NHL realignment doesn't change much for Hawks

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NHL realignment doesn't change much for Hawks

The Blackhawks didnt have a huge stake in the NHLs realignment. Nevertheless, with the leagues Board of Governors vote on Monday night, the Blackhawks will keep their biggest rival in their conference.

The board approved a four-conference alignment format that keeps the Detroit Red Wings in the same group as the Blackhawks. The board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the new setup, pending NHLPA input.

The Blackhawks new conference includes them, the Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.

Additionally, under the new format every team would play every other team outside of its conference twice once home and once away. That means the Blackhawks will host every team every season instead of every other season, as is the current setup.

That last item was a needed change. Too many seasons big stars werent playing in every building, denying fans a chance to see them. And for Blackhawks fans, that Red Wings matchup remains five or six times a season (an eight-team conference member that plays an opponent six times one season would play it five times the next season).

Oh, and heres the deal with playoffs: the top four teams in each conference qualify, with first place facing fourth and second playing against third. The four respective conference champs would meet in the third round of the playoffs.

Of all the teams in the Blackhawks conference, the Stars are probably the happiest travel-wise. The Stars have long been a member of the Pacific Division, traveling outside of their time zone one or two hours for every other division opponent.

And, of course, Winnipeg will get to see favorite son, Jonathan Toews, three times a year. Not a bad setup.

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.