sand. We watched them play. I think it was a little bit more [we were] in awe. It's the Chicago Blackhawks, we're supposed to be in awe."

When they snapped out of it, the Wild looked like the team that has become one of the NHL's best, having now won 17 of their last 19 games.

Wild nemesis Patrick Kane scored the game's first two goals, but Minnesota displayed the type of resiliency every contender needs by evening it up in the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Nino Neiderreiter — his third goal in as many games — and Chris Stewart, who found the back of the net for the second consecutive contest.

Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 19 straight games, registered the game-winner early in the third period to cap off a Wild victory. It's Minnesota's eighth straight win against Chicago, a feat that even its coach can't explain.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," Boudreau said. "I don't understand how you could do it. I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple years ago. But it's a new year and it's just one in a row right now."

That's one of many reasons why the Wild have been so successful this season. They're taking it one game at a time, and no matter what the score is, they continue to play the same way and have the belief they can win any game.

Less than 24 hours before their win over the Blackhawks, the Wild jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Dallas and squandered it in the third period. They found a way to bounce back, however, to take home a 5-4 victory in regulation.

So, how do they keep doing it?

"I don't know," Boudreau responded. "We're supposed to. If you want to win, you've got to come back, right? You got to believe. I think the biggest thing is believing you can, and that's the first step. If you don't believe you can come back, you never come back. If you always believe there's a chance, there's a good chance you can do it."

Said Stewart: "I just think we're a confident bunch. We believe in ourselves. We know we didn't get the start that we wanted, but we got one to crawl back in it and all this team needs is a little bit of life."

There's no better measuring stick than to beat a team in your division that's won three championships since 2010, and has been powerhouses in the West for nearly a decade.

And it's something the Wild hope — and believe — they're in the process of achieving.

"It's always a big rival," Neiderreiter said. "You always want to beat the Hawks. They won a few Stanley Cup in the past few years, and that's something we want to accomplish someday. To do that, we have to make sure we beat top teams like that."

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Well, that weekend didn't go as planned.

The Blackhawks played a lot better on Sunday night but suffered the same fate as Friday, coming away with no points and losing first place in the Western Conference in their 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Let's dispense with the frivolities. Here are Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' loss to Minnesota.

1. Strong start. The Blackhawks needed to come out strong in this one, mainly because their Friday game against the Washington Capitals was so bad but also because the Wild were coming off a frenzied 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. The Blackhawks got the appropriate start, outshooting the Wild 14-8 and leading 1-0 on Patrick Kane's goal. Speaking of which… 

2. Kane with the great evening. The Blackhawks dressing seven defensemen meant one thing: Kane was probably going to get a lot of ice time. That he did, double-shifting with the second and fourth lines in the first period and giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with first- and second-period goals. Kane finished with a career-high 12 shots on goal in 27:09 of ice time. "You know you're going to play a lot. I don't know if [27] minutes is that amount you want to be playing, but at the same time, you're not going to say no when he calls you to go out there too," Kane said.

3. The Wild respond in the second. Minnesota didn't have the best start but they regained momentum and erased a deficit in the second period. It's not that their chances were that much better than the Blackhawks – it was a fairly even period in every way, from shots on goal (16-15 Blackhawks) to overall play. But coach Joel Quenneville didn't like how the Blackhawks played on Nino Niederreiter or Chris Stewart's goals, calling the mistakes made on them, "cardinal sins."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Quiet night for the top line. Outside of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks' top line didn't do much on Sunday night. Hossa had two shots on goal. Jonathan Toews had none, as it was another too-quiet night for the Blackhawks' captain. 

5. Minnesota keeps the rivalry edge. Remember those three consecutive springs in which the Blackhawks dispatched the Wild? Well, the past two seasons may not be equal in payback terms but the Wild are nevertheless tilting the rivalry – at least in regular-season games – in their favor. The Wild won all five games last season and took the first of this season, as well. Minnesota made some good offseason moves, including acquiring Eric Staal in July. Full marks to the Wild: right now, they are the cream of the Western Conference crop.