Blackhawks unsure about realignment

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Blackhawks unsure about realignment

When the NHLPA refused to provide consent for the NHLs proposed new realignment on Friday, it seemed surprising. But players say more discussion is needed before they can give the thumbs up to it.

The Blackhawks reacted to the news on Sunday, with all agreeing that there was good and bad parts of the realignment, which may not be implemented for the 2012-13 season.

They made a decision (in December) and made it sound like a done deal and we had no discussion in it, Blackhawks player representative John Scott said. We were on a conference call (with Donald Fehr), we discussed options we had and we were unanimous that we cant accept it at this time.

The biggest sticking points came down to the conference setups and how they factored into who did or didnt make the playoffs. With the top four teams in each conference making the postseason, the two seven-team conferences would have a distinct advantage.

A player wants to be able to make it to the playoffs; thats a big part of your career. To have a disadvantage by where you get drafted or signed, its not something that seems fair, defenseman Steve Montador said. (Considering) that and other things, werent able to agree on it.

Viktor Stalberg, who said hes read the statements from both sides, admitted he wasnt sure how he felt about realignment when it was first announced.

It seemed kind of weird, Stalberg said. Its exciting to have a home and home with every team; the fans would appreciate that. But we wanted more info and they didnt seem to want to provide it for us. Hopefully we can get back to discussing it and figure out something that works for both sides.

Montador said he doesnt foresee the realignment issues reflecting on how the new CBA talks will go; the current agreement expires in September.

Will this realignment get done? The players definitely want to talk about it more.

Its one of those things where its fun to put teams in different conferences and see how it goes. If we were in negotiations and made up a mock schedule to see the actual travel, it would be a lot easier for us to accept, Scott said. We cant do that right now because there are so many unknowns.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.