Bickell sees improvement after playing in Europe

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Bickell sees improvement after playing in Europe

Bryan Bickell was so used to the bigger European ice that when he first returned for the Blackhawks informal workouts, he misjudged the area.

I remember the first practice (back) here at Johnnys, I ran into the boards, Bickell said. All the guys liked that.

All kidding and smaller ice area aside, Bickell took advantage of his time playing over in Europe. And he said the biggest improvement he made was with his skating.

It was the systems, I think, Bickell said. There isnt a lot of structure but its a very big skating league with the bigger ice, and just the open ice so much more. It was just overall the ice and how good the skaters were. The systems arent what they are here, but it was a good league.

Bickell joined HC Znojmo, an Austrian League squad based in the Czech Republic, in early October. Besides adjusting to the country, Bickell had to get used to the bigger ice fast.

Positioning-wise, the smarter play is probably the easier play with less skating. There is so much ice, so much more time that if you give any guys that are skilled a chance, theyll blow by you. You had to position yourself in the right spot, Bickell said. It took a couple of games to figure it out; a lot of huffing and puffing those first few games. But hopefully I can keep it going over here.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he saw the change in Bickell immediately.

I noticed him the first day in camp that he's skating better, Quenneville said. He might have shed a few pounds, and he was talking about the big ice surface over there, where it's more of a skating game. We like his size, we like his quickness, and with his physicality added to that.

Bickell got his skating work in over in Europe. He hopes to keep seeing results of it now that hes back in a Blackhawks uniform.

I know we have to stick to our systems and its not a run and gun game over here, but my cardio and and fitness right now is probably the highest its ever been. Coming off that and not sitting here waiting for the season to start was huge. I feel good and were playing good.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.

A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.

A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.

Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.

Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Vinnie Hinostroza talks rookie season and new wrinkle to offseason training

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Vinnie Hinostroza talks rookie season and new wrinkle to offseason training

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, forward Vinnie Hinostroza joins Pat Boyle and evaluates his rookie season, tells us how he has added MMA and Ju-jitsu to his offseason training and is he going to room with Ryan Hartman next season?

Plus, Tracey Myers joins Pat to discuss Patrick Kane’s first interview this offseason, the latest on the Blackhawks coaching moves and tournament fall-out for Artemi Panarin, Marcus Kruger and Alex DeBrincat.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below.