How the Blackhawks turned disaster into domination

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How the Blackhawks turned disaster into domination

The mood in the Blackhawks locker room after their 9-2 loss to Edmonton in November was understandably angry and frustrated.

It was an ugly loss in every sense, a big wake-up call for a Blackhawks team that was up and down through November. And its one that got the Blackhawks talking to their coaches and amongst themselves.

Apparently, those were some productive talks.

The Blackhawks head into Monday nights game against the Edmonton Oilers a much different and better team. They are 12-4-1 since that awful game and have the most points in the league with 52. The Blackhawks had several tough games in November, but the one in Edmonton set off the alarm bells.

Sometimes it takes a game like that where you take a step back and analyze things, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Our team games been great since then; weve played well. Sometimes games like that, they can just get out of hand. The next thing you know the scores bad. But we definitely took a lot of notice there.

Coach Joel Quenneville refers to that loss as a whatever-you-want-to-call-it type of game; the most negative word you use (to describe it).

The media questioned if the Blackhawks should still take their mid Circus-trip excursion to Las Vegas after such a loss. They did, and apparently the time away from the game and talking about the previous one helped.

Looking back, it was probably a good thing to talk about what was going on, Patrick Sharp said. I still think our best game of the season was that 1-0 loss to San Jose right after the Edmonton game. Maybe it was a good thing it happened.

The Blackhawks did seem to derive some lessons from that game. Their record since then proves they heeded them. The differences between the team in November and the team now are evident, and in a good way. The Blackhawks played with the team mentality the rest of that Circus Trip, going 2-1-0 on the back end of it. And they carried that into December, which was a very productive month for them.

We realized as a team that we needed to bring it every night, Jamal Mayers said. Were still a work in progress, still searching and we can still get better.

Perhaps it was a turning point. Maybe it was just the Blackhawks going through the November pains. Their travel schedule during that month was brutal and they were still integrating a couple of new players. That game was nevertheless a wakeup call, and the Blackhawks responded to it.

Were coming together as a team now, Keith said. I still think weve got a lot of room for improvement. But you can definitely feel it in the dressing room. Our chemistrys clicking now.

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.