Youthful energy 'contagious' for Blackhawks

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Youthful energy 'contagious' for Blackhawks

Theres a vibe going through the Chicago Blackhawks locker room with the arrival of rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw. Its an energy, an exuberance that the young upstart guys have provided.

And as the Blackhawks trudge through the toughest part of this long NHL season, its an energy level they appreciate having.

Sometimes, between games 40 and 60 its such a long period of time. Now all of a sudden we have the new blood, Marian Hossa said. Theyve brought something, a little life to our team again. And you can tell right now. Were rolling four lines and you feel the energy.

When teams reach this point of the season, it can drag a bit. Its not the first 20 games, when everyones excited to start the new campaign. Its not the final 20, when everyones gearing up and pushing for the playoffs. Its the middle of the season, when finding the energy, especially mentally, is a bit trickier.

So enter the rookies, who are damn happy to be here every day. Shaw said it himself on Wednesday night: he and Hayes dont want to get reassigned. Theyre living the dream, and the excitement theyre feeling is resonating through the locker room.

Especially at this time of the year, injecting these guys in your lineup you get an energy and an enthusiasm in practice that keeps everybody young, coach Joel Quenneville said. I think its easy to add that type of element to your team. You could use it right now and I think you notice it as well.

The veteran players are noticing it, too.

This is a tough part of the year; were not quite at the end of the season, were past the beginning and its always a grind. But certainly in the tight race were in, in the Central Division and Western Conference, that energy keeps us on our toes, Jamal Mayers said.

What Hayes and Shaw have brought on the ice has certainly been noticed. The exuberant attitude theyve brought to practices, skates and to the locker room is welcomed, too.

Its contagious, Mayers said. Thats what young guys are supposed to bring: the excitement of being in the NHL. And you can see it in their eyes. Theyre not just happy to be here, but theyve got that excitement and theyve realized their dream to be here. Thats infectious.

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.