Facing an Original Six is always something special

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Facing an Original Six is always something special

When you are forced to play 14 of 18 games on the road during the "Dog Days of Hockey," you know there are some quirks in the schedule.

One of the benefits of this strange sequence for the Blackhawks is that we are in the midst of watching our third Original Six team in the last five games. Enjoy it while it lasts because the next Original Six team we will see is on the last day of the regular season when the Blackhawks face off against the Detroit Red Wings, a game that should have plenty of playoff implications.

So why the love affair with Original Six teams? For me, it's all about the history. The NHL has been around for 95 years, and all of the Original Six have been around for the better part of that. Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and New York.

As a guy who played in the 1980s and 90s, it's hard to describe going into a building that you know Jean Beliveau, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Jean Ratelle, Eddie Giacomin, Dave Keon, Tim Horton, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito played in. I know all of those buildings are different now -- except for Madison Square Garden -- but seeing those team jerseys brings back a lot of great memories. With the geographical realignment of 1998, Chicago now only has the Red Wings as consistent Original Six combatants.

Each of these cities are hockey hotbeds in their own way, with the title going to Montreal. Even after a disappointing season and a team in turmoil, they still pack the Bell Centre with loud and knowledgeable fans. I think that's what I liked best about playing in these cities: People know hockey, they grew up with it and although some never played, they had their dad's and grandfather's explaining in great detail the rules and regulations of this game.

Who knows how the battle between the NHL and the Players Association plays out this off season. I'm thinking cooler heads will prevail, and with that, an opportunity to see our five brethren on a more consistent basis. That should make for more great history and more great hockey.

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.