Toews, Montador skate; still no timetable on return

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Toews, Montador skate; still no timetable on return

Jonathan Toews skated for the fourth consecutive day and Steve Montador joined his teammates this morning as the Chicago Blackhawks prepared for tonights game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Toews (concussion) was already out for tonights game but is still hoping to play Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. A few things need to happen before then, however; the captain has not yet been cleared for contact and said hes still not feeling 100 percent.

Im getting closer and closer as far as how I feel injury wise but definitely could tell the conditioning needs some work, Toews said. Every time we play a game I hope for that game. Im not thinking about missing the game on Tuesday but Im more focused on how this practice went and what I have to do the rest of the day.

Montador (concussion) joined the Blackhawks for the first time since getting injured against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 7. He was skating on his own a few weeks back but was off the ice recently.

I dont call them setbacks, Montador said. When youre coming back after 3-4 weeks off and then skating again, sometimes you need to take some time off. Just because Im not skating doesnt mean Im not working out and training and stuff.

Its been a trying time for Montador, who has missed the last 15 games.

Coming back from an injury, and certainly one Ive never been out for this long during the regular season, its a challenge, he said. You feel like youre getting ready and then you take some time off. Theres some psychological and emotional turbulence that goes with it. Its certainly a challenge but the overall trend has been solid, which is exciting for me.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will prepare for a Kings team which has lost two in a row. The Kings are currently 11th in the Western Conference.

Ray Emery will start in goal for the Blackhawks. Emery has just three career games against the Kings, with a 1-0-0 record.

Brent Seabrook could return, but Jonathan Toews will miss ninth straight when Blackhawks play Stars

Brent Seabrook could return, but Jonathan Toews will miss ninth straight when Blackhawks play Stars

Brent Seabrook might be an option, but Jonathan Toews will miss his ninth consecutive game when the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars on Sunday night at the United Center.

Seabrook suffered an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. He did not play Friday when the Blackhawks lost 1-0 to the New York Rangers in overtime. Seabrook practiced on Saturday, but coach Joel Quenneville said he'll see how Seabrook feels on Sunday morning before seeing if the defenseman can play.

Toews has skated with the team just once since suffering his back injury against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 23. That was on Dec. 2; Toews skated mainly on his own that day before joining the team for about 10 to 15 minutes of practice. But Toews has not been on the ice since, and coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks won’t have a better idea of when Toews can return until he skates again.

Corey Crawford (appendectomy) did not practice.

Marian Hossa did not practice but was just taking a rest day. He’s expected to play Sunday. Same goes for Richard Panik, who also did not practice.

Scott Darling will start in net vs. the Stars.

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, died on Saturday morning. Kevin Dineen was not at practice.

Cincinnati hires Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell as new head coach

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AP

Cincinnati hires Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell as new head coach

Urban Meyer has lost another coordinator to the head-coaching ranks.

After reports Friday that Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell was talking with Cincinnati about its vacant head-coaching job, the Bearcats announced Saturday that Fickell is the guy.

"It’s with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati," Fickell said in the announcement. "This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough, blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program. This team belongs to this city, and we will make you proud."

Fickell had been a mainstay at Ohio State. He played there in the mid-1990s and returned as a graduate assistant in 1999. After a two-year stint as the defensive line coach at Akron, he returns as an assistant on Jim Tressel's staff, the special teams coordinator on the Buckeyes' national championship team in 2002. He spent six seasons as a defensive coordinator before Tressel's tenure ended in tumultuous fashion amid the "Tattoogate" scandal, and it was Fickell who took over as interim head coach, helping to keep the program together during a 6-7 season before Meyer arrived in 2012. Fickell stayed on Meyer's staff and has served as a defensive coordinator under Meyer for the past five seasons as Ohio State has posted a stunning 61-5 record with a national championship win in 2014.

Fickell's track record has been terrific in recent seasons, coaching a Buckeyes defense that's ranked as one of the nation's best. Ohio State currently ranks third in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 14.2 points a game, and fourth in the country in total defense, allowing an average of 282.3 yards per game. The Buckeyes also rank fourth in the nation in interceptions, fifth in passing defense and fifth in red zone defense. In 2015, the Buckeyes were second in the nation in scoring defense and ninth in total defense.

Six defensive players from the 2015 Ohio State team were selected in this year's NFL Draft, including three in the first round.

Cincinnati fills a vacancy created when Tommy Tuberville departed earlier this month. Tuberville posted a 4-8 record last season. Fickell seems a perfect fit with the Bearcats, as he brings that one season of head-coaching experience and intimate knowledge of the recruiting area.

"We are excited to welcome Luke, his wife Amy and their family to Cincinnati," Cincinnati athletics director Mike Bohn said in the announcement. "We targeted a number of criteria we wanted in our head football coach, and we were looking for the coach who was the best fit for our program, our university and our community and we have found that leader in Luke Fickell. His extensive ties to the state of Ohio, experience at a championship-level program in Ohio State, ability to evaluate and develop talent, energy and leadership are all qualities which set him apart. Above all else, he's a model of integrity and a great family man, and we look forward to partnering with him to continue to build upon our winning tradition."

Fickell is the second defensive coordinator in as many years to depart Meyer's staff for a head-coaching job and the third coordinator overall in as many years. Chris Ash left to coach Rutgers last offseason, and Tom Herman left for the head-coaching job at Houston two offseasons ago. Herman is now the head coach at Texas.

And some fun scheduling coincidences: Not only does Fickell's new team face Michigan next season during non-conference play, but the Bearcats take on the Buckeyes in 2019.