Blackhawks' Brian Campbell 'shocked' at Gerard Gallant firing by Panthers

Blackhawks' Brian Campbell 'shocked' at Gerard Gallant firing by Panthers

When the Florida Panthers fired Gerard Gallant, there were plenty of folks in the hockey world who were surprised.

Count Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell among them.

Campbell, who played his final two seasons in Florida with Gallant at the helm, was stunned to hear Gallant was fired following the Panthers’ 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.

“Surprise. Probably a lot like everyone else, it seems, was pretty surprised at what happened,” Campbell said following the Blackhawks’ practice on Monday. “Gerard’s a great guy. I liked him. I thought he did a good job there. So yeah, I was surprised, shocked. I don’t know what else to say. They’re playing their game above .500 and they’ve had some injuries. I don’t think anybody thought that was coming.”

Gallant led the Panthers to the postseason last year. The Panthers are 11-10-1 entering Tuesday, when they’ll face the Blackhawks. General manager Tom Rowe will take over as the Panthers’ head coach. Campbell said he talked to some of his former teammates about the firing – “there were rumblings, I guess. Not coming from them, but stuff from behind the scenes and what you hear in the media.”

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Campbell called Gallant “a player’s coach.”

“For us, our practices were nice and short and hard and that’s what you want as a player. He gave you some guidelines to play around. He didn’t have too many highs, too many lows. It’s nice to come to the rink and be even-keel, today’s a new day and you keep going forward,” Campbell said. “We had some success there with him, and that’s the biggest part that’s surprising right now.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said he was watching hockey on Sunday night when he saw the news of Gallant’s firing.

“Very surprised,” Quenneville said. “I wish him well. Tough part of our business.”

Patrick Kane, Eddie Olczyk, Dale Tallon and more team up and lace up for charity

Patrick Kane, Eddie Olczyk, Dale Tallon and more team up and lace up for charity

Officially the Blackhawks season begins Thursday, Oct. 4th against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

BUT … if you just can’t wait that long to see some of your favorite Blackhawks then you may want to check out the Chicago Hockey Charity Classic.

The event is a charity hockey game that is being put on by Illinois native Topher Scott. Scott played locally for organizations such as the Chicago Young Americans before playing for the Chicago Steel of the USHL and capping off an impressive amateur career with four years at Cornell University.

The goal of the event is to raise $100K for Special Olympics Chicago by putting together a game full of local hockey celebrities shown below.

CSN’s own Eddie Olczyk will step down from the booth and onto the ice joining a list of impressive current and former Blackhawks. And oh yeah, a guy named Patrick Kane will also be participating.

This game is not limited to only Blackhawks. It has an impressive list of Illinois natives such as:

Garret Sparks, G, Toronto Maple Leafs — Elmhurst

Robbie Russo, D, Detroit Red Wings —  Westmont

John Moore, D, New Jersey Devils —  Winnetka

Megan Bozek, D, USA Women's National Team —  Arlington Heights

Kendall Coyne, D, USA Women's National Team — Oak Lawn

And more.

Even local Twitter celebrity @BarstoolChief is getting in on the action for a good cause.

The game is taking place on Saturday, Aug. 5th at 3 p.m. at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva. Leading up to puck drop there is a GiveGab online fundraising campaign that you can visit here, and contribute if you would like.

If you are in desperate need of seeing some Blackhawks hockey, or just want to be part of a great cause you can get your tickets to the event right here for just $25.

Better hurry up though, Scott is anticipating all 3,000 tickets to sell out.

Why Blackhawks prospects are already buying what Rockford coach Jeremy Colliton is selling

Why Blackhawks prospects are already buying what Rockford coach Jeremy Colliton is selling

Luke Johnson has gotten a few chances to talk to Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton, and he likes what the new coach is selling.

“He seems like a knowledgeable guy about the game,” said Johnson, who played 73 games with the IceHogs last season. “He’s a younger guy and his career wasn’t too long ago. That’s always nice having a younger coach that can kind of relate to us a little bit more. I’m looking forward to getting going with him and working with him.”

They’ve gotten to work together some already at the Blackhawks’ development camp this week, where Colliton has started to see who may be making up the IceHogs’ roster in a few months. The 32-year-old Colliton was a player himself not too long ago, and that connection has meant a smaller gap between he and his future players.

“I guess it’s another way to relate to them, another way to try and get the message across that they need to hear to get better,” Colliton said. “I’ve been in their shoes, I’ve been in their position and so hopefully that allows me to get that message across… whether it’s part of their game or what they’re doing off ice or how they approach things. There are so many things that can help them become Blackhawks. Getting that message across in different ways is a benefit.”

Colliton was among the coaches working with a group of prospects on Wednesday afternoon. Several of the players in that group either played some in Rockford last season (including Johnson and Matheson Iacopelli) or are headed there for the first time this fall. At the same time Colliton is learning himself, getting integrated in the Blackhawks’ way of doing things.

“Right from the first interview there’s been a discussion on how the Blackhawks want to play, and it fits well with how I see the game and how we played in Mora,” said Colliton of the team he coached in Sweden prior to returning to the states. “Whether it’s new guys as first-year pros or guys who have been there before, we have to continue to play at a high pace, have the puck as much as possible and play that up-tempo style that’s given the organization so much success.”

The fact that Colliton isn’t far removed from the game himself has already helped him connect with his soon-to-be IceHogs players. The other connection is the desire to win, which is there regardless of age gap.

“I’ve always paid attention to what I thought was important to win. As a competitor, nothing better than winning. As a player it was a big priority for me and when you become a coach it’s the same thing. You do whatever you can to help the team win and help the players learn what it takes to be successful individually,” Colliton said. “If you start there, they’re receptive to your message.”