Pack your bags, Hawks hitting the road

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Pack your bags, Hawks hitting the road

The Chicago Blackhawks figured theyd spend some time on the road early in this abbreviated season. That circus trip bit the dust with the lockout, but that lengthy road trip while the Disney ice show is in town remained.

So not only do the Blackhawks face a frenzied game schedule, theyll be on the road for a good chunk of it right out of the gate.

The Blackhawks will play 10 of their first 12 games on the road, including six on that ice show trip, part of the teams regular-season schedule that was released on Saturday night.

RELATED: Check out the 2013 Blackhawks schedule

The NHLPA ratified the new collective bargaining agreement on Saturday but schedules couldnt be officially released until both the PA and NHL agreed to and signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The two sides spent most of Saturday working on that.

For the Blackhawks, the road test starts immediately: at noon on Jan. 19 they play the defending champion Los Angeles Kings, who plan to raise their Stanley Cup banner that day.

The next night theyre in Phoenix, facing a Coyotes team that booted them from the 2011-12 postseason. Phoenix forward Raffi Torres will still be serving his suspension for elbowing Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in the head in Game 3 last April. The six-game ice show trip features treks to Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose, Phoenix and Nashville.

PHOTOS:A look inside the Hawks first 10 games

Not that the home schedule will be any easier. The Blackhawks will host the St. Louis Blues in its season opener on Jan. 22, then the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 27.

The schedule was already going to be hectic, given the leagues desire to get a 48-game season starting by Jan. 19. For the Blackhawks, however, the road presents another tough task to a team hoping to get off to a strong start.

But Bryan Bickell, when asked about the potential early road onslaught on Friday, didnt see it as a liability.

Well do some team bonding on the road; just to get some chemistry and get to know everybody. I know I havent seen most of these guys for four months, Bickell said. Every games important, whether we start at home or the road. And its going to be good to have the home games late because it may come down to that.

True, but if it comes down to that at the end its because the Blackhawks bobbed and wove their way through a brutal early road schedule oh, and their two home games in between all that travel are against division rivals St. Louis and Detroit.

The Blackhawks mettle will be tested early. And it will be tested far away from their friendly United Center setting.

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016-17 season, Blackhawks fans!]

“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

For Alexandre Fortin, the last few months have certainly been memorable.

It all started earlier this summer, when Blackhawks scout Alexandre Rouleau contacted Fortin’s agent: Fortin was invited to the team’s prospect camp. He did so well there that he was invited to the rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., last week. And now, the 19-year-old is here on a training-camp tryout.

Yeah, it was quite a summer. And now Fortin would like to turn it into just as memorable of an autumn.

Fortin assisted on a goal in Saturday’s scrimmage, part of the Blackhawks’ training camp festival at the United Center. The Blackhawks are going to be keeping an eye on Fortin, who’s been impressive since that July prospect camp.

“I like his willingness to learn. Those same things you talk about, immediately it translates right into the next shift,” Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen said. “He’s a smart, cerebral kid who has a nice offensive skillset he’s been able to show early. He’s off to a really good start and trying to find a way into one of our exhibition games.”

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Fortin had 19 goals in 54 games last season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Just to get a chance with the Blackhawks is motivation enough, although Fortin already had plenty. The Quebec native was passed over in two NHL drafts, much like former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw.

“I had two years where I didn’t get drafted, and it’s always hard mentally. But some guys never get drafted and have a good hockey career,” Fortin said. “I worked a lot in the summer just to be ready to try and do the same thing I did in prospect camp.”

Fortin also got some advice from family; his uncle is former NHL goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

“For sure, I had a couple of meetings with him just before I came here. He had a great career. He helped me on that. I can call him every time, ask him questions,” Fortin said. “It’s good to see the veteran guys. You have to use them as an example. It’s what I want to do. I have to learn how to be a pro.”

Fortin doesn’t know what the future holds but he’s getting a chance with the Blackhawks, something he didn’t foresee when the summer began. And with that chance, anything can happen.

“You have to stay focused on your goal,” Fortin said. “You know my life has changed a few times just with what I’ve done here. We’ll see after, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing now.”