Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

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Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

The Chicago Blackhawks failed to land coveted forward Zach Parise on Wednesday, but general manager Stan Bowman is confident the Blackhawks will get what they need either through free agency, or through trades.

Parise was pursued by the Blackhawks during this early free-agency period but he went home, literally, signing a 13-year, 98-million deal with the Minnesota Wild. It was a disappointing pill to swallow for the Blackhawks; but Parises decision and that of Ryan Suter, who also signed with the Wild and whom also the Blackhawks were interested in early -- didn't totally surprise Bowman.

"We made a very appealing offer to them, but they didn't grow up in Chicago," Bowman said on a conference call on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks were one of the finalists for Parise, and Bowman said they made a "very impressive offer" for the Devils forward.

"Ultimately it came down to a family decision. Those are things that are sometimes hockey decisions, sometimes family decisions, and you respect that," Bowman said. "Players like to play in their hometowns and there are family considerations with the wife. When those are the things that are the tipping point, you have to wish them well and move on to the next matter at hand. We made an impressive case. That's the feedback we got from the agent."

The Blackhawks also went after veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who chose to re-sign with the Devils. But Bowman said approaching Brodeur didn't mean his confidence in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery wavered.

"He's the winningest goalie in the game; youd foolish not to talk with him. But beyond that, I don't think it says anything about (lack of confidence)," Bowman said. "I've said this for a long time: anytime you can talk to a player like that, it doesnt really disparage players. You wouldnt be doing your job if you didnt talk to them."

So what's next?

Matt Carle is one of the bigger free agents remaining. Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash have been mentioned in various trades. Considering the deals handed out for defensemen thus far, Carle could be cashing in on a massive payday. The Blackhawks may not want to get caught up in that.

Bowman said hell continue to look at free agency and trade possibilities to improve the Blackhawks, who are coming off two first-round exits. His objective, however, is not necessarily about making a splash.

Our (objective) is to win hockey games, he said. Its to put a team on the ice to give us the best chance to win the Cup next year. Its not like we have seven holes to fill. Last years team had 101 points and there was a lot more to give. There are ways to be better with that same group. Think there was some growth from within that were going to do, and well look at adding players from the outside.

Trades wont be ruled out, either.

A source said that the Blackhawks were looking at Jay Bouwmeester as the calendar turned to July. The Calgary Flames have nine defensemen including Bouwmeester, who has two years remaining on his current contract (at a 6.68 million cap hit per season).

The Blackhawks didnt land Parise. Neither did the other teams who were in hot pursuit of them. Bowman will continue to look at the options. There does need to be changes off last years team, no doubt. But Bowman wont break the bank, and the Blackhawks dont need a complete overhaul to get where they need to be.

Im not saying were simply going to sit and stand still where were at. Theres always the possibility of making acquisitions, trades, he said. We cant forget that in the season last year, we didnt have ending we wanted. But weve got some good pieces in Chicago, and were fortunate for that.

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.