Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

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Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

Coverage of tonight's season opener starts at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

DALLAS -- Brandon Saad has handled his quick-to-the-NHL odyssey very well this preseason. And that first road night out with the teammates was pretty enjoyable, too.

"We had a good dinner. The travel and all the expenses, it's pretty cool," Saad said with a laugh.

Now the Chicago Blackhawks will see how the rookie wing will handle his regular-season debut.

Saad's parents will be in the American Airlines Center crowd tonight as Saad and the Blackhawks open the season against the Dallas Stars. It's heady stuff for the 18-year-old, but he's handled it well thus far. Having Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp as linemates never hurts, either.

"Being as young as I am and playing with these two guys, it's going to be incredible," said Saad, who added he's been able to keep the nerves pretty calm so far. "There'll be some nerves closer to game time. But once you're out there you just play your game."

Linemate Sharp said "I'm sure there'll be some conversations throughout the game. Jonnny likes to talk and yell and scream if things aren't going well. We'll have advice for him but based on the way he's been playing I think he's ready to go."

Coach Joel Quenneville said he'll keep an eye on his young forward.

"He's with a couple nice guys to play with as well," Quenneville said. "They'll help him along and we'll see how he handles it."

Burish behavior

Former Blackhawks forward Adam Burish (groin) will miss Friday's opener but is hoping to play Saturday night when the Stars and Blackhawks meet again in Chicago. But Burish still couldn't pass up the chance to have fun with his old teammates.

"I could take on Kane with one groin no problem," Burish joked Friday. "I think just trying to hold down that big horse (Marian) Hossa would be a little tougher. But I could take (Patrick) Kane and (Patrick) Sharp with one groin. Im gonna rest up and embarrass them in their own building tomorrow."

Burish had fun talking about Kane playing center but nevertheless thinks his former teammate can play just fine there.

"He better practice his faceoffs a little bit because I remember beating him up in practice a few times," Burish said. "Hell be good though. The thing that hell be good at is just the way he skates. He can skate so good and on the wing, you gotta stop and start a little bit where now hell able to do those big loops and those circles and go back and take it off Duncan Keiths stick and skate all the way up the ice."

Dowell's new digs

Jake Dowell is getting used to his new surroundings in Dallas. He said he didn't know what to expect last summer, and was somewhat surprised that he wasn't a Blackhawk again this year. Dowell was one of the few who would tussle last season; but the Blackhawks let him go and signed gritty veterans Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo.

"I was a little bit surprised, but that's just the decision that was made and they wanted a group of different guys to get in there to bring the toughness and the grit," said Dowell, who adjusted to Dallas quickly.

"It's been a pretty easy transition getting down here and they've been great," Dowell said of the Stars. "It's been a little bit of a long training camp because you're just chomping at the bit to get going. But there's good chemistry with the team here."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mince words. Finding out his good friend, former assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired not long after the Blackhawks’ postseason ended, frustrated him.

“That day, I was not happy. I was a little disappointed,” Quenneville said on Thursday. “We lost a great coach and somebody I had been working with for a long time. It was tough and we’ve moved on now, but I wasn’t excited at the moment.”

In moving on the Blackhawks have revamped their coaching staff, adding another old friend and teammate of Quenneville’s in Ulf Samuelsson and a former member of his St. Louis staff in Don Granato. Quenneville said Samuelsson will take over Kitchen’s responsibilities while Granato will handle a number of tasks.

“Whether he’s pre-scout, helping Kevin [Dineen], helping Ulfie, helping me. He’s helping the young guys like Stan [Bowman] said,” Quenneville said. “We have input with all areas and all coaches and it’s a fun thing, drawing up practices or talking to guys, preparing meetings and evaluating performances. But I think he’s excited to be a part of that as well and Ulfie, he’ll be doing something he’s been doing and he’s excited to work with some of our defense as well.”

As far as the Blackhawks’ defensive style, Quenneville doesn’t foresee it changing.

“I think there are some areas how it ended or after a playoff series, there’s always some tweaks we like to do in games, in playoffs or in series," Quenneville said. "It’s obviously disappointing. But I think there’s a lot of positive things we accomplished last year and how we played without the puck, I don’t think that was too much of an issue.

"But we have a defense that can play both ways and we still want offense from our defensive part of our game. That’d be one of our strengths. But when it’s time to defend, how we want to play in our own end without the puck is something that’ll be very close to how we play.”

Kruger’s situation

There’s been plenty of talk regarding Marcus Kruger, and whether or not he’ll remain with the Blackhawks. Whatever the future holds for the center, general manager Stan Bowman wouldn’t say on Thursday.

“Yeah, there have been a lot of these rumors around, but Marcus is no different than any other player. I’m not going to comment on rumors out there, but people are stating it as if it’s a fact,” Bowman said of Kruger being at the center of trade rumors. “There’s a lot of speculation, but it’s not fair to the players for me to be commenting on what’s been rumored out there. I don’t really have anything to add on that front.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk was Vegas’ selection in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. But a source said it’s still possible the Blackhawks trade Kruger to the Golden Knights.

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

When the news came down that Marian Hossa would miss the 2017-18 season, most first thoughts were about his health. But it was only natural to look at the business implications, and the possibility of Hossa going on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

That would solve the Blackhawks’ cap issues, right? That would give them more money to spend, right? Well, not exactly. See, the LTIR can be a bit complicated. It can also be tricky to explain. And right now, even Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is trying to figure out how this all develops for the team.

“I think there’s a little bit of a misconception on the LTI provision in the salary cap, and understandably so. It’s very complicated. It’s not as simple or as easy as people think it to be,” Bowman said on Thursday, the day before the Blackhawks hosted the 2017 NHL Draft. “I don’t want to get into too many details because it’s hard to explain it all, but there’s a couple different ways it can work.

"You can use offseason LTI and in-season LTI and there’s drawbacks to both, and there’s limitations the way that the league handles those things. It’s not as simple as people might think that we just have this ability to suddenly replace Marian with another player. It’s way more involved than that.”

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below it the day the regular season begins. If the Blackhawks place Hossa on LTIR, it wouldn’t take effect until the second day of the regular season. So on Day 1 of the season, the Blackhawks would still be carrying Hossa’s $5.275 cap hit.

Once the LTIR would take effect, though, the Blackhawks would have wiggle room. If they spent to the $75 million cap, they could utilize Hossa’s entire $5.275 million cap hit on other players.

It’s not about the Blackhawks finding a guy this summer that makes an equal cap it.

“If you did that you would be essentially starting the year with an inability to make any transactions," Bowman said. "And that’s why, it’s a harder discussion to have because you’ve got to give you examples of if this happens. But it just doesn’t work that way. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. It’s a much more complicated provision than people think. It’s not some easy cap solution where we just go sign a player for the same amount and off we go. It’s much more problematic than that.”

The NHL will be looking at the situation, although there doesn’t seem to be anything that would keep the Blackhawks from putting Hossa on LTIR. Bowman wasn’t concerned about it.

Still, the Blackhawks will still be doing their share of offseason math.

“I know how it works. What’s going to happen is a different question," Bowman said. "You don’t make those decisions overnight, but I think that understandably there’s probably a lot of confusion, because it’s not your job to run the salary cap for a team. So, I can get why you don’t know all the little details, and it is a very intricate provision in the CBA. So, we understand it. We’ve used LTI before, so it’s not like it’s something we’ve never been faced with. It’s just a factor that we’ll get through.”