Familiarity could lead to success

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Familiarity could lead to success

When the Chicago Blackhawks look around the room, they see something thats been a bit foreign to them: familiar faces.

Sure, those teams leading up to the 2010 Stanley Cup were full of them. But since then, its been a turnstile of players joining and leaving the organization. Until now. Because after two seasons of much turnover and many personnel changes, the Blackhawks made very few moves this offseason. That has led to familiarity in the locker room.

Considering how short training camp was and how little time teams will have to adjust during this 48-game season, that familiarity could be a good thing.

We know its mainly the same team from last year but were a year older with a year of experience under our belt, Patrick Kane said after Fridays practice. Last year we still had a good season; we had over 100 points. We didnt have a good (postseason) but we felt we had a team that could make a good run. Its the same group, but a little more experienced.

Marian Hossa agreed.

There are just a couple of new names, not many, he said. Guys are more familiar with the system, and in a short season that should help us be on the same page.

Indeed, outside of adding Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival on the back end, the Blackhawks should know each other well. Its a far cry from two seasons ago, when the post-Cup dismantling gave the Blackhawks a very different look. The 2011-12 season featured its share of new faces, too, with Andrew Brunette, Sean ODonnell, Steve Montador and Jamal Mayers among the new acquisitions.

In the second half of last season several Rockford players started to emerge, namely Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig. Theyre back. So is just about everyone else, save ODonnell and Brunette. So the Blackhawks havent had to introduce as many new bodies to their system.

It helps, system-wise, coach Joel Quenneville said. Weve always changed the lines and the new look gives you a little excitement. But as far as knowing where we have to be, predictability with or without the puck, you have a lot of freedom to do what you feel whats right. But the one area we all should be excited about is improving on our special teams as well.

Yes, the forward lines will likely change a few times this season these are the Blackhawks, after all. But no one is a stranger to each others game anymore, so even when combinations are switched, they wont be completely foreign.

When you dont make as many changes, you dont have to make new friends or get to know how other guys play, Dave Bolland said. These guys were all here last year. Were all pretty comfortable here and I think its going to be a great year.

The Blackhawks are on the same hectic schedule as every other team in the NHL. But theyre on the same wavelength. And with little time to adjust and prepare for this season, the few changes could be beneficial.

We were disappointed at the end of last year, Quenneville said. Lets rectify that. We have something to prove.

Blackhawks announce three new signings

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Blackhawks announce three new signings

The Blackhawks agreed to terms with goaltender Lars Johansson, defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Martin Lundberg on one-year deals on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Kempny had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 59 games with Avangard Omsk (KHL) last season. He had two assists in eight games with the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship.

Johansson, 28, spent the last three seasons with Frolunda HC (Swedish Hockey League). He was 56-27-0 over those three seasons. Last season, he had a league-leading 1.74 goals-against average and a 27-6-0 record.

The 25-year-old Lundberg had 13 goals and eight assists in 44 games with Skelleftea AIK (Swedish Hockey League). He also had two goals in eight games with Sweden in the World Championship.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews lists Lincoln Park mansion for $3.9 million

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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews lists Lincoln Park mansion for $3.9 million

Less than 18 months after buying a five-bedroom, 6,400-square-foot mansion in Lincoln Park, Jonathan Toews has put it on the market for $3.899 million. 

The Blackhawks captain is looking to downsize, according to the Chicago Tribune, but listing agent Kai Schirmacher said he plans to remain in the city.

Toews, 28, purchased the four-story home for $3.525 million several months after inking an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with Chicago in July 2014.

Check out pictures from when he first bought the mansion below:

Report: Blackhawks agree to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny

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Report: Blackhawks agree to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny

The Blackhawks have reportedly agreed to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny, according to ESPN's Craig Custance. It's a one-year, entry-level contract worth somewhere in between $575,000 and $925,000, according to generalfanager.com.

The 25-year-old Czech Republic native registered five goals, 16 assists and owned a plus-17 rating in 59 regular-season games this past season with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. He also racked up four points (two goals and two assists) and had a plus-7 rating in 11 postseason contests.

Kempny waited until after the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship ended before making a decision. He had two assists in eight games during the tournament, and was tied for the team-lead with a plus-7 rating. His performance was good enough to be named one of Czech Republic's best players.

Kempny is a 6-foot, 194-pound left-handed defenseman who's known for his puck-moving skills and his ability to play well at both ends of the ice.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman spoke with Scott Powers of The Athletic earlier this month about the possibility of signing Kempny, and provided a quick scouting report on him:

“He’s a mobile defenseman,” Bowman said. “He’s got that mixture of offense and defense. I would call him a really well-rounded guy. He can defend well in his own end. Mobility, he’s a good skater. He can transition the puck. He can sort of play a well-rounded game, which I think as a defenseman, you’ve seen our team play a lot, you have to be able to defend for our coaches to be able to rely on you. He’s got that ability to sort of play both ways.”

Kempny gives the Blackhawks an NHL-ready defenseman with the potential to slot into a top-four role, or at least take some pressure off a blue line group that lacked the depth it's had in previous seasons.